History was, no doubt, made on the 26th of January 2021, when the sun sets on the administration of the outgone Service Chiefs, following the announcement of the new crop of military heads by President Muhammadu Buhari after over five years in that capacity.
Nevertheless, the exit of the former Service Chiefs was not unconnected with unabated grumbling in the military and persistent call by the National Assembly, Socio-cultural organizations, professional groups, political parties and retired senior military officers for the sack of the Service Chiefs, owing to the worsening security situation across the country.
While bowing to pressure from these interest groups, President Buhari, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, noted that the President had accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.
He said that those involved were the 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.
According to the statement, “President Buhari thanks the outgoing Service Chiefs for what he calls their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country,” wishing them well in their future endeavours”.
Since nature abhors a vacuum, Adesina announced the following as a replacement for the outgone military heads: “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.
While congratulating the new Service Chiefs, the President urged them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities.
According to some security experts and public affairs commentators, the changes were made to rescue the country from sliding further into the siege of criminal elements wrecking hovoc on innocent citizens across the federation.
For instance, the North East is grappling with the horror of insurgency and terrorism, North West and North Central are suffering the wicked onslaught of marauding herders, armed bandits and kidnappers, while in the South South zone it is militancy, oil theft, smuggling, piracy and cult-related killings.
The South East is not insulated from the activities of the dark forces threatening the soul of the federation, as the secessionist agitators with private army as well as armed robbery are plaguing the zone.
The South West is also in the news for the wrong reasons, as clashes between Fulani herdersmen occupying the forest reserves and the Yoruba natives continue unabated.
These regular clashes leave devastating effects in their trail, even as kidnapping and ritual killings remain hydra-headed monsters.
Arguably, the country was gradually becoming unsafe and unhabitable under the watchful eyes of the former service chiefs, even when the defence budget enjoyed the largest chuck of the annual budget for over a decade.
Their ouster or resignation as the presidency would prefer to describe it is, no doubt, a good omen. But, while one may not share the popular sentiment in the public domain that the retired service chiefs were inept in their job, it will be safe to say that the call for their replacement was almost unanimous.
But now that the anticipated change has become a reality, the new chiefs must move with the speed of light so as not to disappoint public expectations.
Interestingly, the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, and the service chiefs, have concluded the tour of North east theatre of operations, and have since returned to Abuja.
Much is, however, yet to be heard from them in terms of policy statements and strategic direction. But while citizens are waiting for the major shake up in the military, which will announce the direction of the new service chiefs, the new Chief of Naval Staff has taken a lead by unveiling his vision and mission statement.
The Director Naval Information, Commodore Suleman Dahun, while announcing this in a statement, said the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Gambo had unveiled his vision and mission statements to guide his administration of the Service.
The Naval Spokesperson disclosed that the 21st indigenous CNS made the historic declaration during his maiden meeting with principal staff officers, flag officers commanding and commanders of autonomous units of the Nigerian Navy at Naval Headquarters, Abuja.
Rear Admiral Gambo said his Vision is “to leverage on all factors of national location, technology, training, teamwork and synergy to re-energise the Nigerian Navy and enhance her as a well-motivated and ready naval force in the discharge of her Constitutional mandate and other assigned tasks in fulfillment of national security objectives.”
The CNS posited that to achieve this vision, his administration would focus on some key drivers.
“The current administration would ensure personnel welfare is accorded high priority towards enhanced patriotism, integrity, productivity, innovation, commitment and dedication. It will also focus on human capacity development through result-oriented training for enhanced professionalism and as well strengthening logistics support and maintenance capabilities to sustain equipment serviceability and platform availability.
“As part of the key drivers, the Nigerian Navy under my leadership will reinforce the culture of self-sufficiency through sustained investment in R&D and prudent management of resources, promote inter-Service cooperation and forge strategic partnerships with MDAs, credible maritime stakeholders as well as collaboration engagements with international partners.
“Furthermore, the Service will promote and sustain the Nigerian Navy core values of Integrity, Professionalism and Teamwork,” he said.
The CNS also announced that his Mission is ”to optimise the deployment of the Nigerian Navy in the performance of her Constitutional roles and the undertaking of assigned tasks while promptly responding with commensurate actions to other emerging national security challenges”.
He further pointed out that the overall intention of his administration was to achieve immediate positive transformation in the nation’s security especially in the maritime domain, adding that all hands must be on deck to achieve that.
While pledging that his administration would have zero- tolerance for indiscipline and criminal activities, the new CNS said the established policies and measures to sanction identified Nigerian Navy personnel, who collude with economic saboteurs, drug traffickers/barons, bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers, to perpetrate crine, shall be overhauled and strengthened.
Still talking tough, Rear Admiral Gambo warned personnel to avoid any act capable of tarnishing the image of the NN.
“Such acts would be met with heavy sanctions to act as deterrence to others. On the other hand, Nigerian Navy personnel that exhibit high integrity and positive attributes that portray the NN in good light shall be rewarded handsomely,” he also disclosed.
He added that his administration shall place premium on human capacity development through higher training and education.
The CNS also commanded all ongoing operations in the Nigerian Navy to check piracy, sea robbery, Crude Oil Theft and illegal refining of petroleum products to continue.
Admiral Gambo however, decried the resurging incidents of piracy and sea robbery within Nigerian waters.
To this end, he directed all commanders to sustain aggressive clearance operations to make suspected militants, cults and pirate camps non-conducive for any nefarious activities to thrive.
The CNS Rear equally used the forum to assure that the Nigerian Navy shall give the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic the seriousness it deserves.
He appealed to personal of Nigerian Navy to remain safe and adhere to all relevant Nigerian Navy and national protocols on the pandemic.
According to him, “We must understand that the human capital remains the most critical and important factor in military operations,” he positd.
While outlining his immediate plan of action, in line with Mr President’s mandate, the CNS called for complete loyalty from all subordinate commanders.
It is on the strength of these proactive outings, as exemplified in the unveiling of his mission/vision statement as well as the seeming riot act to officers and personnel, that an appeal is made to other services to toe the line of the Chief of Naval Staff, with a view to pursuing the black goat before the day becomes dark.
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