Service chiefs to remain till 2014

1

…As Jonathan retains defence portfolio

From CHUKS AKUNNA, Abuja

President Goodluck Jonathan may not drop any of the service chiefs before 2014, Daily Sun has learnt. President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, intends to continue running the Ministry of Defence until August.

While some sources couldn’t explain why Jonathan was interested in keeping the service chiefs till 2014, or his interest in direct running of the Defence Ministry, others argued it was a strategy to keep the military “intact” ahead of 2015 general elections.

President Jonathan had on February 4, 2013, sworn in Prof Chinedu Nebo and Mr. Kabiru Tanimu Turaki as ministers. Nebo took over the Power Ministry, a position formerly held by his kinsman, Prof. Barth Nnaji.

Turaki was, however, assigned the Special Duties portfolio, surprising many who had expected him to emerge Defence Minister in place of his kinsman, Dr. Haliru Bello, who was sacked in June 2012. Some politicians had even predicted a minor cabinet shake-up at the swearing-in to throw up a defence minister.

None happened. Since Bello’s removal 10 months ago, Nigeria has been operating without a substantive Minister of Defence. Erelu Olusola Obada is the Minister of State.

Apart from being the administrative head of the Armed Forces, the Minister of Defence supervises the running of such agencies as Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), Directorate of Military Pensions, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and Nigerian Defence Intelligence Agency. Jonathan had last October appointed Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

Until the appointment, Ibrahim was the Chief of Naval Staff. He succeeded Air Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin.

He had also appointed Air Vice Marshal Alex Sabunduh Badeh as Chief of Air Staff, but retained General Azubuike Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff.

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