Appointment of Ali-Keffi as acting Chief of Army Staff false
Following the death of Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru on Friday in a plane crash in Kaduna, there has been speculations on the likely successor.
Some online news media reported yesterday that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Danjuma Ali-Keffi, had been appointed as the acting COAS, a news which was later found to be false.
The President who is the commander in Chief of the Armed Forces has the right to appoint the chief of army staff. Sources stated that the utmost consideration in the appointment of an army chief is operational and intelligence experience, especially when the nation is in a state of war.
“The president also needs to appoint somebody within the range of the most senior officers in order to command the respect of other service chiefs and commanders.
A top military officer said some factors would be considered for the appointment of service chiefs beyond seniority.
“You know the President has the discretion to appoint anyone he so wishes with advice or probably a nomination from the Minister of Defence.”
“Apart from seniority in service, officers so considered must have been grounded in military operations and intelligence,” the officer said.
According to This day, many names have come up as likely successors, including the Chief of Policy and Plans (COPP), Major General Bernard Ahanotu, a member of Course 35; Major General J. Sarham, a former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division and a former Commandant, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), a member of Course 36 but originally Course 35 and Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Minna, Major General A.S. Maikobi, a member of Course 36.
It was gathered that the trio are experienced senior officers in the army.
Ahanotu, who is from Anambra State, was the Chief of Staff, 21 Armoured Brigade, Maiduguri, who led the operation that arrested Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf, and handed him over to the police before he was killed.
Ahanotu was also Commander, 3rd Armoured Brigade, Jos, that led the operation that rescued kidnapped Dapchi girls. He was also a GOC.
Some of the other senior and experienced military officers, it was learnt, include: Major General A.M. Aliyu of Regular Course 36 from Gombe State who is another operation officer. He is the Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army and former Director Foreign Liaison at the Defence Agency.
He was responsible for processing actionable intelligence for military operations.
Another officer is Major General Ibrahim Manu Yusuf of Regular Course 37 from Yobe State.
He is Chief of Operation and former Force Commander Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF). He was also a General Officer Commanding 7 Division with rich experience in the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-east and have also taught in many military colleges, including National Defence College (NDC), Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), and Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre (NAPKC), Jaji.
Major General Faruk Yahaya of Regular Course 37 is from Zamfara State. He is the current Theatre Commander Operation in the North-east and former General Officer Commanding Officer of the 1 Division of the Nigerian Army.
It was further gathered that there are also other senior operational officers worthy of considerations.
The snag, however, for Maikobi and Sarham are from Kano State, where the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, hails from.
“Ahanotu is Course 35, Sarham and Maikobi are Course 36. If for instance you give it to someone in Course 37, you will disfigure the system because most people, who are not even due for retirement will have to go” a security analyst, who spoke anonymously, said.
On the appointment of an acting COAS he said “Ali-Keffi is of 38 regular course. If you give him, you are sending many generals home who are not due to go.
“The consequence of this if it is true, is that it will force these brilliant officers to retire at a period we need more hands in the prosecution of diverse operations across the country. I don’t think we need such mass retirement now,” the security expert added.