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Enugu Connections of Nigeria’s New Service Chiefs

Two of the four service chiefs appointed yesterday, 26 January 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari have Enugu Coal City connections.

While one was born in the Coal City, the other commanded the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu.

The third Service Chief and the leader among them is Igbo, from the Ika stock in Delta State of Nigeria.

Altogether, the four parade enviable credentials that should lead them to excellent performance, now that they are fully in charge.

The Air Chief, as an example, is a trained and experienced fighter pilot. The Naval Chief is an underwater warfare specialist and trained intelligence officer.

Both Defense and Army Chiefs are battle-tested. They directly confronted Boko Haram and bandits in the North East as field Commanders of Operation Lafiya Dole. It is expected that they know the problems on the ground and should be able to come up with strategic solutions to bring peace to Northern Nigeria.

Here are fun facts about the service chiefs.

Born an Igbo

Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea (LEO) Irabor (56), new Chief of Defense Staff.

He is Igbo, from Aluokpu Agbor in Ika South LGA of Delta State. He is also an engineerinh graduate of University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University).

Leo Irabor attended Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) as a member of regular course 34. This makes him senior to the other service chiefs who passed through NDA after him.

Among his numerous experiences: Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the special operations to dislodge Boko Haram and bandits from the North East.

Experience: Knows the North East War Theatre like the back of his hand.

Served in Enugu

Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru (55), new Chief of Army Staff.

Gen. Attahiru took over command of Operation Lafiya Dole from Irabo but could not meet the tall target set for him. The target: Capture Ibrahim Shekau, the Boko Haram warlord, dead or alive, within 40 days. He was subsequently withdrawn and replaced.

Attahiru served in Enugu as Commander of the Army’s 82nd Division.

He is from Kaduna North LGA of Kaduna State
and a member of NDA’s Regular Course 35.

Experience: Knows the North East War Theatre like the back of his hand.

Born in Enugu

Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao (56), new Chief of Air Staff.

Amao, was yesterday pulled from the Tactical Air Command to head the Air Force.

Although born in Enugu, his parents are from Oshogbo LGA in Osun State.

He is a member of NDA’s Regular Course 35 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 20 December 1986..

Amao received extensive training as a fighter pilot in Nigeria. He also attended defence trainings at Jaji (Nigeria), China, India and Pakistan.

Experience: Knows the North East War Theatre like the back of his hand.

The Egghead

Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubaru (55)

Zubairu attended NDA’s Regular Course 36 and was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant on 24 September 1988.

With a master and doctorate degrees in Transport Technology, he is clearly the egghead among the new service chiefs.

In spite of this, Zubairu, from Nasarawa LGA in Kano State trained as an Underwater Warfare specialist with a sub-specialisation in Intelligence.

Experience: Should be able to support the North East War Theatre with his intelligence training and local knowledge.

A peaceful future assured?

Well, lets face it. It’s nice to know that two of the four new service chiefs have Enugu Coal City connections.

On a serious note. Field officers and commanders in North East often complain that they are denied weapons and logistics to fight.

The old field commanders are now the new service chiefs, and will have no excuses to offer for future non-performance.

Again, the service chiefs are from the same age band and have more than four years each to retire from the military. Their appointments therefore give each of them a golden opportunity to leave the Service in a blaze of glory. Or exit in shame and disgrace like their predecessors.