“We shall save the nation from terror and all forms of criminality that threaten the peace and stability of our country and our subregion,” said President Bola Tinubu in his inaugural speech.
Tinubu took a significant step towards inclusivity by assembling a diverse cabinet of security chiefs. This new team represents all six geopolitical zones, and encompasses various religious backgrounds.
The newly appointed security chiefs, including Gen. Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja as 23rd Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army and Air Vice Marshal Hassan Bala H B Abubakar as 21st Chief of Air Staff, bring a wealth of experience and expertise to their respective positions.
Rear Adm Emmanuel A. Ogalla takes the helm as the 24th Chief Of Naval Staff, while Major General Chris Musa is the 18th Chief of Defence Staff. These appointments reflect the President’s focus on credibility and selecting the right individuals for the job.
Nuhu Ribadu, the new National Security Adviser (NSA), stands out as the first without a military background since 1999 when the country returned to civilian rule.
Mohammed Shuwa, (NSA, 1966-1975), the first Nigerian NSA, served as a Major General in the Nigerian Army before his appointment; Aliyu Mohammed (1975-1979) held the rank of Major General in the Nigerian Army and served as the Chief of Army Staff; Sambo Dasuki (2010-2015) held the rank of Colonel in the Nigerian Army and managing director of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company; and Babagana Monguno (2015-2023) held the rank of Major General in the Nigerian Army, served as the Commander of the Brigade of Guards and also worked as a research fellow at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.
With a background in law and extensive experience in the Nigerian Police Force, Ribadu is expected to add a unique perspective to the security team.
Tinubu also appointed Adebisi Onasanya as Brigade of Guards Commander; Lt. Col. Moshood Abiodun Yusuf 7 Guards Battalion, Asokoro, Abuja; Lt. Col. Auwalu Baba Inuwa 177, Guards Battalion, Keffi, Nasarawa State; Lt. Col. Mohammed J. Abdulkarim 102 Guards Battalion, Suleja, Niger; and Lt. Col. Olumide A. Akingbesote 176 Guards Battalion, Gwagwalada, Abuja.
While some Nigerians welcomed these appointments, some others have expressed concerns about regional representation. However, the inclusion of younger leaders and the announcement of military detachments in the Presidential Villa indicate Tinubu’s deliberate efforts to promote youth and gender inclusivity in his administration.
“Yesterday’s appointments of military chiefs shall be the least disruptive to the hierarchy in 20 years,” a Twitter user, with the handle @beegeaglesblog, tweeted. “All three service chiefs are coursemates of the 39th Regular Course who came to the military in 1987 and were commissioned in 1992.
“I have no recollection of any time whatsoever since 1960 during which all three service chiefs were coursemates. Reckoning from their commencement of military service as boy soldiers, the new CNS and CAS dressed up in military uniforms for the first time in 1982 when they entered the Nigerian Military School.
“This is an absolute FIRST. Check your records, Nigerians. Your moment in the sun is here, RC 39. Congratulations all. Practically, RC 39 coursemates of the service chiefs can still validly serve as branch chiefs at DHQ/AHQ/NHQ/AFHQ, corps commanders, at TRADOC (for the army) and serve as commandants of triservice establishments such as the NDC, AFCSC.”
Tanko Jolly, @TankoJolly, tweeted: “Oga Beegs, you don’t want to imagine how elated we were when the news broke last night that two of our mates rose to be service chiefs in our lifetime! There’s an old man somewhere in Zuru who will be so proud today – no ask me who o.”
A public commentator who spoke on condition of anonymity is of the opinion that the competence of the appointees, not where they come from, should be the most important criterion.
“My friend, this is why our progress will be at a snail’s speed in Nigeria. Nobody is asking about the competencies of the nominees but where they come from. Soon, an outpatient of a psychiatric hospital will be nominated for a very sensitive national position because he/she is from a particular geographical location,” he said. “God will have to come down to accelerate our progress.”
A pundit’s reply to a concerned Nigerian asking for the state of origin of the national nominees into the armed forces and the police read: “He – President Tinubu – seems to know the issues pretty well. Take a closer look at the appointments in the Brigade of Guards and the military detachments in the Villa and you’ll know he’s not sleeping. Appointments to military detachments (Majors, Captains and Lieutenants – pretty junior officers) have never been announced before, as far as I know. I read it as a very interesting message; Remember the commitment that women and youth shall feature prominently in his administration.”