Meet Nigeria’s New Service Chiefs

President Muhammadu Buhari today appointed new Service Chiefs, bringing to an end the long clamour by several groups and individuals for the replacement of the previous occupants of the positions who were appointed by the President in 2015.

A statement from the Presidency this afternoon gave the names of the new service chiefs as Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, Chief of Air Staff.

The statement said the new appointments followed President Buhari’s acceptance of the resignations and immediate retirement from service of the erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

The President urged the new service chiefs to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities.

Major-General Irabor

The new Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky LEO Irabor, has served as Chief of Defence Training and Operations, and Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command of the Nigerian Army, TRADOC, Minna. He was also Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole and as Force Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) combating Boko Haram. The MNJTF, with headquarters in N’Djamena, includes troops from Benin and the four nations bordering Lake Chad – Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Born on October 5, 1965, Major-General Irabor, who hails from Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State was enlisted into the Nigeria Army with Number 8370 as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 34.

Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru, the new Chief of Army Staff, was also Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole and was redeployed to Nigerian Army HQ as Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans. He was until his new appointment the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Nigeria Army, Enugu.

Major-General Attahiru

Born on 10th August 1966, he hails from Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State and is a member of the Regular Course 35 of the Nigerian Defence Academy with the enlistment Number 8406. Major-General Attahiru describes himself on his social media page as a Motivational Speaker.

The new Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, is currently the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command. Born on 14th September 1965 in Enugu, he hails from Oshogbo in Osun State. He enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force on 19th January 1984 as a member of 35 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy and was commissioned as Pilot Officer on 20th December 1986.

He started his Primary Flying Training at 301 Flying Training School (FTS) Kaduna from 1987–1989, did the Basic Flying Training at 303 FTS Kano from 1990 – 92 and Tactical Fighter Training at 99 Air Combat Training Group (99 ACTG) Kainji from 1993 – 99. Thereafter, he went for Instructor Pilot Course at 301 FTS Kaduna from 2004 – 2005. Air Vice-Marshal Amao has attended several military courses which include: Junior Division Course at Armed Forces Command Staff College (AFCSC) Jaji from June to December 1986, Senior Division Course at Defence Services Staff College India from 2002–2003, Defence Course at National Defence University China from 2012 to 2013, Aircraft Accident Investigation in Civil Airline at NCAT Zaria and Aircraft Accident Investigation Course at Karachi, Pakistan. He attended Federal College of Freshwater and Fisheries Technology (FCFFT) New Bussa, University of Madras, India , Kaduna Polytechnic and National Defence University, China.

He has served in Nigerian High Commission, London as Deputy Defence Adviser and Acting Defence Adviser and in Defence Headquarters as Assistant Director of Operations; Air Component Commander of Operation ZAMAN LAFIYA/LAFIYA DOLE (North East Operations), doubled as Acting Deputy Theatre Commander (Air Ops) for Operation LAFIYA DOLE; Director of Policy (DOPOL) at HQ NAF, and Director of Operations at HQ NAF, Abuja and Director of Training (DOT) at HQ NAF, Abuja.

Air Vice-Marshal Amao

The new Chief of Air Staff is a fighter pilot and has participated in various operations such as Draw Down of AFISMA operation in Mali; Operations ZAMAN LAFIYA and LAFIYA DOLE. His decorations include: Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Distinguished Service Star (DSS), General Service Medal (GSM), River Benue Star (RBS), Passed Staff College (psc) and Fellow National Defence University (FNDU) China. He has an MSc in Defence and Strategic Studies, Master of Military Science and Strategy (MMSc) and Advance Diploma in Defence and Strategy Studies  Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy;  National Diploma in Freshwater and Fisheries Technology and Nigerian Defence Academy Certificate of Education.

The new Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A.Z. Gambo, was formerly the Director of Search and Rescue, Defence Headquarters, and Chief Staff Officer Naval Training Command and was until his new appointment the Director of Procurement at the Defence Space Administration.

Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo was born on 22nd April 1966 and hails from Nasarawa Local Government Area of Kano State. He enlisted into the Nigeria Navy on 24th September 1984 as a member of Regular Course 36 and was commissioned Sub-Lieutenant on 24th September 1988. He is an Underwater Warfare specialist with a sub-specialisation in Intelligence.

Rear Admiral Gambo

He has attended several military courses which include; Sub-Technical course and Officers Long course both at NNS QUORRA. He also attended Junior Division 48/99 and Senior Course 26 both at AFCSC Jaji. Other courses attended include the National Defence Course at the South African National Defence College. Rear Admiral Gambo holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Transport Management and a Master‘s degree in Transport Management (Logistics option) both from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology.

Rear Admiral Gambo is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Fellow of the Certified Institute of Shipping, Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Administration of Nigeria as well as Fellow of the National Defence College, South Africa. His decorations include the Grand Service Star, Distinguished Service Star, Passed Staff Course, among  others.


Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist writes on, and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.

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