Barring any unforeseen circumstances, President Goodluck Jonathan will, any moment from now, overhaul the service chiefs, even as the chief of defence staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Ibrahim, has asked for voluntary retirement from the service.
Ibrahim, who is from Kwara State, replaced retired Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin. Until his appointment, Ibrahim was the chief of naval staff (CNS). He was appointed to the office on October 3, 2012, when the president named Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, from Delta State, as the new CNS.
Until his elevation, Ezeoba was the chief of administration at the Defence Headquarters. Jonathan also named Air Marshall Alex Badeh from Adamawa State as the new chief of air staff. Badeh was, until his new appointment, the air officer commanding, Training Command, Kaduna. But, Jonathan retained the incumbent chief of army staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika from Abia State.
According to a reliable source from the State House, Admiral Ibrahim had met with the president and the commander-in-chief and sought permission to voluntarily retire after a meritorious service that has brought him to the peak of the military. He later formalised the request and “President Jonathan has accepted his reasons but, I am sorry, I don’t have the details of his reasons for doing so”.
The source further disclosed that no sooner had it become known that the CDS was going than lobby and scheming for his successor began. “There are forces seriously lobbying for the remaining service chiefs: Lt. Gen. Ihejirika, who is the most senior; Air Marshal Badeh of the Air Force and Vice Admiral Ezeoba of the Navy.”
He explained that while those lobbying for Ihejirika might be thinking he would get it on the platter of gold saying, “they might likely miss it except they move faster. This is because those that are lobbying for Ezeoba seem to be far ahead and those who are working for Badeh too are capitalising on rotation of the CDS; their own point is ‘it is the turn of Air Force’.”
If Ihejirika secured the slot, which he had missed by a whisker last year when he was asked to retain the COAS job, it means it is only his successor that would be named by the president but “If Ezeoba was named the new CDS, then, Ihejirika may be asked to go in order not to be serving under the CDS who is of lower rank. The whole scenario would be unfolded within the next few days,” he said.
The source also disclosed that some forces from the north have begun plotting how the successor of Ihejirika would be one of their cronies. When some of officers that were eyeing the post were retired recently, hell was literally let loose as a section of the media began a war against Ihejirika, accusing him of paving the way to Major General Minimah to succeed him. But in a swift reaction, the Army faulted the claim, describing the media war as the handiwork of those that were voluntarily retired from the military.
Meanwhile, a new director of defence information, DDI, has been appointed for the Defence Headquarters. He is Brigadier General Chris Olukolade.
Olukolade replaced the former DDI, Colonel Mohammed Yerima.
A statement issued and signed by Group Captain A. Makun stated that “following recent postings in the Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade has been appointed new Director of Defence Information”.
It added that Brig. Gen. Olukolade assumed duty yesterday after a handing over and taking over between the two senior officers at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
He had served as the director of army public relations and one-time spokesman of the ECOMOG Force in Liberia and Sierra-Leone.
Until his new appointment, Olukolade was a staff officer at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.