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NEW SERVICE CHIEFS: Military Tradition Sends 40 Generals Packing

It will inject new blood into nation's security architecture – Experts

By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah and Tarkaa David

Following the appointment of new Service Chiefs by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, dozens of military top brass will have to exit service due traditional command and control practice.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had on Monday approved the immediate retirement from service of all service chiefs and the inspector-general of police, advisers, comptroller-general of customs as well as their replacements with immediate effect.

The retired Service Chiefs are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao.

He replaced them with Maj. Gen. C.G. Musa, Chief of Defence Staff; Maj. T. A Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral E. A .Ogalla, Chief of Naval Staff; AVM H.B. Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff, DIG Kayode Egbetokun, acting Inspector-General of Police and Maj. Gen. EPA Undiandeye, Chief of Defence Intelligence.

The former service chiefs, according to military sources, will be exiting with their management team and commandants of tri-service institutions.

Those likely to retire are the Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) of the former Service Chiefs and the Commandants of tri-service institutions.

The principal staff officers are mostly members of Course 37 and 38 of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).

While the new Chief of Defence Staff, Musa, is a member of 38 Regular Course, the other service chiefs are members of 39 Regular Course.

According to military sources, all those senior to the CDS have to make way as he assumes command. So, senior military officers from courses 37 and 38 will automatically have to go, including those in the same Course 39 who are senior to him in the course.

The Chief of Army Staff, Major General Taoreed Lagbaja, is a member of 39 Regular Course, the Chief of Naval Staff, Ogalla, is a member of Course 39 while the chief of the Air Staff, AVM Hassan Abubakar, is also of Course 39.

By implication, over 40 generals across the services will leave the stage for the young ones to step into the shoes. In military tradition, a senior cannot take orders from his junior.

When asked to speak on the matter and what implications it can have on the fight against insecurity, a former Army spokesman, Brig Gen Sani Usman (rtd) said retirement of military officers is a normal routine that gives opportunity to young blood to showcase their prowess.

He said such development has no negative impact on the security architecture since the retirees will form part of the military reserve.

“It is not a big deal; to a large extent, changes are expected. It is not something that should bother anyone. It will not have any impact on the security architecture; rather it gives opportunity for others to show their prowess, capacity and competence”.

He, however, noted that the Nigerian experience is different from other countries like in the United States where one hardly hears of such things as mass retirement.

 “Nigeria has its peculiar thing, it’s a normal thing; it is a system, people go and people come. It’s there in the military tradition; you know there are two ways of leaving the military – you either leave vertically or horizontally. When you leave healthy, you give glory to God that you are leaving alive.

“Remember there is debarment which means that you will not take any employment because the Nigerian State has invested in you, trained you so you cannot take that talent and experience to another place. That is why they are being paid, and remember there is military reserve also.”

In his reaction, the secretary-general, International Institute of Professional Security (IIPS), Dr. Abdullahi Mohammed Jabi, said the mass retirement of military generals had no serious implication for the nation’s security.

“It is a tradition and they have overstayed their usefulness. Let’s have new blood, new experience, new active officers to mount all those positions to see what they can contribute in changing the situation as it were now.

“More so this appointment cut across six geopolitical zones unlike before that it was politically motivated to have come from one geopolitical zone. This is federal character in action and this is work in progress; our prayer is that the new chiefs will be able to withstand the situation on the ground and be able to deliver on the mandate to ensure that Nigerians can close their eyes to sleep very well.

 “It is neither here nor there; it is a routine in the military cycle that whenever your junior is appointed, those who are senior are to go on compulsory retirement. It is not just starting with this regime and it is not going to end with it. It is a global thing in the military, so it is not just a Nigerian thing.”


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