Nigeria’s New Military Chiefs: What Are They Bringing To The Table?

When the Buhari government came to power in 2015, one of the platforms it rode on was to bring insecurity to an end. Many Nigerians believed that as a former military chief, President Muhammadu Buhari will immediately bring the insecurity and killings being perpetrated by terrorists and bandits as well as the rising spate of kidnappings and robberies to a stop.

However, eight years later, after appointing several experts and professionals from the military and policing sectors, Nigeria has not seen the end of insecurity. In fact, it has become worse, even though the government claimed they did well. If anything, that regime was one which did not seem to care about monitoring and showing the door to its appointees who failed to perform or appropriately sanctioning them. Some were even given higher appointments. Such appointees were not even changed; neither did they resign when there were clear cases of their failure to perform. They just stayed on and marked time with their principal. All the promises about dealing with terrorists, recovering the abducted Dapchi and Chibok girls, including Leah Sharibu, went unfulfilled. Indeed, the last eight years are better forgotten when it comes to fulfillment of assurances given on sorting out the country’s security problem. If anything, they became worse and thousands of innocent lives were lost, with the spread of banditry, kidnapping and terrorism to hitherto free areas.

When news came on Monday that Nigeria’s new President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has sacked all Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, Advisers, and Comptroller-General of Customs from Service with immediate effect, it was not a surprise. I am sure Nigerians had been wondering how long the new government would let them stay, in clear face of failure to achieve the aims they were appointed for.

Chief of Defence Staff Lucky Irabor, Chief of Army Staff Farouk Yahaya, Chief of Naval Staff Awwal Gambo, Chief of Air Staff Isiaka Amao and Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba were all told to go.

The new Service Chiefs appointed by President Tinubu are Major General Christopher Musa as Chief of Defence Staff; Major General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral E. A Ogalla, Chief of Naval Staff; Air Vice Marshal Hassan Bala Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff; DIG Kayode Egbetokun, Acting Inspector-General of Police; Major General E.P.A. Undiandeye, Chief of Defence Intelligence; and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who emerged as National Security Adviser.

Who are these new Service Chiefs and what are they bringing to the table? Will it be a case of ‘same old, same old’, with blame game the order of the day to excuse failures?

The new Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Christopher Gwabin Musa hails from Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, North West Nigeria. He was born on 25 December 1967 in Sokoto State.

He attended primary schools and vocational training centre in Sokoto from 1974 to 1981 before enrolling into the Federal Government College Sokoto and later the College of Advanced Studies, Zaria.

He has a BSc from Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, and MSc in Military Science from the International College of Defence Studies at the National Defence University Changing – Beijing China, along with other qualifications. He went to NDA as a member of the 38th Regular Course 21 in September 1991. General CG Musa went through Young Officers Course in Infantry in 1993, Regimental Signal Officers Course, 1998 and Junior Course at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji in 2000.

He has held several positions, some of the latest being Commandant Depot Nigerian Army, Commander 82 Division Task Force Brigade OPERATION LAST HOLD in the North East in 2018 and Commander Sector 3 OP LAFIYA DOLE – 2019. He was also Commander of Sect 3 Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Tchad Region in 2019 and Theatre Commander Joint Task Force (NE) Op HADIN KAI from 2021 to early 2023.

The new Chief of Army Staff, Major General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, was born in Ilobu, Irepodun Local Government Area, Osun State on 28 February 1968 and was educated at Local Authority Teachers College Demonstration School Osogbo, St. Charles Grammar School, Osogbo and The Polytechnic, Ibadan for his Advanced Level. He has BSc Geography of Nigerian Defence Academy and MSc Strategic Studies of the US Army War College.

He was admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy on 12 September 1987 as a member of 39th Regular Course and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant on 19 September 1992 into the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps.

He has participated in several operations, including Operation HARMONY IV in Bakassi Peninsula, United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), Operation Zaki, Operation Lafiya Dole and Operation Forest Sanity.

The new Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Hassan Bala Abubakar, was born on 11 September 1970 and hails from Shanono Local Government Area of Kano State. He enlisted into the NAF as a member of NDA RC 39 and commissioned Pilot Offer on 19 September 92.

Abubakar has BSc from NDA and Master’s Degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from ABU, Zaria. He has held the position of Officer Commanding Admin Services Flight/ Group Public Relations Officer, 97 Special Operations Group NAF Port Harcourt.

He was Officer Commanding Yellow Squadron – Air Force Military School Jos and Admin Officer Primary Flying Training Wing – 301 FTS NAF Kaduna, as well as SO1 Admin 301 FTS NAF Kaduna. He was also Operations Officer, 88 Military Airlift Group, Ikeja, Lagos; Commanding Officer, 21 Wing 88, Military Airlift Group Lagos; Group Safety Officer 88 Military Airlift Group Ikeja, Lagos; Fleet operation officer, 011, Presidential Air Fleet; Commander 011 Presidential Air Fleet, Chief of Staff, Mobility Command; Director of Policy, HQ NAF and Director of Operations, HQ NAF; Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command and the Chief of Standards and Operations, HQ NAF.

