NIGERIAN ARMY: ARE REGULAR COURSE 25 OFFICERS BEING GROOMED FOR THE ULTIMATE COMMAND APPOINTMENT?

An essential quality of focused leadership is the ability to make adequate preparations for succession and the continuation of great visions and programmes.

To that extent, it might well be the case that the incumbent Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Onyeabo Ihejirika who has provided strong leadership for the Army’s ongoing incorporation of core counterinsurgency and counterterrorism skills as added-on comptencies, appears to have without prejudice to his own good work,commenced the grooming of a pool of officers from which a future Chief of Army Staff is almost certain to emerge.

The earliest indicators to the effect that a grooming process of some sort commenced shortly after Lieutenant General Ihejirika’s emergence as Chief of Army Staff when, in a departure from the post-1999 norm, two Brigadiers General of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 25 (hereinafter referred to as ‘RC 25′) got appointed as General Officers Commanding(GOCs) of the 2 Mechanised Division and the 82 Division in October 2010.

It represented a break from the norm which since 1999, has seen only substantive Major Generals getting appointed to the command of army divisions as is the norm internationally. The officers were eventually elevated to the rank of Major General in December 2010 but the significance of their emergence was not in doubt.

Most of the RC 25 officers belong to that pool of first-rate talent and most of whom had already held command positions at the levels of battalions, regiments and brigades and boast extensive experience in combat and peacekeeping missions from Liberia to Sierra Leone, Somalia to the Balkans, the Bakassi Peninsula to the Niger Delta and in the North.

Some of these RC 25 officers have since then moved on to the command of divisions, military/security task forces which are the size of two or more brigades and various corps of the Nigerian Army.

Some of these officers, in no particular order, include but are not limited to

* Major General MD Abubakar – GOC 2 Mechanised Division

* Major General Ebi Awala, Commander, Nigerian Army Armoured Corps

* Major General Jack Nwaogbo, GOC 3 Armoured Division, immediate past Commander of the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps and pioneer Commander of the Joint Security Task Force – OP RESTORE ORDER

* Major General Kenneth Minimah aka “Jumping General” – GOC 81 Division. As a 50 year old Brigadier General, Minimah was still leading officer cadets to jump from airplanes as part of their training regimen.

* Major General Ugo Buzugbe – Military Secretary(Army), who attained the rank of Major General at the age of 48 (a very rare feat in the post-1997 Nigerian Army) and after a 32-year stint in the Army. A first-rate and personable officer, he is said to have topped his graduating class.

Elsewhere, Beegeagle’s Blog had earlier pointed out the great disparity in seniority between officers on the rank of Major General which represents the upward limit in an Army where the ONLY Lieutenant General is by Nigerian convention, the holder of the office of the Chief of Army Staff.

Stemming from the fact of having enlisted at a time when there were two intakes annually(at intervals of six months), there are Major Generals who have 33 years of service under their boots and there are others who have been in service for 36-37 years.

Indeed, the most senior Major Generals such as the Force Commander, United Nations Mission in South Sudan(UNMISS) Moses Obi (RC 18) enlisted in June 1975 during the Gowon regime and is a coursemate of the Chief of Army Staff while the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command(TRADOC) JA Okunbor, is a highly cerebral Sandhurst-trained (RC 19) officer who enlisted in January 1976 during the regime of General Murtala Muhammed.

Standing in between these most senior Major Generals(of RC 18 and RC 19) and the officers of RC 25 who enlisted in December 1978, there are many other senior Major Generals who include MD Isah (Commander of the Corps of Infantry) and the well-respected duo of Emeka Onwuamaegbu(Commandant, Nigerian Defence Academy), Joseph Shoboiki who until February 2012, was GOC 1 Mechanised Division and Sarkin-Yaki Bello, the Coordinator of Counterterrorism in the Office of the National Security Adviser who previously served with distinction as JTF Commander in the Niger Delta and GOC 82 Division. There is also the duo of Army Heaquarters branch chiefs Lawrence Ngubane, Chief of Training and Operations(Army) and Edet Bassey, Chief of Administration(Army)

However, it is believed that the majority of Major Generals in the Regular Course 19-24 intakes are approaching their run-out dates, the reason why the RC 25 intake most of whom have between three and five years left to their run-out dates appear to have that major factor tipped in their favour. At the time of writing this article, four of the GOCs of the Army’s five divisions and two Corps Commanders of teeth arms – Armour and Artillery are officers of the RC 25 intake.

