Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, said Nigerians are not in a position to assess the competence or suitability of the new service chiefs appointed by his principal.
“You and I would not be able to assess them because we are civilians. To use the word of the military, we are bloody civilians. We would not know. So, we are not in a position to assess these service chiefs and why they were appointed,” Adesina said Tuesday on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme reported by The PUNCH.
After much pressure from Nigerians for the President to bring in fresh hands to pilot the country’s anti-terrorism war especially against Boko Haram in the North-East, Buhari announced the appointment of four new service chiefs on Tuesday.
The new service chiefs are Major-General Leo Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru as Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo as Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao as Chief of Air Staff.
Many Nigerians have, however, doubted the competence of the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru.
A former Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Attahiru had been removed by the Nigerian Army High Command for failing to stop Boko Haram in 2017.
The then Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen Tukur Buratai, had given Attahiru 40 days to capture Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, dead or alive. Attahiru’s failure to live up to expectations saw him being removed without any posting.
But the President’s spokesman said his boss did a thorough job in coming up with the four newly appointed commanders.
He said, “The style of the president is to call for service records. He would scrutinise many and then he can make up his mind on who is best suited (for the job). Don’t forget that other people like the minister of defence and another retired general he would consult and those who know. And he has come up with choices that he thinks are best for Nigerians at this time.”
Adesina further noted that the appointment of the new service chiefs was not based on the federal character but was based on competence.
The presidential spokesman said, “There are certain appointments that are subject to federal character. For instance, the constitution says there must be a minister from each state of the country but there are certain appointments that are also not subject to a federal character and one is in the security.
“They (service chiefs) are not subject to federal character, it is about competence and ability to deliver. So, the president would appoint whoever he thinks would deliver and to the best level for the country.
“Appointments that are subject to federal character would be done accordingly and those that are subject to the prerogative of the president, he would do it according to his prerogative.”
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has urged Nigerians not to expect magic from the new service chiefs.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, in an audio statement issued on Tuesday in reaction to the development, said the executive arm of the Federal Government had finally listened to the demand of Nigerians.