President Muhammadu Buhari has in an unprecedented move, extended the tenure of Nigeria’s military chiefs, following the uptick in bombings and attacks in the North-east by Boko Haram terrorists and the uncertainty in the Niger Delta.
The service chiefs comprise the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusufu Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar.
The move on Monday, Dec. 18, seen as rare in the military establishment, makes it the second time President Buhari would be extending the tenure of service chiefs, effectively giving them a third-term stint in office. Tenure extensions are rare in the history of the Armed Forces, and before now, had never exceeded an extra term.
The extension was confirmed in a statement by Tukur Gusau, a colonel and spokesperson to the Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali.
The extension was largely based on the efforts of the military chiefs in tackling Boko Haram in the North-east and addressing other security issues, Mr. Gusau said. The brief statement read:
“The President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, having carefully reviewed the on-going military operations across the nation and the efforts of the Chief of Defence staff and the Service chiefs in the counter insurgency operations in the North East coupled with the security situation of the Niger Delta region, has graciously approved the extension of tenure of service of General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai Chief of Army Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-EteIkwe Ibas, the Chief of Naval staff and Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar, the Chief of Air staff.
“This extension is pursuant of the powers conferred on the President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by section 218 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and section 09.06 of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions for Service for officers (2012) Revised.
“The Honourable Minister of Defence Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali therefore congratulates the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs for earning the confidence of the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Force of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria leading to their extension of service.”
The tenure extension is the second in a row for Olonisakin, Abubakar, and Ibas. In December 2016 and June this year, Buhari had extended the tenure of the three military chiefs, raising hopes among senior personnel in the Armed Forces that they would finally be retired in December 2017 and other officers promoted to replace them.
Based on age or years of service, Olonisakin, Ibas and Abubukar were due for retirement exactly a year ago while Buratai is not due for retirement till 2018.