Be that as it may, it must be pointed out that eligibility for appointment to the post of Chief of Army Staff has not always been limited to officers with Regular Combatant Commissions. Indeed, during the pre-1999 military regimes, a turnover of officers who enlisted into the Nigerian Army with Short Service Combatant Commissions (albeit later regularised by conversion) was recorded. These included Major General MC Alli (SSC 2), Major General Alwali Kazir (SSC 3) and Lieutenant General Ishaya Rizi Bamaiyi (SSC 4).

To that extent, the incumbent General Officer Commanding, 1 Mechanised Infantry Division in the person of the Ilorin-born blueblood, Major General Garba Ayodele Wahab, a Short Service Course 22 officer who is about a year junior to the aforementioned RC 25 officers is considered to be a strong contender for the post of Chief of Army Staff at some point in the future.

Born on the 27th of August 1958,the well-respected Wahab is a graduate of Political Science from University of Lagos and an alumnus of the Royal College of Defence Studies.He holds two postgraduate degrees in Defence Studies and International Relations from Kings College,London.

Copyright: Beegeagle’s Blog. All Rights Reserved.

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BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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13 Responses to NIGERIAN ARMY: ARE REGULAR COURSE 25 OFFICERS BEING GROOMED FOR THE ULTIMATE COMMAND APPOINTMENT?

  1. muyi1 says:

    We have talked about this subject before please bear with me:
    1) L.G. O.A. has proved his worth on the spur of the P.O.N he has fought an insurgency , as well created a new division, he deserves it and more importantly IT will allow some hardworking m.g to ATTAIN THE RANK OF L.G( There are currently @ least 6 of them that are well deserving this is not an ethnic thing ( joseph Shoboiki, Sarkin- Yaki Bello, M.D. Isah , Oshimole to name four of the six have been battle tested have risen through the ranks, and have proved themselves even in the eyes of a skeptical Nigerian public
    2) Raise the age / service to 59 /39 so that we do not lose the experience, intelligence ,and more importantly expertise.
    3) Since We already reforming the armed forces with the now physically located central commandfor the navy,
    let us do the same with the army : army corp1(northern command), army corp 2 ( western commmand) army corp 3 ( eastern command) army corp 4(south command) headed by 4 l.g.s
    4) Right now we cannot , should not get rid/ phase out such hard working experienced generals
    through no fault of their own were held back.
    thank you for your time
    jimmy hollyee

  2. doziex says:

    It makes a lot of sense jimmy, i.e 4 corps headed by LT.GEN.’s.

    Another idea would be to reintroduce the defunct national guard or reserve army,navy & air force.

    Rather than retire/ waste these experienced generals, they should be put in command of purposely understrength reserve divisions.

    These would be brought to full strength as needed. So, the size of a reserve division could be say 6000 troops. consisting of part-time soldiers aka citizen soldiers.
    They would train one weekend a month. But the core command of the unit would be made up of full-time soldiers.

    So, in a period like now, where the country is beset with multiple security challenges, these understrength reserve units would be brought to full strength and remain active units for the duration of the crises.

    • peccavi says:

      I like that idea of Reserve divisions.
      Raising the service age could lead to frustration amongst younger officers as it means it takes longer to get in post but by creating reserve divisions which are in essence skeleton HQ’s which only train periodically we formally hold onto the knowledge and experience. Great idea

  3. beegeagle says:

    ELSEWHERE,BEEGEAGLE WROTE(24-2-2012):

    http://beegeagle.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/new-goc-82-division-major-general-akinyemi-takes-charge/

    That said, it seems as if the NA structure as exists currently is getting somewhat clustered for officers on the rank of Major General. For the first time ever, we have experienced and deserving two-star generals holding one-star appointments.

