A DANGEROUS TREND IN THE NIGERIAN ARMY
There is a new dangerous trend in promotions and recruitment in the Nigerian Army, which should be firmly and promptly checked before it destroys the military and the country. This trend is clearly visible in the manner in which the current Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika is handling these two important aspects of running an effective army institution, which is very critical to the survival of any state. It appears that the Chief of Army Staff is on a specific mission, most probably, sponsored by some sinister dark forces bent on destroying the army and setting the country on the path of serious conflagration. From all indication General Ihejirika is deliberately and recklessly pursuing a plan to destroy the career of senior non Igbo officers while at the same time embarking on a massive recruitment of soldiers of Igbo stock in order to eclipse all other ethnic groups in the Nigerian Army. This is raising serious concern within the army.
Let us, first, examine the promotion exercises carried out in all the formations since the elevation of Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika to the office of Chief of Army Staff. We begin with the Ordinance Corps.
THE ORDINANCE CORPS
In 2010, the Ordinance Corps presented the following brigadiers for consideration for promotion to the rank of Major General:
1. Brigadier Kachallah of NDA Course 22
2. Brigadier Oginni of NDA Course 23
3. Brigadier Martins of NDA Course 24
4. Brigadier Ugwu of NDA Course 25
It is instructive to note that of these four officers it was only Brigadier Ugwu, the most junior who was promoted. As is well known Brigadier Ugwu was of NDA Course 25 but was eventually relegated to course 26. This promotion was cynically effected in order to elevate Brigadier Ugwu above the others who by this act, automatically lost their seniority. Thus Brigadier Ugwu is today, Ordinance Corps Commander ahead of all his seniors.
THE ARMOURED CORPS
The situation was no different in the Armoured Corps. In 2010 the following officers were promoted.
1 Brigadier Oshonowo of NDA Course 24
2. Brigadier Nwaogbo of NDA Course 25
3. Brigadier Awala of NDA Course 25
In appointing the Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Ihejirika sacrificed the vaunted military tradition of respect for seniority and competence. He by-passed Brigadier Oshinowo, who was the most senior and the overall best in NDA Course 24. Instead, General Ihejirika appointed Brigadier Nwaogbo Corps Commander. Obviously this happened because Nwaogbo is Igbo. Let us examine the Supply and Transport Corps.
SUPPLY AND TRANSPORT CORPS
A similar situation presented itself in the Supply and Transport Corps which recommended the following Brigadiers for promotion in 2011:
1. Brigadier Baidon of NDA Course 25
2. Brigadier Magaji of NDA Course 26
3. Brigadier Nienger of NDA Course 26
4. Brigadier Agha Okoro of NDA Course 28
It is astonishing that of these officers, only their junior Agha Okoro of NDA Course 28 was promoted. Clearly, this was done in order to give Brigadier Okoro undue advantage to take over from Major General Gana as Corps Commander.
CORPS OF ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERS
This dangerous trend was also noticeable in the Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. In 2011 the following Brigadiers were presented for promotion.
1. Ariende ( of Edo State)
Since Labaran was already in the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), where a Major General vacancy existed, he was lucky but Chioba was also promoted. Chioba’s promotion was to pave the way for him to emerge as Corps Commander of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
NATIONAL DEFENCE COLLEGE COURSE 18
Let us also consider the case of officers of the National Defence College Course 18
Of all the officers of NDA Course 33 who attended the National Defence College Course 18, only one officer was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. His name is Duru. The Igbo boy. This officer’s grade on the course was a High C. Many other officers on the course came out with C+ grades but were not promoted last year.
Col Oyekan who was outstanding in the course and even had an award was not promoted. Similarly Col Shodunke who also got an award, was not promoted. He only got promoted this year having lost seniority by one year. The scheme was to deliberately slow down Col Shodunke to give Duru seniority. What is even more diabolical about this terrible scheme is that the award-winning Col Oyekan is still languishing for a second year without promotion. The treatments meted out to these two officers become even more disturbing given the fact that both Shodunke and Oyekan were Directing Staff (DR), at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, an appointment reserved for only the most outstanding officers. The question that arises from all this, is, what should an officer do in the Nigerian Army led by General Ihejitika to get recognition? Mediocrity?
