|Chief of Defence Staff||Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim||Air Marshal Alex Badeh|
|Chief of Army Staff||Lt-General Azubike Ihejirika||Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah|
|Chief of Air Staff||Air Marshal Alex Badeh||Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu|
|Chief of Naval Staff||Vice-Admiral Dele Ezeoba||Rear-Admiral Usman Jibrin|
There has been a lot of “noise” in the Nigerian media about President Goodluck Jonathan’s supposedly controversial appointment of new military service chiefs for the army, air force, and navy.
To cut a long story short the main talking points are:
- The new heads of the army, air force, and navy appointed by President Jonathan are (respectively): Major-General Kenneth Minimah, Air-Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu, and Rear-Admiral Usman Jibrin. They replaced Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, and Vice-Admiral Dele Ezeoba (respectively). Badeh is actually still employed though. Although he was replaced as Chief of Air Staff, he was promoted to replace Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim who was also retired. Net effect = one promotion and three retirements.
- Expect the following rank promotions shortly: Badeh to Air Chief Marshal, Minimah to Lt-General, Amosu to Air Marshal, and Jibrin to Vice-Admiral. Promotions at this level of the armed forces usually require the heads of the army, air force, and navy to be three star generals (or equivalent), and the chief of defence staff to be a four star general (or equivalent). Badeh is currently equivalent to a three star general, and Minimah, Amosu, and Jibrin have two stars. Those ranks will probably change shortly.
Prior to the current appointments, the new men held the following posts:
Air Vice-Marshal Badeh – Chief of Air Staff
Major-General Minimah – Commander of the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps, Jaji.
Rear-Admiral Jibrin – Director of Training at Defence Headquarters.
Air Vice Marshal Amosu – Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command, Makurdi.*
*The statement announcing the new appointments by President Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati actually messed up Amosu’s post by simultaneously claiming he was the head of the presidential air fleet, AND Air Officer Commanding, Tactical Air Command of the air force! Obviously Amosu could not have been in two different posts simultaneously.
People are literally foaming at the mouth with rage for a number of reasons. Namely:
- The new Chief of Army Staff Major-General Minimah is from the Niger Delta, like President Jonathan. Minimah is from Rivers State – right “next door” to the President’s home state of Bayelsa. The President is being accused of ethnic favouritism.
- Apparently over 30 (or 50 depending on who you believe) senior officers were bypassed in order to appoint Minimah. These officers will now be retired as they cannot serve under Minimah, who is junior to them.
Minimah graduated from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in 1981 as a member of the NDA’s 25th regular combatant course. Amosu is also a graduate of course 25, while Jibrin is slightly senior to Minimah and Amosu, and is a graduate of course 24. The new Chief of Defence Staff Badeh was a graduate of course 21.
What do all these references to various courses mean? The military is a hierarchical institution. It is not a hospital or manufacturing plant. When people get promoted, life does not just go on as normal. In a country like Nigeria which was under military rule for 28 years, military promotions have national security AND political implications. Heads of state have been assassinated and coups staged as a result of the mismanagement of military promotions. Therefore there is a well-established tradition that when a military officer is promoted to head any of the armed services, any officers who are senior to him are retired or removed from his operational command. This nips potential disaffection (and political crises) in the bud. It has been happening for several decades.
We do not know why President Jonathan appointed Minimah (maybe because he is a star, the best, he’s comfortable with him, he trusts him, because he’s from the Delta…). Whatever the reason, once Minimah (an officer from NDA regular course 25) got appointed to replace Ihejirika (an officer from course 18) – lots of officers from courses 19-24 had to go.
This has happened lots of times before. Several senior officers were retired to make way for Minimah’s predecessor Ihejirika! When former President Obasanjo retired Chief of Army Staff Lt-General Victor Malu (a course 3 graduate) in 2001, Obasanjo retired a lot of officers to make way for Major-General Alexander Ogomudia (also from the Delta – and four intakes below Malu) to become the new chief of army Staff. As far back as 1990 President Babangida also ignored lots of senior officers like Major-Generals Nasko, Duba, Useni, Nwachukwu, Haladu etc in order to make way for Salihu Ibrahim (who was junior to all of them) as the new chief of army staff. Lots of fine officers had to retire to make way for Ibrahim.
Military appointments in the General ranks are effectively political appointments because of the visibility and political sensitivity of such appointments. President Jonathan is currently embattled and is facing attacks on multiple fronts from his political opponents. Senior members of his political party are defecting and next year he is facing a mammoth presidential election against an opposition that is resolutely determined to get rid of him. However these overarching political events should not overstate the significance of what in most other countries would be routine military postings.
