Nigeria Armed forces: One year after

Chief of Defence Staff General Leo Irabor

On his appointment as the Chief of Defence Staff on the 26th of January, 2021 General
Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor, may have relied on his name to help him in the face of the daunting security challenges facing the country.

The name Irabor which is found in Benin, Edo State and Ika areas of Delta State, some say means “I lift my hands in prayer to God” and “I lift my hands in praises to God.

The situation in the country had gotten so bad that only divine intervention was way out.

President Muhammadu Buhari in response to the cry of Nigerians made sweeping changes in the top hierarchy of the Armed Forces with appointment of new service chiefs.

Nigerians felt new ideas should be brought in to fight insurgency, banditry and other crimes ravaging the country.

Apart from Gen. Irabor, the other appointees were Lt.-Gen. I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff, Vice-Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff and Air Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff. Unfortunately, the Chief of Army Staff died in a plane crash not long after.

Before this time, the security situation was so bad that Nigerians said the military was not doing enough.

Some attributed the lapses to lack of synergy among the former service chiefs. They said the different services were working independently.

Delivering a paper titled ‘Achieving Synergy Between National Security And The Economy: The Place Of Effective Public Relations’ at the Second Quarterly Lecture of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Oyo State Chapter, in Ibadan in 2017, former Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade (Rtd), identified inadequacy in the level of cooperation among security agencies in the country as having serious negative impact not just on their operations but on the nation’s collective interest, most especially on national security and economy.

He said recent events in the country serves as a pointer to the fact that there are still traces of disharmony, lack of cooperation and synergy in operation and information management among security agencies.

One year into their appointment, Nigerians no doubt will testify that at no time have we had a Armed Forces so cohesive, with same line of focus.

This is attributed to the determination of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) who hit the ground running in line with his command philosophy to “foster a professional Armed Forces capable of effectively meeting constitutional imperatives”.

Thankfully, the other service chiefs keyed in and subordinated themselves to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ).

This was corroborated by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, who said all ongoing joint operations and joint task forces were directly subordinated to the DHQ and their commanders’ report directly to the CDS.

The result of the new found synergy is already yielding results, with the terrorists, bandits and other criminals under pressure following massive pursuit by the military.

This new found synergy attracted the attention of President Buhari at the grand finale of the 2021 Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) in Abuja as he said the joint Operations has led to the decimation of some terrorists and criminal elements in our society.

According to the President “Government services and private businesses have since resumed in areas hitherto controlled by these terrorists.”

In the past one year, thousands of Boko Haram/ISWAP members and their families have surrendered with a promise to turn a new leaf.

The people of the North-East for the first time celebrated the Christmas without tension as peace gradually return to the once
beleaguered region.

The Armed Forces under Gen. Irabor is not relenting as they are involved in different zones of the country working to restore peace.

In the South-South zone, the military is tackling economic saboteurs involved in crude oil theft.

The successful joint land and air operations being conducted by the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force is indeed yielding results.

To accelerate the philosophy of the CDS, the DHQ unveiled the Armed Force of Nigeria Gender Policy (AFNGP) which seeks to promote gender mainstreaming in the nation’s armed forces.

The CDS said that the coming of the policy was a clear declaration that the AFN was totally committed to taking the issue of women empowerment to higher levels.

As the CDS continues to build a truly professional Armed Forces, no doubt, his eyes will remain on God who gave the successes recorded so far.

Nigerians are looking unto him and his colleagues to continue to chart the way out of the challenges.

Hopefully, very soon, it will be time for the CDS and the Service chiefs to say “I lift my hands in praises to God”.

Hassan Salaam is Convener, New Security Focus Group (NSFG)