    As of January 2012, it was the case that the Commanders of 44 Div Engineers, 3 Motorised Brigade and 14 Infantry Brigade were all freshly-promoted Major Generals. This is certain to amount to an aberration though, since they could be “marking time” pending the retirement of more senior Major Generals who are hitting their run-out dates. Indeed, there are Major Generals with 33 years of experience and there are others, such as the UNMISS Commander in South Sudan; Major General Moses Obi, who has been in service since 1975. Obi is indeed a coursemate of the incumbent Chief of Army Staff, Lt.General Ihejirika and the Sultan of Sokoto, Brig.Gen(rtd)Sa’ad Abubakar – all three of whom enlisted as RC 18 cadets in June 1975.

    One way around that situation could be to fasttrack the formation of the said new COIN-biased division, so that all six divisions could be grouped into TWO Field Army Corps of three divisions each, which would create two Field Army Corps with a Lt.General at the helm of each, with his Chief of Staff, Principal Staff Officers and Line Superintendents – all of whom would be expected to be two-star generals. Then, the retirement age for officers can then be reviewed upwards to 58 years, in the first instance.

    At the moment, the convention is for the ONLY three-star General in the Army to be the incumbent Chief of Army Staff. That should not be the case in a 100,000-man Army whereas some African armies with half as many troops have four serving four-star Generals and seven three-star Generals. Do not even ask which Army that is. By the way, how many Lt Generals do they have in nearby Rwanda – five, six or seven?

    Anyway, the arrangement which we have suggested above would see the Chief of Army Staff becoming a four-star General while the GOCs of Field Army Corps and GOCs of divisions would be three-star and two-star generals. The branch chiefs, subject to the merger of branches to allow for a maximum of three mega-branches(eg Training and Operations, Admin and Logistics etc) would be three-star generals.

    The Chief of Defence Staff, also a four-star general would be the most senior officer of the Nigerian Armed Forces and at DHQ level, he shall also be assited by three branch chiefs of mega-branches as itemised above, who shall all be three-star generals – one each from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

    That way, we shall have six Lt Generals in the Army – two serving as GOC Field Corps and four as branch chiefs at AHQ/DHQ.

    ALTERNATIVELY, we could retain the Army Structure as is and instead have six three-star generals at DHQ level manning six branches – Admin, Training and Operations, Standards and Evaluation, Communications, Defence Intelligence and Logistics. Each of these six branches would be further split up into directorates under two-star generals.

    This kind of arrangement sufficed in 1992-93 at DHQ level when three-star generals such as Jeremiah Useni, Garba Duba,Mohammed Haladu, Joshua Dogonyaro, Oladipo Diya, Aliyu Gusau, Chijioke Kaja and Babatunde Elegbede all held triservice appointments at DHQ, triservice training establishments or as NSA as was the case with Gusau.

    That way, the rate of attrition is drastically reduced while we create structures for the absorption of the skills of highly experienced generals.

  4. beegeagle says:

    ELSEWHERE, BEEGEAGLE WROTE(24-2-2012):

    Jimmy, barring the upheavals which saw the wholesale retirement of officers after the ascension to power of Abacha in 1993 and Obasanjo’s clearout of politicised officers in 1999, the Army has been characterised by systemic stability for nearly two decades now. This has allowed officers to rise through the ranks and accumulate years of service.

    For those officers who commenced their military careers from the level of boy service at the Boys’ Company (later Nigerian Military School), there are numerous one-star and two-star Generals across the services who have logged in four decades of uninterrupted military service(inclusive of Boy Service).

    That is why you have so many long-serving guys at the top these days – the era of endless chopping and changing which was attributable to political whims has long gone.

    One thing is certain. The days when you had Lt Colonels such as John Shagaya, Abdulkarim Adisa and John Inienger serving as brigade commanders or Majors such as Happy Bulus or Tanko Abdu serving as COs of battalions/regiments, as was the case in the mid-1980s, is long gone.

    Today, whereas you have officers who enlisted in 1975 still on the two-star rank in Nigeria, officers with so many years of service in the United States are already 4-star generals. Indeed, there is an American 4-star Admiral who enlisted in 1978. Officers who enlisted at that time in Nigeria are at best two-star generals while some are still one-star generals.

