Defence minister, army, navy chiefs in power tussle

THE SUN Newspaper- Molly Kilete

A cold war is brewing between the Minister of Defence Mr. Adetokunbo Kayode and the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, over the alleged non implementation of a ministerial directive to the COAS to ask all those due to go for retirement this year to proceed on their terminal leave with immediate effect.

Also at loggerheads with the minister, is the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ishaya Ikoh Ibrahim, over the same issue.

Daily Sun gathered that the minister had issued a letter two weeks ago to both the COAS, CNS and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petirin to submit the names of officers that were due to go for retirement this year and ask them to commence on their terminal leave.
While the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Oluseyi Olusegun, was said to be the only service chief that complied with the minister’s directives, the COAS and the CNS were said to have rebuffed the order which was reported to the minister.

Daily Sun gathered that the minister got wind of the matter after it was reported to him that Gen. Dambazau had directed the Military Secretary, Army, Major-General Abdulkadir, to write to the affected officer who had already been served with notices of retirement early this year of the decision of the army to present them at the next promotion board exercise for their promotion to the next rank.

The letter stated that it was only when the affected officers failed to scale through the promotion board that they would proceed on retirement which would be in December, instead of June. Daily Sun gathered that army authorities had earlier in the year written a letter of notification of retirement from service to officers that were due for retirement, asking them to apply for retirement.

A date was given to them given to them specifying when their letter of voluntary retirement would be ready. But the whole thing took a new dimension when the COAS, was said to have changed his mind on the matter and asked the military secretary to write another letter, informing them about the new development.

The cold war can best be described as the clash of the titans as neither the minister nor the COAS and the CNS is ready to surrender their arms. While the defence minister is insisting that the proper thing be done as far as the provision of retirement is contained in the Armed Forces Act is concerned, Dambazau, on the other hand, was said to be pulling his strings together to ensure that the officers remained in service until they fail to pass the promotion board which will sit any moment from now.

Reports said the COAS was playing religion and ethnicity by not wanting to carry out the minister’s order because most of the affected officers were from the north, while others said Gen. Dambazau’ was only trying to buy time for the affected officers, numbering over 400 to benefit from the largesse of the Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service(HTACOS), which he hoped would be signed before the end of December as because he did not want them to suffer after they retire.

Daily Sun gathered that some officers who were originally due to be presented before the board this year were not taking the stand of the army chief kindly as they had aligned forces to fight the matter to the end. They were said to have made a very strong case to the presidency to ensure that the right thing be done.

They said the army chief had no option but to obey the minister’s directive as failure to do so was tantamount to disobedience, which was not in the character of the military. They also said the refusal by Gen. Dambazau not to implement the minister’s directive would go a long way to affect the backlog of officers due for promotion this year as they might not be presented before the board and might be caught up with age on rank in the next promotion exercise.

As regards Navy, Daily Sun gathered that the CNS, might not want to comply with the directives as he did not want to lose some of his good hands in the navy. Sources said the retirement of officers in the navy who still had a lot to offer the service was gradually killing the navy and making it pay heavily to hire professionals from outside the navy to do its job.

But these excuses notwithstanding, some say the affected officers just had to go to pave way for young officers to grow as their continuous stay in service had resulted in stagnancy in the area of promotion in the navy. This they said could be proven in the previous promotion exercise where only a handful of officers were promoted to the rank of rear admiral in spite of their service records, while those who were properly qualified and meet all the set standards were not promoted all because those who were supposed to have retired refused to go.


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