•Tasks them on oil theft, terrorism
…CDS, CNS shed tears at handover ceremony
From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE and UBONG UKPONG, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday decorated the newly appointed service chiefs, comprising the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba and Chief of Air Staff(CAS), Air Marshal Alex Badeh, charging them to bring to an end the incessant oil theft and terrorism.
The President’s charge came even as he paid tribute to men and women of the Armed Forces who paid the supreme price for the defence and unity of Nigeria and other parts of the world. Meanwhile, tears of joy flowed freely during the handover ceremony at the Naval Headquarters, Abuja The CDS, Ibrahim, until his appointment was the Chief of Naval Staff, Ezeoba was Chief of Administration at the Defence Headquarters while Badeh, who had accumulated over 6,000 flight hours, until his appointment, was Air Vice Marshall Commanding, in Kaduna.
The President noted that the officers including the reappointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika were appointed on account of their notable attributes of excellence, loyalty, dedication, courage and unwavering faith in the country.
He said he expected to see a synergy among security agencies, charged them to make fresh inputs into the new security architecture and combat terrorism in all its ramifications. President Jonathan reiterated that the security of lives and property was a sacred obligation which his administration would do everything possible to provide, adding: “We cannot allow threats to our national security to compromise our national transformation efforts”.
“These fine gentlemen are taking over the command of our armed forces at a time the nation is facing serious security challenges. “Given their inspiring antecedents of working in synergy with other security services, I am confident that they will bring fresh inputs into the new security architecture to combat the menace of terrorism in all its ramifications across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“May I further reiterate that the security of lives and property in all parts of the country is a sacred obligation which our administration will do everything within its power to provide. We cannot allow threats to our national security to compromise our national transformation efforts. But we would remain focus on repositioning Nigeria on sustained growth, stability and development.
We shall continue to prosecute the fight against terrorism with total commitment and effectively check the activities of all criminal elements in our dear land. “In this regards we would step up initiatives aimed at strengthening and repositioning our security agencies for greater efficiency in discharging their constitutional responsibilities.
In his tribute to departed soldiers, the President said: “We must put on records our gratitude to the gallant men and women of our armed services for their total commitments in the defence of our unity, preservation of our territorial integrity and entrenchment of stability and security in our nation. Ensuring peace and security not only in Nigeria but in other conflict zones.
“I assure you all of this administration’s commitment in providing the requisite support in ensuring optimal operational readiness of our armed forces. On the rising oil theft across the country, the president said: “The unacceptable rise of crude oil theft must be tackled frontally; even the direct adverse implication of the activities of crude oil theft on our national economy.
I expect the Naval Chief and other service chiefs to immediately go to work to urgently bring the issue of crude oil theft to an end”. The President also said that the nation owe a huge debt to the former CDS, Air Chief Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Umar Dikko, for serving their fatherland meritoriously “with steadfast patriotism, unwavering gallantry and consummate dedication.
They have both eloquently optimised the motor of the Nigerian Airforce, ‘Willing, Able and Ready’. “On behalf of a grateful nation, I wish them Almighty God’s abiding guidance and provision in thier future endeavours”.
While congratulating the new Service Chiefs on their appointments, President Jonathan said, “In my capacity as your Commander-in-Chief, I assure you that you have held your appointments on the basis of your commitment to professional excellence, diligence and faith in a strong, stable and prosperous Nigeria. As you bring these worthy attributes to bear in charge of your onerous duties, you can be assured of my full support at all times.
In his remarks, the CDS assured that they were determined and committed to dealing decisively with the security challenges facing the country, adding “We are poised to support you, Mr. President, in your quests to achieve a stable polity, deepen our democracy and enthrone the rule of law in our country”. Meanwhile, the CDS, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim and CNS, Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba, betrayed emotions as they shed tears of joy during the handover ceremony at the Naval Headquarters, Abuja.
The two naval chiefs, who worked closely together before their new appointments, might have had a premonition of the circumstances surrounding their appointments , which was not unconnected with the mandate to stop sea piracy and other crimes perpetrated on Nigeria’s territorial waters.
Ibrahim, in his maiden address had recalled with a deep sense of regret, how his successor and he came under fire over the crime wave on the nation’s waters, and how the problem impacted negatively on the nation’s economy. He said that the President who was disturbed by the situation and the embarrassment, sea robbery, piracy, oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering had brought to the country, was determined to tackle the problems headlong to bring it to a halt.
On his part, the new CNS, Ezeoba, said that he was mindful that his new assignment was coming with so much expectations, recalling how President Jonathan handed down the directive to him with so much emphasis that he must stop all acts of economic sabotage on the nation’s waters. In a related development, the former CDS, Air Chief Marshal Oluseye Petirin, in his handover speech said that democracy and civil governance was the best thing that had ever happened to the military, as they had enjoyed so much benefits since the return of civil rule in the country.
Stating that he knew his retirement date since year 2011, he attributed it to the beauty of civilian government, as against military government, insisting that no member of the Armed Forces today, would claim that they don’t know their retirement dates. as against the previous practices where they only hearing about it on radio.