Senate Confirms Appointment of Service Chiefs

On Thursday, the Nigerian Senate confirmed the appointment of Service Chiefs as nominated by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The confirmation came after the Senate Majority Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti), presented a motion that was considered and approved.

The confirmed Service Chiefs are Major General Taoreed Lagbaja as Chief of Army Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla as Chief of Naval Staff, Air Vice Marshal Hassan Abubakar, and Major General Christopher Musa as Chief of Defence Staff. These appointments were made by President Tinubu on June 19, and the Service Chiefs have already assumed their duties.

Although the screening and confirmation process was considered a formality, the Service Chiefs are expected to be officially sworn into their respective offices.

During the Senate’s plenary on Thursday, the usual rules were suspended to allow the entry of certain individuals into the chamber, including Abdullahi Gumel, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), the nominated service chiefs, and others.

Before the Senate dissolved into a closed session for a three-hour screening of the nominees, the service chiefs had the opportunity to highlight their career profiles and professional experiences.

Major General Musa, in his presentation, pledged the commitment of the armed forces to serve Nigerians in line with the dictates of the Constitution.

He said: “Under my watch, the Armed Forces shall continue to serve the Nigerian people dutifully and in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other extant provisions of the law for the federation.”

Also, Rear Admiral Ogalla noted that he would put in his best to upgrade the standard he met, assuring Nigerians that he was fully prepared for the job, adding that he will improve existing strategies and develop new ones to secure the nation’s maritime waters.

Ogalla said: “I wish to state that if given the opportunity to serve as the Chief of Naval Staff, I will put in my best to be able to accomplish the standard. I fully understand the challenges facing the Nigerian Navy.

“In line with our statutory roles, which is the defence of the nation’s territorial integrity of the maritime domain as well as the policing roles of protecting the nation’s resources and contribution to military aid to the civil power, I am fully prepared to carry out these roles.

“If given the chance, my command philosophy as the Chief of Naval Staff, I will be committed to leading with integrity, courage and relentless pursuit of excellence. I believe in the power of teamwork, discipline and human capacity development.”

According to Ogalla, he would collaborate with other services to secure the nation’s waterways, adding that he would initiate continuous monitoring and surveillance to achieve maximum results.

“My goal is to ensure that every Nigerian Navy personnel and civilian on staff is equipped, trained and ready to execute our mission effectively. I expect all personnel to hold these high standards of professionalism, ethics and respect for human rights. Together, if given the chance, we will work to fulfill our mission, achieve our vision and uphold the honour and tradition of the Nigerian Navy. I am not unmindful of the numerous challenges facing the Nigerian Navy. It is evident that Nigeria’s economy and the well-being of its people is heavily dependent on the maritime environment.

“Nigerian maritime environment is full of resources. It is also a vital sea lane of communication. It is the responsibility of the Nigerian Navy because of our secondary responsibility in policing duties that this vital lane is kept peaceful and secured. I am also fully aware of the tendency and challenges which are being posed by threats to this maritime environment. I am fully prepared to tackle the prevailing issue of oil theft which has been a burden that has been militating against our resources.

“To this end, I am going to build on the strategies that have been put in place in the past. I am going to improve on these strategies. For instance, our choke point operations regime and other operations which we have started and developed new strategies and build on it.

“I am also going to improve on regional cooperation and inter-agency cooperation. I thank God that we are in a regime whereby the mandate is to ensure that all the services collaborate. I am ready and prepared to do just that. Let me also state that we will enhance monitoring and surveillance to ensure that our operations are cost-effective. I believe in achieving maximum with little resources that are available.”

Also speaking, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Abubakar said he would mobilise the nation’s air power to ensure peace and security of the country, in line with the aspiration of the president.

He said: “On assumption of office as the acting Chief of Air Staff, on the 19th of June 2023, I reiterated my commitment to reinvigorating our fight against terrorism, insurgency and other security threats facing our dear nation.

“I also noted two key attributes of cooperation and joint-ness which have been instrumental to the successes so far recorded in our counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism efforts which we intend to hold in mind Mr President’s directive as outlined during the maiden National Security Council meeting.

“We will also adopt additional air power measures and approaches that will continue to diminish our security challenges and enhance the disposition of our various theatres of operations. This is important in view of the enormous expectations of Nigerians on us and to ensure an expeditious and accelerated actualisation of the security of lives and property of Nigerians.

“Before making a pronouncement on my command philosophy that would guide our journey going forward, let me lay the premise on which this philosophy would be predicated to enable us to have a clear understanding of the Service’s future direction and be on the same page.”

On his part, the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Lagbaja noted that the country in the past two decades, has gone through challenging security situations that have impacted adversely on the nation’s economic, social, and political lives.

According to him, what used to occur as occasional or episodic crisis have now become enduring, making governance and the rule of law more challenging for the government of the day.

Lagbaja said: “The feat of our founding fathers is that of a strong prosperous, globally competitive and influential nation. However, today’s painful reality is that insecurity has distorted our developmental plan and aspiration as Nigerians.

“The volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous nature of our contemporary security environment makes leadership challenging and therefore demands new skills that are proactive, adaptive and inclusive and I make bold to say that is what I intend to bring on board as Chief of Army Staff.

“I know that the Nigerian Army that I have been nominated to lead is a crucial component of our military instrument of national power. It is the largest, most complex, most geographically spread and often, most sought after when security situations go sour. For the Nigerian Army to grapple with the demands of the contemporary security environment, must consistently transform to be a step ahead of its time.”

Lagbaja added: “I upon my nomination as the Chief of Army Staff conceptualized my philosophy of command as: ‘To transform the Nigerian Army into a force that is well trained, equipped and highly motivated towards discharging our constitutional responsibility.

“To achieve this, I have identified some pillars upon which my philosophy will rest. That includes leadership, operational effectiveness, and sound administration.

“I was conscious of the pronouncement and the directives of Mr. President on the need for synergy, and cooperating in harmony with sister services and other security agencies including the larger Nigerian society and I have identified the need to work in a joint environment with my colleagues nominated as Service Chiefs and other security agencies.

“I see my nomination as a privileged opportunity to bring about more positive changes to the Nigerian Army to enable it to function optimally in line with the dictates of our constitution.

“If confirmed by this Distinguished Senate and given the uncommon mandate to lead the Nigerian Army during this period, I shall do my best to justify the confidence reposed in me by His Excellency and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and the larger Nigerian society.”