Irabor, Amao, Gambo assume duty as Nigeria’s service chiefs

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The new chief of defence staff, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, yesterday took over the mantle of the leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria from his predecessor, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin.

His newly nominated colleagues also took charge as helmsmen at the navy and air force.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday appointed Irabor alongside the three service chiefs.

The president named Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru as chief of army staff, AVM Isiaka Amao as chief of air staff and Rear Admiral Auwal Gambo as chief of naval staff.

In line with the tradition of the armed forces, the outgone chief of defence staff decorated his successor and handed the insignia and the flag of the office to him.

The former CDS, in his valedictory remarks said he was bowing out of service with a great feeling of fulfilment, having led the Armed Forces of Nigeria for five years, six months and 13 days.

Olonisakin, who is the 16th CDS, said it was a rare privilege for him to have served the country as a military officer for about 40 years.

He highlighted achievements of the military in the fight against security threats across the country during his tenure.

The former CDS said confronting security threats had been the major preoccupation of the military throughout his tenure.

“Gratefully with the support of the political leadership, the Armed Forces of Nigeria under my leadership, was able to reclaim all territories that were then under the control of the Boko Haram.

“While the terrorism/insurgency remains a security issue the country is grappling with, the armed forces is equally engaged in assisting the government in addressing other security issues, in line with our constitutional roles.

“While the armed forces under my leadership grappled with some operational and logistics challenges, the DHQ made some modest achievements aimed at improving operational capacity, logistics and welfare needs of officers and men,’’ he said.

While hailing the appointment of Irabor as his successor, Olonisakin said the new CDS was familiar with the security challenges, having previously served as Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole and Multinational Joint Task Force.

He said there could not have been a better choice of a seasoned senior officer, ”who will hit the ground running as the new CDS”.

“As the incoming CDS is already aware, we have continued to review our strategy to address the changing nature of the adversaries and security threats, making intelligence gathering a premium input to our operations plan,’’ he said.

Responding, the new CDS said that he was familiar with the security situation of the country.

He added that all new service chiefs had been part of the efforts to address the security challenges facing the country.

Irabor commended the former CDS for the purposeful leadership he provided during his leadership.

He, however, called on all Nigerians to join hands and support the military in the quest to ensure that peace and security returned to the country.

He also pledged to provide the right leadership and ambience for the members of the armed forces to perform their duties effectively.

Irabor thanked Buhari for considering him fit for the appointment as CDS and pledged to hit the ground running.

“Let me thank the former CDS and the former service chiefs for their various contributions throughout their tenure in office.

“It is by virtue of their leadership that the strides that were being made were achieved,’’ Mr Irabor said.

He appealed to Nigerians to support the military and other security agencies in ensuring that peace and tranquillity return to the country.

Also on yesterday, the new chief of air staff, Amao, took over the mantle of the leadership of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in a colourful handing – over ceremony by his predecessor, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar.

Also, in line with the Nigerian Air Force tradition, the outgone CAS decorated his successor with the medal of office.

Abubakar, while handing over the mantle of leadership, recalled that his administration succeeded in turning NAF around into a highly professional service.

“In 2015, we set out to reposition NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force and we clearly defined how we intended to do that through capacity building initiatives.

“I am very excited that we have not only restructured the service substantially, we have also embarked on massive air operations in different parts of the country, especially in the North-East.

“In the North-east alone, we have been able to generate over 37,000 flying hours and we have also restructured NAF, and brought in quite a number of personnel into the system.

“We have brought in about 10,000 personnel that are currently in the system, in terms of the key personnel required for the employment of airpower.

“We have been able to train 133 pilots and these represent about 49 per cent of the total active pilots that are flying to defend the country today,“ he said.

Abubakar urged the new CAS to ensure he consolidated on the achievement of his administration by taking the service to a greater height.

Amao expressed delight while receiving the baton of leadership of the service from his predecessor whom he described as a visionary leader.

He also expressed appreciation to God for the gift of life and the rare opportunity and privilege to be appointed the 21st air chief.

Amao thanked Buhari for the confidence, he reposed in him. It is no mean feat and I therefore take this opportunity most seriously.

“Let me specially thank the outgone air chief for his unprecedented and exemplary leadership throughout his tenure. Sir, you have no doubt left indelible marks in the sands of time.

“Your undeniable drive for human capacity building, infrastructural development, research and development amongst others is testament to your desire for a better NAF,” he said.

Amao promised to consolidate on the good work of his predecessor for a better Nigerian Air Force.

Gambo also assumes office

Meanwhile, former chief of naval staff, AVM Ibok Ete-Ibas, also on Friday in Abuja, decorated Gambo, as the new chief of naval staff.

Ete-Ibas decorated his successor with the Admiralty Medal in a ceremony.

Ete-Ibas also recalled that in 2015, when he took over the mantle of leadership as the chief of naval staff, he outlined his vision and mission on how he would take the service to greater heights.

“My vision and the mission then was that since the service has a lead role to play in combating maritime crimes to safeguard the nation’s prosperity and wellbeing of the citizenry, there was a need to reposition it.

“The adverse impact of these crimes was and remains enormous and we concluded that they should not be allowed to continue.

“So, we resolve to frontally confront the illegal bunkering and crude oil theft, piracy and other criminal activities in the maritime environment with all the resources at our disposal.

“Today, our collective efforts have no doubt, yielded a very positive result by not only safeguarding the nation’s maritime environment, but also other crimes and criminality across the country,” he said

He, therefore, urged all officers and civilian staff to adhere to high standards of discipline, loyalty, integrity, selfless service, teamwork and professionalism in the discharge of their responsibilities.

He also urged Gambo to make sure he “consolidates on his achievement by sustaining them.

“I prayed that the almighty God be with you, guide, protect and direct you on the part of success.”

In his remarks, Gambo expressed delight that the leadership of the service had fallen on him as the new naval chief.

“In the last five years, the outgone administration has achieved giant strides and I most sincerely thank the outgone naval chief and his personnel for achieving such a feat,” he said.

The new naval chief assured Ete-Ibas that he would consolidate on the good work he met on ground to take the service to a greater height.

Attahiru had earlier taken over the mantle of leadership of the Nigerian Army in an elaborate handing over ceremony by his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Thursday in Abuja.

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