Service chiefs nominees assure Nigerians, international community on adoption of new security strategies
• To reposition Armed Forces, leverage on technology
The four newly appointed Service Chiefs, on Wednesday, assured Nigerians and international community of their resolve to take proactive steps in tackling security challenges facing the country.
The Service Chiefs namely Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka O. Amao, Chief of Air Staff gave the assurance in Abuja during their opening remarks during the Screening Exercise initiated by the House of Representatives’ Special Screening Committee, Hon Babajimi Benson.
Speaking earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff nominee, Major General Lucky Irabor who was commissioned in 1986 (35 years ago) said: “If confirmed, my intention is to foster a better Armed Forces that is capable of making effectively, the imperatives of the constitution.
“By so doing, I intend to have some pillars that are aligned with this broad focus of leadership. This may not come out as a vision because I believe that visions are meant for institutions and not individuals.
“As a military commander, I intend to have leadership focus in outlining the broad areas, to this, I intend to build very professional armed forces that are effective, agile, result-oriented and of course, one that is loyal to constituted authority.”
In his remarks, Chief of Army Staff nominee, Major General Attahiru, promised to reposition the Nigerian Army to professionally defeat adversaries, by adopting the style that “would be an integrative approach that would involve every Nigerian in providing adequate security for the country.”
While acknowledging that the appointment is coming in this very trying time, Major General Attahiru promised to provide the right leadership for the Army to thrive.
He assured that the “emphasis would be particularly on the role of government and role of society approach, where each and every Nigerian would be part of the security architecture to bring an end to our current problems.
“The vision is embedded in the command philosophy, built on specific pillars such as readiness, the duty to country, dependability and continuous leadership development. For particular emphasis, mission readiness, training, functional manning and equipment, loyalty and sacrifice to the fatherland and continuous leadership development. We will build an Army that will be innovative in the 21st century.”
On his part, the Chief of Naval Staff nominee, Rear Admiral Auwal Gambo, underscored the need for loyalty, cooperation, commitment, knowledge and skills of all Officers, Ratings and Civilian Staff of the Nigerian Navy.
He also promised to optimally harness these for the benefits of the service and the nation, adding that: “If confirmed as Chief of the Naval Staff, I intend to leverage on all factors of national location, technology, training, teamwork and synergy to re-energise the Nigerian Navy and enhance her as a well-motivated and ready to discharge her constitutional mandate and other tasks in fulfilment of the national security objectives.”
In his address, the Chief of Air Staff nominee, Air Vice Marshall Isiaka Amao, who was commissioned in 1984 (37 years ago), unveiled plans enhance and sustain critical airpower capability required in pursuit of national security imperatives.
He also assured on doctrinal development and joint military operations, pursue purposeful training and human capacity development, as well as ensure that weapons and equipment serviceability are sustained through elevating maintenance methods and logistic support system.
The Air Vice-Marshal Amao also pledged to foster a disciplined workforce essential for combat readiness.
Speaking after the screening, Hon Benson said: “The essence of the framers of our Constitution requiring the Service Chiefs to be confirmed by the National Assembly is to reiterate the supremacy of civil authority over the military in a constitutional democracy. We shall therefore take our role very seriously and we intend to discharge our responsibilities diligently on behalf of Nigerians.
“Nigeria as a country is blessed with brave and gallant soldiers; many of whom have paid the ultimate price in service to the country. It is to their memories that we must get it right with our National Security and help secure the peace for which they gave their lives.
“We are therefore here today to perform the screening exercise of the nominees as part of the legal confirmation process. From the inception of this 9th House of Representatives, National Security has been discussed more than 200 times at plenary.
“Yet the nation is still grappling with diverse and increasing security challenges, despite some successes recorded by the gallant men and women of our Armed Forces. While I appreciate there is no single magic solution, I believe the kind of leadership provided to our Armed Forces is part of the solution mix.
“I can assure you that the Nominees will be grilled on questions covering a wide range of subjects. Areas in which they will be questioned include; Professional skill and experience, Nigeria’s war on terror and insurgency and insecurity in general, Funding of the military, Strategic security knowledge and vision of the Nominees, Welfare of military personnel.
“We are aware of the many sensitivities around National Security matters and because of our desire to robustly engage the nominees to a good level of granularity across many subject areas; we have decided to conduct these vigorous exchanges behind closed doors.
“This will not only help protect national security but more importantly also give the nominee the freedom to respond more adequately, comprehensively and expansively without any fear of an unwitting exposure of sensitive information.”
In his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, said the government was aware of the constitutional provision that all nominated candidates should be screened by the National Assembly before they are confirmed.
He said: “I am happy that we did not run foul of the law. Since they were appointed, we only called them designate and refused them to wear the rank of their various offices. If you see them right now, they are still wearing their old ranks.
“The CDS is supposed to be a full General, while the Service Chiefs should be Lt. Generals and equivalent. Let me assure you that the Armed Forces of Nigeria today is fully aware of its constitutional role and we are prepared more than ever before to subordinate the military to civil authority. That we will do in order to promote cohesion and national unity in the country.
“I have no doubt that those nominated by Mr President will no doubt make this country very proud. I hope the House will recognise the importance of their assignment. Today, we had a setback somewhere and as soon as we finish from here, the appropriate service chief will take care of that. I want to assure you that we will deliver on the expectations of Nigerians.
“I can assure you that the nominees will be grilled on questions covering a wide range of subjects.
“Areas in which they will be questioned include professional skill and experience, Nigeria’s war on terror and insurgency and insecurity in general, funding of the military and strategic security knowledge and vision of the nominees as well as welfare of military personnel.”