Are we really surprised that the President retired men who have been in service for over 35 years, some of whom are close to 60 years old? They had already passed the mandatory service limit of 35 years for military officers and were due for retirement any day. Their continued presence in service was at the prerogative of the President (AKA the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces). What President Jonathan has done with these military appointments is not remarkable and is no different to what his predecessors have been doing for four decades.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died. Sharon had been in a coma for the past 8 years. Nicknamed the “bulldozer”, Sharon was regarded as the “father” of the Israeli settler movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He was the darling of Israeli right win settlers who would often chant “Arik – King of Israel”.
Yet when be became Prime Minister he authorised the controversial evacuation of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Sharon’s famous quotes:
“As one who fought in all of Israel’s wars, and learned from personal experience that without proper force, we do not have a chance of surviving in this region, which does not show mercy towards the weak, I have also learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land.”
“Israel will fight anyone who tries, through suicide terrorism, to sow fear. Israel will fight, Israel will triumph and when victory prevails, Israel will make peace.”
A British and Italian hostage have been killed after a botched rescue attempt to free the pair from kidnappers linked to Al Qaeda today.
A British citizen (Chris McManus, aged 28) and Italian citizen (Franco Lamolinara, aged48) have been killed in Sokoto, Sokoto State in northern Nigeria after an attempt by British and Nigerian special forces to free them. McManus and Lamolinara were kidnapped and have been held since May 2011. Initial press reports (and British Prime Minister David Cameron) say they were killed by their captors during the rescue attempt by British and Nigerian troops. However a senior security source in Nigeria has told the Associated Press that the two men died in the crossfire during the rescue operation, perhaps indicating that they might have been killed accidentally by gunfire from the troops sent to rescue them.
None of the British or Nigerian troops were killed but the captors suffered casualties.
Our immediate thoughts must be with Chris and Franco’s families, and we offer them our sincerest condolences. Both families have endured a terrible ordeal, and this is a devastating moment for all of them.
The Foreign Office have been in regular contact with the McManus family since Chris’s capture. I spoke to them just before Christmas and I have spoken to them again with the news this afternoon.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Nigerian authorities, and President Jonathan personally, for all they have done to help find Chris, and combat terrorism.
I also want to pay tribute to all those, including UK personnel, who worked so hard to try to bring Chris home safely. I am very sorry that this ended so tragically. I ask that the media respect the family’s privacy and allow them time to come to terms with their loss.
Terrorism and appalling crimes such as these are a scourge on our world. No-one should be in any doubt about our determination to fight and to defeat them.”
Babangida wants to be President again….and he is defending his record. He says that Abacha actually saved Nigeria by holding the country together. Although he admits the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election was “wrong”, he says he was judged unfairly and harshly.
See the videos above and below.
Disgraceful scenes from the National Assembly in Abuja. A fight broke out in Nigerian parliament after 11 legislators were suspended for accusing the House of Representatives Speaker (Dimeji Bankole) of corruption. The legislators called themselves “The Progressives”, and demanded an investigation into allegations that Speaker Oladimeji Bankole misappropriated 9 billion naira equivalent of an 11 billion budget from 2008 to 2009. The 11 suspended are:
Dino Melaye, Ehiogie West Idahosa, Independence Ogunewe, Solomon Awhinawi, Austin Nwachukwu and Abbas Anas, Gbenga Oduwaiye, Kayode Amusan, Gbenga Onigbogi, Bitrus Kaze and Doris Uboh.
The EFCC has promised an investigation into the corruption allegations. But we all know what happens to “official investigations” into corruption in Nigeria…
Note that the second video refers to Nigeria as “one of the world’s most tainted countries”.
Pause for thought here….the political crisis that led to Nigeria’s first military coup in 1966 was precipitated by a similarly ugly fistfight in the Western Region House of Assembly between supporters of Obafemi Awolowo and Samuel Ladoke Akintola. The fallout from that fistfight resulted in a state of emergency being declared in the Western Region, a virtual army of occupation being sent there, and a few years later, the army struck. Akintola and many others involved in the crisis were killed by the army in January 1966.
Remember remember, the 15th of January…..
A good article from Reuters with optimistic analysis of Nigeria’s economy: “Investing in Nigeria today is like buying a lottery ticket with a very high percentage chance of winning”.
A quick summary of the major news items of the week. Have a great weekend everyone.
