Abuja — Shock and disbelief among officers and soldiers of the armed forces trailed the announcement Thursday of a new Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim, new Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Dele Ezoba and new Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Bade.
The retention of Lt. General Onyeabor Azubuike Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff however did not come as a surprise as the Army Chief was seen as someone who has taken the Army to a new level with unprecedented expansion and operational capability that have ensured that most internal insurrections are kept at bay.
The new Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim who hails from Kwara State, was the immediate past Chief of Naval Staff and his appointment according to Vanguard investigation was based on the fact that the Airforce had produced two Chiefs of Defence Staff; Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike and Oluseyi Petinrin and it was therefore the turn of the Nigerian Navy in the order of rotation.
Vanguard had gathered that the outgoing CNS was going to be the next CDS when on Tuesday, at the launching of the new Navy Camouflage, the outgoing CDS, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, appeared in the new camouflage, in CDS rank.
The new Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Dele Ezoba was until his appointment, the Chief of Administration at Defence Headquarters. He had previously served as the Deputy Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna . He was one time Chief of Training and Operations at Naval headquarters under the administration of Vice Admiral Ola Ibrahim.
Before then he served as the Chairman of the Special Military Task Force set up by Air Chief Marshal Dike to checkmate illegal oil refineries, illegal jetties and activities of illegal bunkerers in the maritime environment. He was also the Director of Training at Defence headquarters among many others.
The new Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Bade who hails from Adamawa State, was the Air Officer Commanding Training Command in Kaduna, He was the Chief of Policy and Plans at NAF headquarters before his posting to Kaduna. He has also served as Director of Plans at NAF headquarters and worked as a pilot in the Presidential Air Fleet.
Air Vice Marshal Bade was put as Supervisor of the 2012 NAF Air Expo which held in Kaduna in the first quarter of this year by former CAS, Air Marshal MD Umar though Air Commodore was the Chairman, Organizing Committee.
Last Tuesday, Vanguard had reported exclusively that there was anxiety and uneasy calm within the military and security formations following impending reorganization in the hierarchy of the Defence and Services headquarters by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Vanguard was told that a new Chief of Defence Staff will soon be appointed which simultaneously will lead to the retirement and appointment of some new service Chiefs after their predecessors' would have spent more than two years in office.
It was furthered gathered that the appointment of the new service chiefs would coincide with the appointment of a new minister of Defence because the thinking of Mr. President is that the new team should take off together and map out modern ways of dealing with the myriad of internal security challenges facing the nation.
Giving what military sources said was a pointer to this impending change, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin at the commissioning of the DHQ Transit Quarters in Abuja yesterday which had all the Service Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Airforce in attendance, indicated his readiness to retire from the military after serving meritoriously for 36 years beyond the mandatory 35 years contained in military statutes.
Though Vanguard investigation showed that the CDS was ready to proceed on retirement in 2011 on attainment of 35 years but President Jonathan felt his services were still needed hence he extended his tenure by one more year.
As a result of the planned changes, it was gathered that lobbyist including politicians from particular zones of the country have started making overtures to the Aso Rock Villa with a view to ensuring that their preferred candidates benefit from the appointments. Though President Goodluck Jonathan has kept those to be appointed close to his chest.