Attahiru’s successor: Ethnic, geo-political factors may delay naming of new Chief of Army Staff •5 Generals in contention for top military job




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ABUJA – Barely 72 hours after death of Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru in a crash, there is a political dilemma over and likely ethnic origin of person that could be for Nigerian Army’s top job.
This is even as five top Generals are in consideration for top job in Nigerian Army.

PRNigeria gathered from competent and knowledgeable sources the ongoing appointment that government seems to be in a fix.

This is because some touted people the list happened to come from the same or tribes of current occupants of other military and Chiefs, making it difficult for the government to make an urgent decision Attahiru’s successor.

Attahiru and 10 other military officers died in a crash on Friday, during an visit to Kaduna State.

Some retired senior officers who are politicians are also putting pressure on the presidency to consider seniority, competence, merit and war experience and jettison ethnic and sectional sentiments in picking the next COAS.

A retired military officer with vast intelligence background, told PRNigeria that socio-political factor may likely play a role in the choice of the candidate for the Army Chief job.

He however, said Mr. President wields the discretion to pick anybody of choice.

“Those being touted as late Attahiru’s successors are eminently qualified on account of their vast qualifications, discipline, instructional appointments, service command, operational experiences, and above all managerial capabilities. They are suitable, but political consideration of regions, and tribes may likely be some of the determinant factors.

“For instance, one of the latest names being pencilled down is Major General Jamil Sharham, originally of Regular Course 35 but running RC 36 seniority. He was the Sector Commander, Operation Restore Hope in the Niger Delta, and Brigade Commander at Baga in the . Before he was Commandant National Defence Academy (NDA), he was Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Infantry and GOC 6 Division. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at NIPSS,” the retired military officer said.

Investigation by PRNigeria revealed that the major dilemma in the choice of Sharham is the fact that he is from , where the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, hails from.

A similar dilemma on tribe may play out since the present Chief of Policy and Plan (COPP), Major General Ben Ahonatu is an Igbo, like the current Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor, though they are from different but neighbouring of Anambra in -East and Delta in -South respectively.

General Ahanotu of Regular Course 35 and very fluent in Hausa. He was the Military Commander that captured the founder of Haram, late Mohammed Yusuf and followers, at their hideout in Maiduguri in 2009 before handing them over to the Police.

Similarly, the Army’s Chief of Operation, Major General Ibrahim Manu Yusuf is from Yobe, the state of the current acting Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba.

Gen Yusuf of Regular Course 37 was former Force Commander, Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF) and General Officer Commanding 7 Division. He also taught at Nigerian Defence (NDC), Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), and the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre (NAPKC), Jaji.

Last Saturday, unconfirmed reports claimed that Major General Danjuma Ali-Keffi, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division Nigerian Army, Kaduna, was as COAS.

However, PRNigeria gathered that General Ali-Keffi was not among the more than 30 most senior military officers in the Nigerian Army.

Another officer being touted is Major General AM Aliyu of Regular Course 36 from Gombe State. He is the Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army and former Director, Foreign Liaison, at the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). He was responsible for processing actionable intelligence for military operations in recent years.

Another officer being mentioned is Major General Faruk Yahaya of Regular Course 37 from Zamfara State. He is the current Theatre Commander Operation Hadin Kai in the and former General Officer Commanding of 1 Division.

PRNigeria gathered that there are other senior operational officers worthy of considerations because of their rich experience in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.