As General Irabor Takes Over as Chief of Defence Staff
By Mahmud Abdulsalam

Many will not envy Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor at a time like this. When the country still battles insecurity, it is no-brainer that the days ahead for him will be rough.

Appointed barely a week ago, Gen. Irabor, has officially assumed office as the seventeenth Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).

The Delta-State born Army General has pledged to provide the right leadership and environment to enable officers and men of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) efficiently perform their constitutional responsibility of defending the nation against external aggression and other security challenges.

Gen Irabor took over the mantle of leadership from his immediate predecessor, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (rtd) in a brief handing and taking over ceremony held at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja.

The new CDS, who acknowledged that there were enormous security challenges currently facing the country, disclosed that “himself and the Service Chiefs will in no distant time take actions that will significantly add value to tackle the security challenges across the country.”

It is heartwarming to note that Irabor appreciates the enormity of the challenge saddled on his shoulders. These are times insecurity is maintaining a stranglehold on the soul of our dear nation. There is need for the CDS to march his words with action.

Still at the handing over ceremony, Maj Gen Irabor, while speaking, commended officers and men of the AFN for being part and parcel of the efforts and gains made thus far in the fight against insurgency, militancy, banditry and other sundry crimes.

He noted that he looks forward to greater contributions from them. The Defence Chief urged Nigerians to support the AFN and security agencies in tackling the contemporary security confronting the nation.

He added that the collective efforts and responsibility between the security agencies and the citizenry is an essential factor. Simply, Irabor is not saying what is out of place.

Nigerians know that they have a role to play in tackling insecurity. They should provide relevant information to security agencies, who in turn will swing into action to forestall the perpetration og violence and crimes.

Equally, the CDS who thanked the outgoing CDS and the other Service Chiefs for their leadership virtues and their immense contributions while in office, noted that giant strides and achievements were recorded under their command.

The CDS thanked Commander- in – Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari for his appointment, pledging his loyalty to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to carry out his duties with utmost sense of commitment.

The immediate past CDS, Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin in his valedictory Speech, expressed his gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for the opportunity to serve the nation at the apex Command of the AFN and for the contributions made under his watch as the CDS in containing the various security challenges which he noted pre-occupied the AFN throughout his tenure.

Gen Olonisakin who disclosed that the new CDS has been part of the operational efforts, urged him to continue to review the AFN strategy to address the changing nature of security threats.

He commended the immediate past Service Chiefs for their tireless efforts, saying that he was proud to have led, directed and coordinated their collective national security efforts.

The newly-appointed Service Chiefs, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Awwal Zabairu Gambo and the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Isiaka Oladayo Amao who have equally taken over the mantle of leadership in their respective Services were in attendance at the event, witnessed by the top brass of military.

The new Defence Chief, who is a member of 34 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), is an alumnus of the National Defence College Bangladesh and the Harvard Kennedy Schools of Government and Executive Education, USA.

He holds Masters Degrees from University of Ghana, Accra and Bangladesh University of Professional, Dhaka.

Prior to his recent appointment, Gen LEO Irabor was the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command, Nigerian Army. The senior officer served in numerous capacities, prime among which were: Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Force Commander, Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the Chief of Defence Training and Operations.

The senior officer is a recipient of ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping medals for operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

Gen. Irabor and his colleagues Service Chiefs are not oblivious of the expectations of Nigerians and Mr. President, in particular, on them. Nigeria is battling to contain criminal elements and violent groups that want to undermine the country’s sovereignty.

In the last five years, the immediate-past Service Chiefs gave their all and ensured that despite ravaging insecurity, Nigeria remain a sovereign entity. The journey ahead of Gen. Irabor as CDS, in particular, is nigh rough and tortous. But his leadership pedigree and track record as a celebrated and high-flying military officer, are his selling points.

He will surely maximize them to nurture a Nigerian Armed Forces that will be responsive to its constitutional duty of tackling the country’s adversaries, whose heinous activities are escalating insecurity.

Mahmud Abdulsalam is Assistant Editor PRNigeria


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