    One thing is clear to me though – the rate of attrition has to be reduced. Officers who started out with UNIFIL in Lebanon, then Chad, on to Liberia, the Balkans, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bakassi Peninsula and returned to Nigeria and plunged into the gunboat war in the Niger Delta are repositories of experience who should be held onto for a few years longer. People are staying younger for much longer these days – ever heard the saying “forty is the new thirty”. If you ask me,it is very strange to have a guy who is fit and does physical training all the time signing off at 55/56 years of age – ONLY in Nigeria. At the age of 56, a sprightly Norman Schwarzkopf was heading out for the Desert Storm.

    So let us restructure DHQ as discussed. With six slots for Lt Generals and equivalent presiding over triservice operations under the CDS, we would have created space for about 15-20 two-star generals to work directly under those Branch Chiefs at DHQ. That way, when the likes of the highly experienced Moses Obi return from commanding UN missions, they can earn their OVERDUE promotions and he can resume as a DHQ branch chief.

    As for the Rwandan example, where they are today is where we were in the 1970s when we had 35 year old Brigadiers. That situation arose as a result of the post-independence Nigerianisation of the officer corps. Those officers who were already in service as of 1960-65 received accelerated promotions so as to fill the gaps created by exiting British officers.

    Just as the British departure ended in December 1965, a coup followed in January 1966, a counter coup in July 1966 and a Civil War commenced in 1967. Dozens of officers were slain in both coups and with the withdrawal of officers of Eastern Nigerian origin (who at the time dominated the teeth arms of the Army and who were comparatively senior to other officers) to form the Biafran Army, relatively junior officers in the ranks of Captain and Major became the battalion and brigades commanders of what remained of the Nigerian Army.

    The necessity for another wave of accelerated promotions to fill in the gaps and to create slots as the Army ballooned in size from 10,500 men to 120,000 men in two-and-one-half years therefore arose. The new Army had 30 year old Colonels serving as GOCs.

    Those circumstances and the era of post-coup retirements have since become history and that is why we have so many long-serving and experienced guys as generals these days.

    Talking about long service, General Agwai was already Lt Colonel at the time when his Rwandan successor at the UNAMID perch, Lt.Gen Patrick Nyamvumba, came to the Nigerian Defence Academy as a cadet in 1987.

    C’est la vie.

  5. menatti says:

    Quite a few generals u mentioned arent RC25. Maj Gen’s Emeka Onwuamaegbu and Shoboiki quite senior. They are RC 21

  6. beegeagle says:

    @Menatti. You are all correct, sir but I was not suggesting that Generals Onwuamaegbu and Shoboiki are RC 25 officers. If you read the script again, you would realise that what I meant was that between RC 18/RC 19 officers such as Obi and Okunbor and the RC 25 officers, there exists an array of officers STANDING IN BETWEEN and that is where the likes of Generals Onwuamaegbu, Shoboiki, Ngubane et al come into the picture.

    General Onwuamagbu, a great trainer of men who is qualified in the full spectrum of infantry operations, signed up in December 1976 – four intakes ahead and two calendar years clear of the RC 25 intakes. Cadets used to get drafted in June and December of every year for 30months training programmes at that time. This practice continued until 1985 when the NDA commenced its 5-year training programme leading to the award of a degree and a Regular Combatant Commission. At that point, admissions into the institution became an annual affair(once every year, that is).

    You are welcome to the board, Oga Menatti. Competence or background not in doubt. I should be glad to know what you think is the best way that the NA and the Armed Forces as a whole can reduce the rate of attrition and keep seasoned officers in the loop for much longer. I STILL believe that for a minimum, they should clear up the congestion at the top which is solely attributable to the artificial stagnation of officers on the rank of Major General. That is why there are Major Generals who have been on the rank for one year while others have been at it for six years!

    Our best bet at this time is to create a minimum of FIVE mega-branches at DHQ level to be manned by three-star generals(Army 3: Navy 1: Airforce 1). That way, we can have five DHQ branch chiefs as follows:

    Chief of Training+Operations
    Chief of Administration
    Chief of Defence Intelligence
    Chief of Comms. and Engr Svcs
    Chief of Logistics

    The retirement age should be reviewed upwards to 58 or 59 years as well. At once, the pressure to ease out officers with a view to creating room for career advancement would have been removed by virtue of the fact that each of these five branch chiefs (3-star generals) would have between four and six Major Generals serving under them as Directors of various various divisions under the DHQ branches- for an average of 30 senior Major Generals who would have otherwise been pushed out of service because there are no slots for them at the level of their parent services.