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE AS A CURSE
It appears that it is a curse for an officer to perform outstandingly and professionally in the Nigerian Army headed General Ihejirika. This can be exemplified by the case of Colonel Soleye, one of the finest officers of his generation.
Two officers from the same state , Ogun, attended the National Defence College, Course 18. Both of them hail from Abeokuta. They were Colonels Soleye and Fadunsi. The former came out of that course with C+ grade. He had a High C in his Senior Division Staff Course and C+ in his Junior Division Staff Courses. The other officer, Fadunsi had a High C grade in the NDC Course and a C grade in both his Senior and Junior Staff Courses. Yet this officer was promoted ahead of Soloye who has a National Honour for Gallantry in Liberia as a platoon commander. Col Soloye also had various awards from the then Chief of Army Staff. But he is now languishing for a second year without promotion. Reason? his outstanding personal and professional records. The plan here, just as in the case of Oyekan, is to slow down this rising star that might get in the way of Igbo officers “destined” by General Ihejirika to rise above him. By the way, Soleye’s type of gallantry in Liberia was not the cash and carry type. He almost lost both of his legs in trying to save his soldiers’ lives. Investigation has also revealed that he has so far no disciplinary case against him. Lieutenant General Ihejirika is still not done. He pursued his fiendish scheme with NDC Course 19.
NDC COURSES 19 and 20: EXCELLENCE AS DAMNATION
Let us again examine the case of NDC Course 19. Two officers excelled in that course: Col Unuigbe and Adefarati. Col Unuigbe not only came third, but also had an award for his performance. He was also given a commendation by the Chief of Army Staff and recommended to return as Directing Staff. He is still a Colonel!! Colonel Adefarati was also outstanding. Although he came 5th in that course, he was also denied promotion.
This deliberate destruction of the careers of diligent officers has continued with NDC course 20.
Col Olu who came 1st in the course, was for some strange reason not promoted. Of all the officers on the course who were due for promotion, only two were promoted. These are Colonels Egbudon and Okonkwo who coincidentally happen to be Igbo.
The most shocking was the case of Colonel John Enenche who is Idoma. Enenche had two Chief of Army Staff commendations, one National Honour and very strong C+ in the course. Yet he was denied promotion in order to, just like in the case of Col Soleye, to slow him down for General Ihejirika’s kinsmen to catch up,with them in the Corps of Engineers.
Let us go back to the Corps of Supply and Transport where two Brigadiers were retired, thus creating two vacancies for promotion. The two officers retired were Magaji and Baidom. The Corps had only one officer to present for promotion to Brigadier. This officer is Colonel Jidda who is a former Directing Staff at the Command and Staff College, Jaji. Col Jidda also graduated from the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru with a B Grade. Colonel Jidda was not promoted in the last promotion exercise. The point here is that there were vacancies for two but only one was available. A good officer at that, but he was denied promotion. The only reason for this is that the other officer , Col Anene, an Igbo, who could have been presented alongside Jidda for promotion could not be presented because he was in NIPPS, Kuru on a course. If Jidda had been promoted, he would have automatically gained seniority over this Igbo officer. The idea is for Jidda to wait for the Igbo boy to graduate from NIPPS so they can be presented next year with other officers from NDC course 21. Most likely, some Igbo officers would then edge out Jidda who will then suffer the faith of Col Oyekan and Col Soleye.
Similarly in the Finance Corps, a Brigadier General was retired thereby creating vacancy for promotion. So far only one officer has been presented for promotion for two consecutive years without success. This officer is Colonel Rufus Adejoro who graduated from NDC with a C+. It is obvious that Col Adejoro who is on his last lap is being deliberately kept for age to catch up with him, so that when next he is presented along with a suitable “Kith and Kin” he will be edged out.
Furthermore, there is the case of Brig. Gen M. L. Raji of the Artillery Corps. This officer was wrongfully accused of releasing a Boko Haram terrorist from detention. Although Raji was court martialled he was cleared of all charges and acquitted. As is well-known, this officer’s record has always been outstanding. He was clearly heading to the top but had to be slowed down for others. Having been cleared of all charges, he was presented for promotion in 2011 but was denied. The idea was to stigmatize him. He was again denied promotion in 2012. This means he is now in a precarious situation.