The new Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla was born on December 20, 1968 in Enugu Ezike, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.

He obtained the West African School Certificate from the Nigerian Military School Zaria in June, 1987 where he graduated as the ‘Best Boy’ in Sciences. He is a member of the 39 RC NDA, graduated with a BSc in Mathematics, was awarded Sword of Honour as the best naval cadet in his course and was commissioned 2nd Lt on September 16, 1992 and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral on September 16, 2021.

He completed the STC NNS QUORRA, Basic Hydrography National Hydrographic School India, Junior and Senior Staff Courses AFCSC Jaji and was a participant of NDC Course 22.

As part of the Course, he took part in the MSc Strategic Studies programme, University of Ibadan from 2014 to 2015 and served on board many ships including NNS AMBE, ARADU, LANA, EKUN, AGU, QUORRA, BEECROFT, DELTA and PATHFINDER.

While on board NNS EKUN, he took part in the ECOMOG Operations in Liberia in 1996. Also as the Base operations officer in NNS PATHFINDER, he was responsible for coordinating anti illegal bunkering operations as well the entire policing duties of the base.

DIG Kayode Egbetokun, Acting Inspector-General of Police was born on September 4, 1964 in Ogun State and is a graduate of Mathematics from the University of Lagos. Egbetokun lectured Mathematics briefly at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, before his enlistment into the police.

His other academic qualifications include MSc Engineering Analysis, also from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Post-Graduate Diploma in Petroleum Economics from Delta State University, Abraka, and an MBA from Lagos State University.

Egbetokun enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force on March 3, 1990, as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police. In 1999, he was appointed Chief Security Officer to then Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu. He has served as the Commander, Rapid Response Squad, Lagos; Squadron Commander, Mopol 5, Benin City; Officer-in-Charge, Anti-Fraud Unit, FCT Command, Abuja; Chief Superintendent of Police, Administration, Lagos State Command Head Quarters, Ikeja; Area Commander, Osogbo, Osun State Command; and Area Commander, Gusau, Zamfara State Command, among others.


He was promoted Commissioner of Police on 29 September, 2020 and was deployed to Kwara State; Assistant Inspector General of Police in September 2022, and deployed to Zone 7 (Abuja) and Deputy Inspector General of Police on March 29, 2023 and deployed to the FCID.

National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu was born in Yola, Adamawa State, on 21 November, 1960. He attended Aliyu Mustapha Primary School, Yola from 1966 to 1973 and Yelwa Government Secondary School, Yola from 1973-1977. Between 1978 and 1980, Mr Ribadu was at the College of Preliminary Studies, CPS, Yola, for his A-level studies.

In 1980, he gained admission to study law at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, graduating in 1983. He graduated from the Nigerian Law School and was called to the bar in 1984. He joined the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) immediately after his national youth service. Ribadu holds an LLM degree with emphasis on the jurisprudence of corruption in Nigeria from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. In 2008, he was at the Harvard Business School where he did a programme on the strategic management of law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Ribadu is the pioneer Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

New Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major General Emmanuel Akomaye Parker Undiandeye hails from Bedia in Obudu Local Government Area of Cross River State.

He was, until his appointment, the Commandant of the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji, Kaduna State. Undiandeye was a member of the Troop Contributing Countries Working Group for developing the second edition of the United Nations Infantry Battalion Manual (UNIBAM) published in 2020 by the UN Office of military affairs. He is of the Intelligence Corps of the Nigerian Army.

The President also approved the appointment of Mr. Adeniyi Bashir Adewale as the Ag. Comptroller-General of Customs.

The newly appointed Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police and the Comptroller General of Customs are to act in their positions, pending their confirmation by the Senate in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The profiles of the new Service Chiefs are very rich and intimidating. But as we have seen, especially from the previous dispensation, Nigeria’s security problems need more than intimidating CVs or profiles. The issue needs commitment, dedication and the will to do the best for the country, with the support of those who appointed the Service Chiefs. Can we expect the best from these men? Are they here just to fill the positions? Or can we depend on them to provide the required leadership that will send those responsible for our security problems to where they belong?

Time will tell.


One Comment on “Nigeria’s New Military Chiefs: What Are They Bringing To The Table?”

  1. Time will tell indeed

    Thanks to Epa for always curating for us history and its significant events.

    Reading and understanding the profile of these Service Chiefs is as complex as understanding the security architecture, structure, and situation of Nigeria.

    It is hoped that results of peace and security would emerge from these new appointments thereby making it easy to understand the need for different service chiefs who have different titles and diverse profiles.

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