    For instance, a Chief of Training and Operations would probably have below him Directors reponsible for

    – Joint Ops and Coordination
    – Peace Support Operations
    – Counterinsurgency+Counterterrorism
    – Research and Development
    – Joint Training + Standardization
    – Field Exercises and Simulation

    The Chief of Administration would similarly have the following divisional directors under his Branch

    – Finance
    – General Services (Medical, Legal, Education, Records, ICT)
    – Policy and Plans
    – Manning and Evaluation
    – Procurement
    – Staff Duties

    Perhaps we have established a pattern. If that had been the case, a RC 18 officer such as Major General Moses Obi can return from South Sudan and expect to be elevated to the rank of Lt.General and deployed to DHQ as say, CTOP. A RC 19 officer such as JA Okunbor would also have been elevated to the rank of Lt General and deployed as a DHQ Branch Chief.

    We need to keep our most seasoned hands for about three years longer but without causing stagnation among the ranks of their subordinates. The way to do that is to elevate the five most senior two-star generals to the three-star rank and thereby create the right conditions for a further 25-30 senior two-star generals to remain in service and in the knowledge that they still have a chance of gaining one final promotion to three-star generalship even without getting to become service chiefs.

    That is the meaning of MOTIVATION.

  7. menatti says:

    I agree with you beegeagle and I presume that is what will happen sometime soon. I have heard it through the grapevine that the HTACOS has been reviewed and accepted but wont go into effect for another 2-3 years soo who knows, maybe in 2015 we would have a lt more 3/4 star generals around but as it stands now, the Nigerian military is top heavy with nowhere to post/deploy generals.

  8. beegeagle says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Menatti. I hope that they can fast-track things a bit. We tend to get things bogged down with too much bureaucracy and file cartage in our country and the all-important nature of physical security makes it imperative that we always act proactively. At its most quiet moment, Nigeria is a volatile country. I assume that the FG know that as well.

    The FG do need to act MUCH faster. What is the 2015 idea all about? We need to retain the services of the likes of Generals Obi, Okunbor, Shoboiki, Onwuamaegbu, Sarkin-Yaki et al for a while longer. The country is better off having them in active service than on any reserve list. We only need to show some urgency much more often.

    By the way, I noticed that in the recent postings after we had reported on the fact that 3 Bde, 14 Bde and 44 Div Engrs were being commanded by two-star generals as of last January, we have a proactive Brigadier General II Abba now commanding 3 Brigade and waging a vigorous war against terrorists within his AOR.

    14 Infantry Bde also now have a Brigadier General at the helm.

  9. muyi1 says:

    Sorry my brothers for getting back late to you
    Thank you Mr Beeagle for the wisdom you given us REDNECKS
    The biggest poster boy for this reform IS INTELLIGENCE I know guys let me land. This i know a ” little” of In the past the post please correct me if i am wrong it was headed by a 2 star brig director of intelligence ( army) . This is not enough Nowadays we have naval intelligence, army intelligence , airforce intelligence and dss intelligence combine that now with the newly formed COIN DIVISION .
    you need a three-star or its equivalent in the navy/ airforce to combine all this intelligence and who is well respected among his peers in all three branches.
    Secondly the chief of logistics needs to wear “another hat ” that hat is called Technology if we are going to get serious about moving into the 21st century whereby we are manufacturing our own drones and we have data coming from our satellites every 24 hours( yes i have heard /read all the growing pains) We need to have a chief of technology as well as logistics someone who will know the value intimately of technology.
    thanks for your time
    jimmy hollyee

    • beegeagle says:

      Coincidentally and as currently constituted, the Training and Operations Branch and the Defence Intelligence Branch ae listed in the organogram as three-star portfolios which are supposed to be held by Lieutenant Generals or officers of equivalent rank. In reality, all occupants of those two portfolios(dating back to August 1993) have always been very senior Major Generals.

      The Chieftaincy of Defence Intelligence does coordinate and harmonise the work of the intelligence services of all three arms of the military. It is the ONLY one which has a statutorily-designated Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence who is expected to be a Major General or equivalent

  10. obiora says:

    All you guys are great here we need wise men like you guys in the security of the country

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