Major General Johnson Ochoga
PHOTO CREDIT: LEADERSHIP NEWSPAPERS
Now that Major General Olayinka Oshinowo, the incumbent General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army is retiring from service,the small matter of who succeeds him
on that job is up in the air, with analysts and competent watchers of the Nigerian military wondering who would get the nod to replace General Oshinowo at the Enugu HQ of 82 Division.
One of the topmost contenders however has to be one of the outgoing GOC’s immediate juniors at the NDA, Major General Johnson Ochoga, a RC 25 officer who enlisted in December 1978.
Ochoga’s rating as a top contender does not amount to merely flying a kite, given his seniority and certain relevant but not necessarily statutorily or conventionally inviolable precedents as we know them.
Indeed, the incumbent National Coordinator of Counterterrorism, Major
General Sarkin-Yaki Bello, who rose to
that ‘unusual’ perch (‘unusual’ for a serving officer) first served as the JTF
Commander in the Niger Delta and was then moved up to the command of the
82 Division as GOC. General Bello was
awarded a Gold Medal by the COAS, Lt General Ihejirika, for his highly competent command of both the JTF and the 82 Division at various times. Shortly
afterwards, the office of National Coordinator of Counterterrorism was,
in a manner of speaking, created for
the Kebbi-born General Bello in the Office of the National Security Adviser, ostensibly to allow the nation benefit from his tactical nous.
Back to the present times, General
Ochoga is the incumbent Commander
JTF in the Niger Delta, a triservice
military+security outfit whose area of responsibility (AOR) straddles roughly two-thirds of the 82 Division AOR. As a RC 25 officer, seniority appears to favour him and indeed the GOCs of 3 Armoured Division and 81 Division are his mates. Ochoga who has consolidated the peace in the Niger Delta and who works inside of and knows the salient security issues in the 82 Div AOR well, might just emerge as your next GOC, 82 Division.His operational experience, competent
command of the JTF, the fact of already
being on ground and seniority are facts
which lead me to draw this conclusion.
It has to be said that the Commanders of the Joint(Security)Task Force and the Special Task Force in the persons of Major General JAH Ewansiha and Major General Henry Ayoola respectively, by reason of emerging Nigerian military convention and having commanded supra-brigade level formations, albeit hybrid military-security outfits, are just as likely and qualified to be appointed to the command of any army division.
Indeed, the incumbent GOCs of 3 Armoured Division and 82 Division, namely Major Generals Jack Nwaogbo and Olayinka Oshinowo in that order, variously left off from being Commander JSTF(NE Nigeria) and Commander STF(Jos Plateau)
That said, it all ultimately boils down to
what the COAS’s STRATEGIC preferences
are. We shall see how it all pans out in the days to come.
2012 scorecard of the JTF – OP PULO SHIELD(Niger Delta); led by Major General Johnson Ochoga