PROMOTING MEDIOCRITY AND NEPOTISM
In some instances it appears that Gen Ihejiriaka is not only interested in advancing the interests of his kith and kin but is also hell bent on promoting mediocrity in the army. We can illustrate this by taking the case of NDA Course 29. This course has many outstanding officers but pre-eminent amongst these is Brigadier General Oyebade.
Brigadier Oyebade not only had a B grade in his Senior Staff Course in Pakistan, he achieved an A Grade in National Defence University in Pakistan. Brigadier Oyebade was a Directing Staff (DS), in the Staff College, Jaji and Defence College, Abuja. However the officer was denied promotion in the just concluded exercise.
Still on NDA course 29. Brig. Odunukwe of the Corps of Signals had to be promoted at all costs during the last promotion, otherwise age would have caught up with him on the rank. He just had to be promoted. This explains why he was promoted alongside two other signal officers. Out of the three promoted, two are Igbos, the other being Brig Orji. Again for Orji, he was in a tight spot. This was his last chance, but because Ihejirika did not want his calculations to appear obvious, he inserted a Yoruba officer, Ologundudu, to smoke up people’s vision.
It should be mentioned that many Igbo officers who have an age problem were not presented with letters of retirement unlike others who have since been eased out without a chance to progress. A case in mind is that of Brig Gen U.M Danko from Bauchi who was never presented for any promotion board since he was promoted in 2008. Nefariously, the officer was blocked from being presented three times so that age will catch up with him.
In course 30 of NDA, four (4) officers were presented but none was promoted. These officers include Brigadier P.A.T Akem, S. Abubakar, Ebenebe and Okoh. The reason is that if any were to be promoted, it would have to be an Igbo officer. It would difficult to drop Akem, a Tiv officer or, Abubakar an Igbirra officer, both with very good records. General Ihejirika therefore preferred to sacrifice Ebenebe and Okoh, who in any case did not have age on their side, for officers from junior course (SS 26). The idea again being that for every promotion he must insert an Igbo. For example, he picked Duru from course 33, leaving behind Akem whose records are outstanding or Abubakar who did very well in NDC.
Gen Ihejirika’s entrenchment of mediocrity and nepotism in the Nigerian army becomes clearer when we consider the promotion and postings of Brigadier Onoeveta. This officer was the ADC to the late President Umary Yar’adua, who was central to the scheme to deploy soldiers at the airport when the late Yar’adua was flown into the country from Saudi Arabia. He did so by disobeying the Chief of Defence Staff, National Security Adviser and the acting President. He prevented Acting President Goodluck from functioning until the death of President Yar’adua. Curiously after the death of President Yar ‘adua, Brigadier Onoeveta’s colleagues were summarily retired or denied promotion. For example, Brigadier Mustapha, the Commander Guards Brigade is still a Brigadier years after the death of President Yar’adua. However, not only was Brigadier Onoeveta a crafty never-do-well Officer promoted, he has also been elevated above all his seniors who are known in the army to be far more solid and diligent officers than him. Mention should also be made here of Brigadier S.D Bala, Dadan Garba, D.E. L Yakubu, Oyekan, Akem and S. Abubakar, Soleye, Adefarati, Olatunde and Jidda, Marmoni, A.M Aliyu etc. all officers who have made their mark in the army as we mentioned above. The question that arises is: what explains the retention and the preferential treatment being given to Brigadier Oneveta, who is notorious for mediocrity. One plausible explanation for this elevation of mediocrity is that it is a calculated attempt to achieve certain sinister or diabolical objective perhaps known only to General Ihejirika and the dark forces behind his actions.
DISREGARD FOR ARMY COUNCIL DECISIONS
The pursuit of General Ihejirika’s evil agenda also manifest themselves clearly in his disregard for decisions of the Army Council. As the table below shows the Army Council approved the retirement of 11Major Generals but General Ihejirika retired 12. Similarly, 26 Brigadiers were retired instead 25 approved by the Council while 13 Colonels were retired instead of the 12 approved.
