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Buhari writes NASS, seeks confirmation of new service chiefs

By Terhemba Daka and Kanayo Umeh (Abuja) 
30 January 2021   |   3:07 am
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly, seeking its confirmation of the newly appointed service chiefs.

Olonisakin, Buratai, Ekwe-Ibas Present Score Cards, Urge Support For Successors

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly, seeking its confirmation of the newly appointed service chiefs.

This is like the new Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.Gen. Lucky Irabor, yesterday, assumed office as the 17th Chief of Defence Staff, with his predecessor, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, charging him to ensure that Nigeria remains a united country.

The new Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, also formally took over the leadership of the Nigerian Navy yesterday with his predecessor, Vice Admiral Ibot Ekwe-Ibas, intimating him of the activities of some personnel of the Service who “mindlessly subvert the system at every opportunity.”

The immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, also presented his valedictory speech yesterday during the Pulling Out Parade by the Nigerian Army at Mogadishu Cantonment, Asokoro, Abuja, stating that he left the Nigerian Army better than he met it.

Buhari, in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, was quoted as saying in the letter to the Senate President, dated January 27, that the request was in furtherance of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A.20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.  

Contrary to fears in some quarters that the President ‘bypassed’ the National Assembly in the process of appointing the service chiefs, the statement explained that he acted in compliance with the spirit and letters of the nation’s laws.

The statement read: “Mr. President, upon nomination for an appointment, sought confirmation of the Senate for the appointments of Maj-Gen. Lucky Irabor, Maj-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Chief of Air Staff (CAS), respectively, vide his aforementioned letter.

“It is on record that this same procedure was adopted when the immediate past service chiefs were appointed. Upon announcement of the appointment of the then service chiefs – Maj-Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin (CDS), Maj-Gen. Tukur Buratai (COAS), Rear Admiral Ibok-Efe Ibas (CNS) and Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar (CAS), Mr. President had written the 8th Senate on July 14, 2015, for confirmation. 

“Whilst the correspondence was read on the floor of the Senate on July 28, 2015, consideration and confirmation of the appointments was carried out at the Committee of the Whole on August 4, 2015.”

According to the statement, “it will be recalled that the National Assembly will only resume plenary sessions on February 9, 2021, when hopefully Mr. President’s communication for consideration and confirmation of the nominations for appointment of the service chiefs would be undertaken.”

The statement added: “Before this administration, confirmation of service chiefs were not sought and obtained from the National Assembly in consonance with the provisions of Section 18 (1) of the Armed Forces Act Cap. A.20 LFN.

“We are aware that in Keyamo Vs. President & Ors, the Federal High Court set aside the Armed Forces Modification Order 2008 (purportedly made under Section 315 (2) of the Constitution) on July 1, 2013, and ruled that the confirmation of the National Assembly must be sought for the appointment of the service chiefs. We are in compliance with the spirit and letters of both the statute and case law.”

The outgoing Chief of Defence Staff, who handed over to Irabor at the Defence Headquarters, urged him to give his best to ensure that “Nigeria remains one peaceful, indivisible country.” 

Highlighting the achievements of the military in the last five years, Olonisakin recalled: “At the inception of the current administration, the Boko Haram terrorist group held sway in parts of the Northeast Nigeria, where the sect occupied 20 out of 26 local government areas in Borno State. Our immediate challenge on the assumption of office was to flush out the Boko Haram and restore Nigeria’s sovereignty over these occupied territories. 

“Gratefully, with the support of the political leadership and indeed all Nigerians, the Armed Forces of Nigeria under my leadership was able to reclaim all territories that were then under the control of the Boko Haram.”
He added: “While the terrorism/insurgency by the Boko Haram remains a security issue the country is grappling with, the Armed Forces is equally engaged in assisting the government in addressing other security issues in line with our constitutional roles. 

“It gladdens my heart that the incoming Chief of Defence Staff is very familiar with these security challenges having previously served as Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Commander Multinational Joint Task Force and above all, the immediate past Chief of Training and Operations at the Defence Headquarters. There couldn’t have been a better choice of a seasoned senior officer who will hit the ground running as the Chief of Defence Staff. I urge you to continue to give your best to ensure that Nigeria remains one peaceful, indivisible country.”

Irabor, in his remarks, solicited the support of Nigerians as the military continues to tackle the current security challenges, pledging to give the right leadership that would inspire the Armed Forces.

Speaking at the handover ceremony at the Navy Headquarters in Abuja, Ekwe-Ibas stated that the bad eggs in the Nigerian Navy often mar the efforts of the Service, warning personnel engaging in criminal conduct to promptly make a turnaround.

The retired CNS, who took time to highlight his achievements in office, said: “I must at this juncture spare a few words for the bad eggs among us. Like any other organisation, the Service has its own fair share. I refer to all those who mindlessly subvert the system at every opportunity.

“Our experiences in their treachery of connivance with some criminal elements, complicity in crime commission, negligent performance of duty permitting aggravation of cases in some instances, the disrepute to the institution of the Nigerian Navy in their less than professional conduct through alleged unethical behaviours, marring otherwise lauded efforts of our prosecution of infractions, were very sad and regrettable commentary in an otherwise glowing, commendable and exemplary service from you all.

“I urge this band of undedicated personnel to please make a turnaround promptly and reclaim traction to a fulfilled and successful career. I am still hopeful that you would, after pondering on this, reconsider your disposition, choose the path of honour, in clear appreciation of the essence of service to your fatherland”.

On his achievements, Ekwe-Ibas said: “We proceeded with a singleness of purpose to address the subversive and ruinous activities in our domain. The menacing scenario at sea from the spike in piracy and sea robbery, proliferation of illegal refinery, brazen theft of crude oil, mindless destruction of critical infrastructure for oil and gas, reckless, violent crimes such as kidnapping, hijack and attack security forces and many more activated in us new concepts.”

In his brief remarks, Gambo solicited the support of officers and personnel of the Nigerian Navy, promising to take the Service to an enviable height.

Buratai stated that the Army under his watch achieved the tremendous feat in the fight against insurgency and other security threats in the country.

He noted that he ensured adequate training of personnel and enhancement of warfare capabilities of the Army as well as prioritisation of personnel welfare.

He said: “Today is a day of appreciation, not stocktaking, but let me put on record that I left the Nigerian Army better than I met it.

“The Nigerian Army under my leadership was able to achieve a great feat in the fight against insurgency in the country. We have been experiencing pockets of threats here and there, but I can confidently say that no part of Nigeria is ceded to any terrorist group or criminals.

“The counter-insurgency operation is warfare new to Nigerian Army but over time, we have continued to devise means of tackling the ever-evolving dynamic nature of the threats in the country. The Nigerian Army has remained resolute in the discharge of its roles as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I urge you all to continue to rise to the occasion.”

He called support for the new Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, to enable him to deliver on his mandate.

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