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan Makes His Mark
Jonathan Dissolves Cabinet
Machete Attacks in Nigerian Village
Profile of New National Security Adviser Lt-General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau
Domkat Bali Criticises Jos GOC Maj-Gen Saleh Maina
Aliko Dangote Sacked as NSE President
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has dissolved the Federal Executive Council (cabinet of ministers). More updates to follow. I suspect this will be a precursor to a cabinet reshuffle.
Another day, and yet more violence in Jos.
News outlet are reporting that several hundred people have been killed in the city of Jos in Plateau State. The New York Times claims as many as 500 people have been killed – so far. Many of the victims are women and children and were murdered with machetes.
What is the Violence About?
Jos has been the scene of much violence recently. The violence is a mixture of religious clashes between Muslims and Christians, politics and the “settler” versus “indigence” dichotomy in Nigeria.
Settlers v Indigenes
Jos lies on Nigeria’s religious “fault line” between the mainly Muslim north and mainly Christian south. The city has a mixed ethnicity population. However there has been tension between settlers and indigenes. The indigenes are the mainly Christian Birom ethnic group and other Christian groups. The settlers are Hausa or Fulani Muslims, who migrated to Jos from further north.
Settlers have limited rights to state facilities such as education, scholarships, bank loans and employment. Being an indigene is a key that unlocks full entitlement to such benefits. Thus settlers are aggrieved because they feel excluded, and some indigenes regard settlers as encroaching on their land.
These differences are amplified by political disputes in Plateau State. The Plateau State Governor, Air Commodore (retired) Jonah David Jang, is a Birom Christian, and a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. His political rivals are the mainly Muslim All Nigeria People’s Party. Thus political rivalry in the state also takes on an ethnic and religious dimension.
Jos residents claim the latest violence was perpetrated by Fulani men who first fired shots to sow panic, then cut down fleeing residents with machetes.
Watch this space. Previous violence in Plateau State forced the federal government to depose the former Governor Joshua Dariye and impose a state of emergency in the state.
Well Yar’Adua is back, and still he has not been seen or heard from in public. We are not even sure that the acting President Goodluck Jonathan has set eyes on him.
There has been a big hoopla about the fact that soldiers were deployed in Abuja to form an escort party for Yar’Adua upon his return. The press has claimed that these soldiers were deployed by the Chief of Army Staff Lt-General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau without the consent of acting President Jonathan. Some went so far to call it a contained coup against Jonathan.
As usual it is a case of Nigerian reporters not doing their research properly. The Brigade of Guards (the soldiers responsible for the President’s security) have had their own chain of command. The BOG virtually acts as an autonomous army unit directly answerable to the President. They do not take day to day operational orders from Dambazau when being deployed in Abuja. Their deployment outside Abuja would be a different matter.
Dora Akunyili Wades In
*Also make sure you watch the video above to see Dora’s comments.*
Amongst the intrigue though, I would like to draw readers’ attention to an interview with Dora Akunyili (Minister of Information) where she made some very frank comments accusing a “cabal” close to Yar’Adua of virtually holding him, and the nation hostage and putting the country in political turmoil with their selfishness.
“I personally feel worried about how people around the President are handling his health issues. It is not a crime for anybody to be sick, but they have so shrouded his sickness in secrecy that it is beginning to generate issues that should not be there and I believe they are doing what they are doing so that they will continue to actually be in the control….It is for the best interest of the country and even for the better interest of the presidency, if our president comes out to address us. If he is in a position to do so, but if he is not in a position to do so, people around our President should be honest enough to come out and tell us the true situation of the President’s health”
Akunyili’s comments are very telling. She is the Minister of Information yet she is completely in the dark as to the President’s condition. She claims that ministers were not even told of Yar’Adua’s departure abroad for treatment, of his return, nor do they know his current condition.
The interview with Dora at the link below is very instructive as it gives a running hour by hour commentary of what has been going on behind the scenes, and how ministers were apprehensive of their own safety and fearful of a military coup:
“We did not have information that our President was even traveling to Saudi Arabia until we saw it in the news, and when he was in the Saudi Arabia, we hardly got information….We never had a comprehensive channel of getting information that we are sure of and most of the information, sometimes, they don’t add up and it got very disturbing. When they don’t add up, you feel very awkward reporting such information. I believed the information, even though I kept wondering how things can be done better, until when I found that stories told by some of the presidential aide were not adding up, especially stories that are changed when they are told from one person to another.”