Changing the Service Chiefs is not our biggest challenge. What is facing the country in terms of insecurity is the Boko Haram insurgents, Fulani armed herdsmen and farmers crisis and issue of banditry. Unfortunately, Mr. President, up till now, has refused to take a decisive position on the Fulani herdsmen menace.

Last week, the news that dominated public space was the replacement of Nigeria’s military service chiefs

by President Muhammadu Buhari after years of uproars by different sections, groups and citizens of this country who expressed sore displeasure over performances of the fired military chiefs in the face of worsening national security situation. Interestingly, the news did not meet public expectations, neither did it create frenzied excitements that usually greet such major change of guards.


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First, many were at sea when the news broke wondering whether the president fired the service chiefs or they (service chiefs) turned in their resignation letters. The former service chiefs were

Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin;

Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai;

Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and

Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

They were replaced with

Major-General LEO Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff;

Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff;

Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and

Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff.

There is no much difference in the above composition except that South-South got a slot of Chief of Defence Staff this time. This has drawn the ire of South-east that obviously has no representation in the composition of the nation’s top military chiefs.

new Service chiefs nigpiot

The most important question however is: can the newly appointed military chiefs achieve anything better than their immediate past predecessors?

Tons of billions of Naira were sinking into the prosecution of counterterrorism in the North-east but the destruction by insurgents has continued to be more daring against every strategy of the Nigerian troops.

Rear Admiral Gambo takes over as the  Indegenious CNS Nigpilot

There have been allegations and issues of some military officers betraying the country by selling information on an operational strategy to terrorists. There were embarrassing moments when troops at the front lines protested over non-payment of allowances and overstaying at the fields of operation in the North-east against the rule of engagements. Also, There have been controversial issues of alleged corruption in the military and counter-insurgency operations and subsequent calls for probe of defence expenditure, etc.

Perhaps, the worse factor in the doubts created among many Nigerians is the politicization of the military, national security management and governance structure by the Buhari administration. This was well captured by a former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Alani Akinrinade in his reaction to the change of service chiefs by President Buhari.

Military under my watch reclaimed all territories General Olonisakin Nigpilot

According to Akinrinade, he was quoted as saying, “I have said it before that changing the service chiefs is not our biggest challenge. What is facing the country in terms of insecurity is the Boko Haram insurgents, Fulani armed herdsmen and farmers crisis and issue of banditry. Unfortunately, Mr President, up till now, has refused to take a decisive position on the Fulani herdsmen menace, which people misconstrued that he is supporting members of his ethnic groups to perpetrate crime. What exactly will any old or new service chiefs do about this?”

This is the crux of the matter, the biggest problematic denominator of Nigeria’s security challenges. Can the present Service Chiefs do anything positively different from the questionable attitude, character and anaemic body language of their Commander-in-Chief and government?



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