President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday appointed new service chiefs, finally letting go of the Chief of Defence Chief, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, after the four had spent five years and five months in office.
Although Buhari said on Tuesday that he accepted their resignation letters, the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, already clarified in the past that the military chiefs could not resign and had to be laid off by the Commander-In-Chief.
Buhari had on July 13, 2015, appointed Olonisakin, Buratai, Ibas, and Abubakar.
In a State House Press Release on Tuesday, Buhari’s Special Adviser, Femi Adesina, said the new service chiefs were: Major-General Leo Irabor as the CDS, Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru as the army chief, Rear Admiral A. Z. Gambo as the naval chief and Air-Vice Marshal I. O. Amao, as the new air chief.
He said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.
“Those involved are 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.
“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.
“The new Service Chiefs are: 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.
“The President congratulates the new Service Chiefs, and urges them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities.”
Buhari himself in a tweet noted that he accepted their resignations, although the service chiefs had refused to resign since 2017 when the country grappled with rising Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, and other forms of insecurity.
Subsequently, there had been calls by Nigerians, groups and even federal lawmakers for their removal.
For example, Olonisakin is so far the longest-serving CDS since 1999. The closest to him was Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi (retd.), who served for four years and 29 days between May 29, 1999, and June 27, 2003.
Also, Buratai is the longest-serving COAS since 1999. The closest to him was Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (retd.), who spent three years and four months in office; between September 2010 and January 2014.
Ibas is also the longest-serving CNS since 1999, while the closest person to him was Vice-Admiral S. O. Afolayan, who served for four years, between 2001 and 2005.
It was reported last week that the outgoing military chiefs had awarded four Sport Utility Vehicles, four Peugeot vehicles, among other juicy retirement benefits to themselves, according to the 2017 Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers, which their administration revised.
The new HTACOS 2017 revealed that the military chiefs will get security staff of over 40 soldiers as well as domestic and foreign medical cover.
The military document showed that the brand new SUVs to be given to them would be replaced every four years at the expense of the military.
President Buhari appointed the defence chiefs on July 13, 2015, and despite the worsening insecurity in the country, he retained the service chiefs perceived to have run out of ideas for so long.
As the country grappled with the Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East, banditry and killings in the North-West for several years, and general insecurity across the country, the National Assembly and Nigeria Governors’ Forum and many notable Nigerians had called for the replacement of the service chiefs.
Meanwhile, the outgone service chiefs revised the previous 2012 servile conditions and replaced them with the 2017 HTACOS, which now made them entitled to the juicy retirement benefits.