|*File Photo: Buhari, Service Chiefs visited Borno state|
There is high anxiety in the Nigerian Armed Forces as indications are ripe that President Muhammadu Buhari may effect changes in the nation’s military leadership any moment soon.
The development, according to Vanguard source, will see the exit of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, and the Service Chiefs, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas in that order. Vanguard further gathered that the Chief of Army Staff, may be elevated to a four-star General with new mandate to take over the administration of the military as Chief of Defence Staff, thus succeeding General Gabriel Olonisakin. While others’ tenure had since expired, Buratai, being a member of Course 29 in the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, and junior to the trio, will still be in service given that he has neither reached the retirement age of 56 and/or attained the maximum length of service. The changes which Vanguard learnt may come in the week, would also have top officers among whom are over 150 officers in the rank of Major General in the Army retired. Also, over 70 officers in the Nigerian Navy, particularly officers in the rank of Rear Admiral are equally penciled down for retirement just as 50 officers in the rank of Air Vice Marshal in the Nigerian Air Force face retirement.
Following the expected changes, officers recently elevated to the various ranks in the three arms of the military have not been given new postings even as their current status put them above the positions they are still being made to manned. The recent mass promotion in the nation’s three arms of the military was at the instance of President Buhari, who Vanguard learnt, had given the directive during a meeting he held with the Service Chiefs on Tuesday, October 10, this year. Sources said during the unexpected meeting, the president had pointedly informed the military chiefs of his action and directed them to dust up their files ahead of in preparation to handing over whenever he carried out the action.
Recall that the Nigerian Army Council had a fortnight ago, promoted 45 Brigadier Generals to the rank of Major General while also elevating 92 from the rank of Colonel to Brigadier General. In similar circumstance, the Navy Council promoted 78 senior officers among which were 18 commodores to the rank of Rear Admiral while 40 captains bagged flag rank of Commodore with 20 commanders elevated to the rank of Captain.
The Nigerian Air Force was not left aside in the mass promotion effected with 24 hours as it promoted 51 of its senior staff among which were 22 Air Commodores and 29 Group Captains to the next higher ranks. Although the three arms explained that the promotion exercise was carried out to motivate personnel towards serving the nation diligently, it was reliably gathered that the development was at the instance of the president, who according to our source had in the October 10 meeting, directed that the exercise be effected before the end of November.
The Chief of Defence Staff and two of the Service Chiefs’ tenure had expired on July 13, 2017, but are still in office following a one-year extensions granted them last December by the president. Buhari had extended the tenures of Vice Admiral Ite-Ibas and Air Vice Marshal Abubakar by one year at the same time, as both of them were due for retirement. The president had on July 13, 2015, appointed General Gabriel Olonisakin as the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS. General Olonisakin, by virtue of his age or length of service in the Nigerian Army was due for retirement last December, but had his tenure extended by Buhari. Based on the Armed Forces Terms and Conditions of Service, appointments as service chiefs are tenured for two years. However, at the pleasure of the president, the tenure could be extended if they have not reached the retirement age of 56 and/or attained the maximum length of service. (Vanguard)