The president praised the officials for their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country.”
After years of complaints by Nigerians about the worsening security situation amidst the overstay of Nigeria’s military chiefs in office, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday relieved the officials of their positions.
Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said in a statement, Tuesday, that Mr Buhari “accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.”
The four men – Gabriel Olonisakin, a general and Chief of Defence Staff; Tukur Buratai; a lieutenant general and chief of army staff; Abubakar Sadique, an air marshal and chief of air staff, and Ibok Ibas, a vice admiral and chief of naval staff – were supposed to have retired over two years ago based on their years of service.
But President Buhari kept them in office even as the security situation across the country worsened with bandits wreaking havoc in the North-west and North-central states, the Boko Haram carrying out attacks in the North-east and kidnapping becoming the norm in several states across Nigeria.
As the security situation got worse and more Nigerians called for the replacement of the service chiefs, Mr Buhari stuck to his guns, insisting they were doing their best and did not deserve to be replaced.
Even when he finally relieved them of their positions on Tuesday, the president praised the officials for their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country.”
President Buhari’s claim of “overwhelming achievements’ by the outgone military chiefs not only contradicts the perception of many Nigerians but also contradicts the position of the National Assembly dominated by members of the president’s party, APC.
At least on three different occasions, the National Assembly called for the sack of the service chiefs based on the worsening security situation. On each occasion, the president ignored the lawmakers and retained the Olonisakin-led service chiefs who were appointed on July 13, 2015, after President Buhari assumed office.
NEW SERVICE CHIEFS
In his statement, Mr Adesina announced that the president appointed Leo Irabor, a major general, as the Chief of Defence Staff.
Mr Irabor formerly led Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram as the Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole.
Ibrahim Attahiru, also a major general, was named the new Chief of Army Staff. Like Mr Irabor, Mr Attahiru had also led the war against Boko Haram.
The president also appointed A.Z. Gambo, a rear admiral, as Chief of Naval Staff and Isiaka Amao, an air vice marshal, as Chief of Air Staff.
“The President congratulates the new Service Chiefs, and urges them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities,” Mr Adesina said.