President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Thursday approved sweeping changes in the nation’s military high command. The erstwhile Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh takes over from Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim as Chief of Defence Staff, while Major-General Kenneth Minimah replaces Lt.-General Azubike Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff.
Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin is the new Chief of Naval Staff. He takes over from Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba. Also, Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu takes the baton from Air Marshal Badeh as Chief of Air Staff.
A statement issued by the President’s media aide, Dr. Reuben Abati, said all the changes are with immediate effect.
The new Chief CDS, Air Marshal Badeh was born on January 10, 1957 and joined the Air Force as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s 21 Regular Course while the new COAS, Major-General Minimah was born on July 27, 1959 and joined the Army as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s 25 Regular Course.
Until his new appointment, Major-General Minimah was the Commander of the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps, Jaji.
The new CNS, Rear Admiral Jibrin was born on September 16, 1959 and joined the Navy as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s 24 Regular Course. Until his appointment as CNS, he was Director of Training at Defence Headquarters.
The new Chief of Air Staff and immediate past Commander of the Presidential Air Fleet, Air Vice Marshal Amosu was born on August 1, 1958 and joined the Air Force as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s 25 Regular Course. Until his new appointment, Air Vice Marshal Amosu was the Air Officer Commanding, Tactical Air Command, Makurdi.
“President Jonathan has briefed the leadership of the National Assembly on the appointment of the new service chiefs and will, in keeping with the provisions of the law, request the National Assembly to formally confirm the appointments when it reconvenes,” Abati said in the statement.
Although the statement gave no reason for the sweeping changes, analysts reason that the military has suffered a series of setbacks recentl, particularly in fighting the Boko Haram sect.
Boko Haram gunmen stormed the air force base and military barracks around the airport of the northeastern city of Maiduguri on December 2. The group was also suspected of being behind a car bomb in the city this week which killed 29 people and wounded dozens more.
“I think this is performance-related,” a security expert in Nigeria said, adding that “The security teams haven’t had a glowing record recently. The air force base attack was shocking.”
Boko Haram has waged a four-year-long insurgency which has killed thousands in the religiously mixed country of 170 million and is the biggest security threat in Africa’s top oil exporter and second largest economy.
The Nigerian army had its own internal shake-up of senior and mid-level positions in December.