Rivers Gets First Chief Of Army Staff …As Jonathan Names Minimah, Three Other Service Chiefs

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Rivers State in the South-South geo-political zone of Nigeria yesterday made a remarkable stride as it produced its first Chief of Army Staff in a surprise military shake-up announced by the Presidency.
Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah from Opobo Kingdom in Rivers State, yesterday replaced Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika from Abia State, South East, as Chief of Army Staff.
President Goodluck Jonathan announced the replacement in the entire military leadership without any explanation.
A surprise statement by the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, announced the removal of the Chiefs of Defence, Army, Navy and Air Force and named their successors.
All the four newly appointed Service Chiefs are experienced military officials in their mid-50s. Air Marshal Alex Badeh – who is from Adamawa State, one of three in the North East under emergency rule – takes over from Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim as Chief of Defence Staff, the Presidency said in a statement.
Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin is the new Chief of Naval Staff and Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu has become the Chief of Air Force, a position previously held by newly promoted Badeh, the Presidency said.
While erstwhile Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, was appointed the new Chief of Defence Staff, all the other service chiefs were dropped.
The statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, reads in part:
“President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, approved the following changes in the nation’s Military High Command:
“Air Marshal Alex Badeh takes over from Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim as Chief of Defence Staff;
“Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah takes over from Lt.-General Azubike O. Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff;
“Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin takes over from Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba as Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu takes over from Air Marshal Badeh as Chief of Air Staff.
“All the changes are with immediate effect.
“The new Chief of Defence Staff and former Chief of Air Staff, 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.
“The new Chief of Army Staff, 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 Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman 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 Chief of Naval Staff, 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.”
It, however, gave no reason but the military has suffered a series of setbacks recently in fighting the Boko Haram sect which is trying to create an Islamic state in North East Nigeria.
Boko Haram gunmen stormed the Air Force base and military barracks around the Maiduguri airport 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.
“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.
Jonathan ordered a state of emergency and an intensified military surge last May in the North East, where the bulk of Boko Haram attacks take place.
He was forced to extend emergency rule in November as troops struggled to contain the insurgents.
A Presidency source said Jonathan was keen to score some visible successes against the insurgents before what are expected to be closely contested elections next year.
The president is also facing a political crisis in his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and mass defections to an increasingly powerful opposition.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police yesterday pulled out two Deputy Inspectors-General of Police, Marvel Akpoyibo and Philemon Leha, who retired from the force after reaching 60 years of age.
Akpoyibo, until his retirement, was DIG in charge of Training while Leha was DIG, Operations.
They were enlisted into the police in 1980 as Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, described them as officers who had exhibited courage, operational sagacity, uncommon tactical expertise and professionalism in service.
“It can therefore be said that they had given a good account of themselves by successfully serving the Nigeria Police with impeccable records.
“Today, it is befitting, we honour these DIGs, whose lives have been a profound inspiration to us.
“Their brilliant contributions accounted for the successes of the present police management and transformation in the Nigeria police,’’ he said.
The I-G said that one notable attribute of the two retiring senior officers was their strong dedication and commitment to the service of the nation.
He urged them to continue to support the police in every aspect of their lives even as they “permanently drop the arms and uniform’’.

Executive Governor, Rivers State, Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi (middle) inspecting a parade, during 2014 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at Isaac Boro Park, Port Harcourt, last Wednesday. Photo; Egberi A Sampson
Executive Governor, Rivers State, Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi (middle) inspecting a parade, during 2014 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at Isaac Boro Park, Port Harcourt, last Wednesday. Photo; Egberi A Sampson