Well, as the Americans say: “its on”. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has replaced the service chiefs. He replaced the heads of the army, navy, air force, police and State Security Service (SSS). Clearly this is his move to consolidate his power ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
The New Men
POST PRIOR HOLDER NEW HOLDER
Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin
Chief of Army Staff Lt-General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau Major-General Azubuike Ihejirika
Chief of Air Staff Air Vice-Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin
Chief of Naval Staff Vice-Admiral Isaiah Iko Ibrahim Rear-Admiral Ola Sahad Ibrahim
Inspector-General of Police Ogbonnaya Onovo Hafiz Ringim
Director-General, State Security Service Afakiriya Gadzam Ita Ekpenyong
The only one of the service chiefs to remain in service is former Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Petinrin, who has been promoted the new Chief of Defence Staff (replaces Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike).
The new Chief of Army Staff Major-General Onyeabo Azubuike Ihejirika, was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division in Lagos, and is the first Igbo commander of the Nigerian army for 44 years since Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi (1965-66).
The new Chief of Naval Staff Rear-Admiral Ola Sahad Ibrahim (who replaces his namesake Vice-Admiral Isaiah Iko Ibrahim) was the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command.
New Chief of Air Staff Air Vice-Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar was the Air Officer Commanding, Training Command.
Politics and Power
These appointments demonstrate the extent of politicking going on behind the scenes ahead of next year’s presidential elections. Control of the police, intellectual and armed forces will be crucial forwhomever hopes to become President. The retired men were seen as loyalists of President Jonathan’s predecessor Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Jonathan clearly needs men without loyalties to the faction of his predecessor ahead of key elections where everyone is trying to win by hook or by crook.