Approximately 100 senior officers, including generals, brigadiers-general, air vice marshals, and admirals in the Nigerian Army, Air Force, and Nigerian Navy, may be compelled to retire as a result of the recent appointment of new service chiefs by President Bola Tinubu on Monday.
This development comes six months after the retirement of 24 major generals and 38 brigadier generals in December, who had collectively served the nation for 35 years.
According to a reliable source, the impending retirement of about 100 senior officers spread across the Army, Air Force, and Navy is based on the military’s tradition, which deems it inappropriate for a higher-ranking officer to serve under their juniors.
President Tinubu announced the immediate retirement of General Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Lieut Gen Farouk Yahaya, Chief of Army Staff; Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Marshal Oludayo Amao, Chief of Air Staff. They have been replaced by new military chiefs.
The newly appointed service chiefs are Maj Gen Christopher Musa as Chief of Defence Staff, Maj Gen Taoreed Lagbaja as Chief of Army Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla as Chief of Naval Staff, and Air Vice Marshal Hassan Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff.
In accordance with protocol, Maj Gen Musa will assume the rank of a four-star General, Lagbaja will be decorated with the three-star rank of Lieutenant General, Ogalla will hold the equivalent Vice Admiral rank, and Abubakar will hold the rank of Air Marshal. However, the official decoration of their new ranks by the President will occur after Senate confirmation.
The planned retirement of senior officers across the three services aligns with the longstanding military tradition that officers senior to the service chiefs should retire when a junior officer assumes the leadership role.
Multiple sources have indicated that the security chiefs are junior to some generals who are members of Course 37 and Course 38. Consequently, it is expected that many top-ranking officers, particularly those from Course 37 and Course 38, will likely retire from the military.
Although the exact number of senior officers who may retire from the Army, Air Force, and Navy is uncertain, a retired general in Abuja has suggested that the figure could potentially reach as high as 100.
He stated, ‘’Top officers that would leave the service may be up to 100 because it cuts across the three services. The retirement exercise would not affect RC 39 officers; they would simply go to the Defence Headquarters because the Chief of Defence Staff is RC 38.
“Certainly, RC 37 and 38 officers will leave the service. Though, some of them may be retained because the last time, COAS Yahaya, who was a member of RC 37 retained some of his mates. So, he is leaving with his coursemates now.’’
Corroborating the retired general, a serving military officer noted, ‘’All officers who are senior to the new service chiefs are supposed to go home; mostly senior officers who are members of Course 37, 38 and some of 39.
“Course 39 officers are to go too but some may be allowed to head the tri-services like the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Nigeria Defence College, and Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre “
He stated, “Yes, the CDS is a member of Course 38, but by military tradition, he is not expected to make any appointment from among his coursemates because the COAS, CNS, and CAS are members of Course 39.
It was gathered that those who may retire alongside the former service chiefs include the Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Maj Gen Ibrahim Yusuf and the Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral Murtala Bashir.
Others are the Chief of Policy and Plans, HQ NAF, AVM IG Lubo; the Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, and Air Vice Marshal Oluwarotimi Tuwase.