Analysis of Retirement in the Nigerian Army
Rank Retirements Approved by Army Council Retirements Carried Out
Major General 11 12
Brigadier General 25 26
Colonel 12 13
Total 48 51
The unauthorised officers retired were:
Major General O. Akinyemi N/6071 South West
Brigadier General U.M Dank N/7178 North East
Col F.C. Adaka N/8876 South South
IHEJIRIKA’S IGBO ARCHITECTURE
General Ihejirika’s Igbo architecture becomes very clear when we look at the disposition of Brigadiers holding strategic positions in the Nigerian Army today. Just consider this:
Brig OKORO is the sector commander in UNAMSIL( Liberia).
Brig DURU is the Director of Logistics in NDC, being prepared for a higher position.
Brig CHIOBA is the de facto oga in AHQ Policy and Plans.
Brig EGWUAGU is the Director at AHQ in charge of recruitment, positioning and promotion of all soldiers in the NIgerian Army!
Brig EBENEBE is the Director of operations in AHQ.
Brig OKOH is the Acting Chief of Logistics in AHQ. His three Directors are all Igbos.
Major General BUZUGBE is the Military Secretary in charge of postings, retirements etc.
RECRUITMENT OF SOLDIERS INTO THE NIGERIAN ARMY DEPOT, ZARIA
This attempt to Igbonise the Nigerian Army becomes clearer when we look at the pattern of recruitment of soldiers into the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, under General Ihejirika. As the table below shows, there has been a massive recruitment of soldiers from his ethnic group to the disadvantage of others.
For example, Abia state, the home state of General Ihejirika, with a population of only 2.8 million has so far had the largest share of recruits, 450, far above Kano with a population of 9.3 million and Lagos with a population of just over 9 million and Kaduna with a population of just over 9 million. These states have so far had 259, 255 and 382 recruits respectively. The case of Ebonyi is also symptomatic of this glaring lopsidedness in the recruitment figures. Thus although 377 were recruited from Ebonyi with a population of just 2.2 million, Oyo State with a population of 5.6 million had only 282; Katsina with a population of 5.8 million had only 248; Lagos State with a population of just over 9 million had only 255 and only 271 was recruited from Plateau state with a population of of 3.2 million.
When the same table is analysed on zonal basis, General Ihejirika’s bias in favour of his zone also becomes patently clear. The South east geopolitical zone with a population of 16.3 million has so far had the highest recruits – 1925. The North West, which is the largest geopolitical zone with a population of 35.8 million, double that of South East, has only 1949 recruits. Similarly, the South west geopolitical zone with a population of 27.6 million has only 1561 recruits. Thousands of qualified recruits from these states have had their applications turned down by a kangaroo selection group set up by General Ihejirika.
GEOPOLITICAL ZONES STATES POPULATION 66 RRI 67 RRI 68 RRI TOTAL
SOUTH EAST ABIA 2,833,999 155 143 152 450
ANAMBRA 4,182,032 93 105 115 313
EBONYI 2,173,501 126 141 110 377
ENUGU 3,257,928 114 129 110 353
IMO 3,934,899 153 129 152 432
TOTAL 16,382,359 641 647 639 192
SOUTH SOUTH AKWA IBOM 3,920, 208 90 101 116 307
BAYELSA 1,703,358 67 144 105 316
CROSS RIVER 2,888,966 128 115 152 395
DELTA 4,098,391 85 122 121 328
EDO 3,218,332 90 103 108 301
RIVERS 5,185,400 72 102 95 269
TOTAL 21,014,655 532 687 697 1916
EKITI 2,384,212 52 87 93 232
LAGOS 9,013,534 65 102 88 255
OGUN 3,728,098 66 98 96 260
ONDO 3,441,024 68 100 99 267
OSUN 3,423,535 71 98 96 265
OYO 5,591,589 77 102 103 282
TOTAL 27,581,992 399 587 575 1561
JIGAWA 4,348,649 68 82 101 251
KANO 9,383,682 76 72 111 259
KATSINA 5,792,578 71 80 97 248
KEBBI 3,238,628 91 77 99 267
KADUNA 6,066,562 138 100 144 382
SOKOTO 3,696,999 67 92 90 249
ZAMFARA 3,259,846 72 117 94 283
TOTAL 35,786,944 583 620 736 1939