Major General Garba Ayodele Wahab, native of Ilorin Emirate in Kwara State. Born in 1958, member of the Short Service Combatant Course 22 intake, graduate of the University of Lagos and the Royal College of Defence Studies. 33-year veteran. Promoted to the rank of Major General in November 2011.
The cerebral Wahab, a respected charismatic officer and great trainer of men nicknamed “Sankara”, was until his February 2012 appointment as GOC 1 Mechanised Division, the Director of Operations in the Training and Operations Branch at the Army Headquarters. In that capacity, Wahab bore direct responsibility for coordinating the multifaceted counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and other operations of the Nigerian Army and served directly under Major General Lawrence Ngubane, the Chief of Training and Operations – an erstwhile JTF Commander in the Niger Delta and former GOC 2 Mechanised Division, Ibadan.
For me, the youthful General Wahab represents the just face of the Nigerian Army. Indeed, at 2200hrs on the 22nd day of April 1990, a day in which Major Gideon Gwaza Orkar led a bloody attempt at ousting the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, the network news broadcast of Radio Nigeria announced a list of officers declared wanted for alleged complicity in the coup attempt. One of the officers so mentioned was a certain Captain GA Wahab. You guessed right, it was the same General Wahab of today.
As these things go, he was fortuitously absolved of all charges and allowed to resume his regimental duties. Fortuitously, we said, because it takes a stroke of goodluck to escape the guillotine in such circumstances when it takes the slightest shadow of doubt to be roped in and executed by firing squad.
It is gratifying that an innocent man has not only risen to the lofty rank of Major General but has also been deemed worthy on account of his well-advertised military capabilities, to become the General Officer Commanding, 1 Mechanised Division, Nigerian Army.
Indeed in 1976, Colonel ADS Wya was not so lucky. Arrested for complicity in the abortive coup of 13th February 1976 which claimed the life of Nigeria’s Head of State General Murtala Muhammed, Colonel Wya was summarily tried and executed. It later turned out that he almost certainly had been a victim of miscarriage of justice. By which time, his Irish wife had died and his disconsolate younger brother had committed suicide. Until his unfortunate demise, Colonel Wya was the Commander of the Corps of Artillery and an accomplished wartime commander.
Back to the less gloomy present times, General Wahab’s area of responsibility spans an expanse which is slightly larger than Poland (or three times the size of Liberia/half the size of South Sudan) and spans all of NW Nigeria, Kogi State, Niger State (which by itself occupies a larger area than Sierra Leone) and an unlikely garrison at Nguru in NE Nigeria.
In concrete terms, General Wahab’s 1 Mechanised Division AOR covers flashpoints such as Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, Okene, Madalla and Suleja.
He presides over five brigade-sized formations (including 1 Div Garrison and 41 Division Engrs).
Major General Jack Okechukwu Nwaogbo is a pioneer of sorts. A member of Regular Course 25 intake into the Nigerian Defence Academy, he is a 34-year veteran who gained prominence with his appointment in June 2011 as the the pioneer Commander of the Joint Security Task Force – “Operation Restore Order” in Northeastern Nigeria. About three months later, he added the portfolio of Commander, Armoured Corps to his command of the JSTF and in February 2012, he emerged as the first officer of Southeastern extraction to be appointed GOC 3 Armoured Division since its creation in 1967 as the 3 Marine Commando Division and susbsequent redesignation in 1976 as the 3 Armoured Division.
His area of responsibility is equal in size to Italy (Ghana+Sierra Leone combined) and spans over 255,000 sq. km of territory in NE Nigeria bar Takum and Nguru garrisons, Plateau and Nasarawa states.
General Nwaogbo’s AOR covers such terror-besieged cities and towns such as Maiduguri,Jos, Damaturu, Potiskum, Gombe, Yola, Jalingo, Mubi, Biu, Banki, Baga, Gamboru, Kumshe etc.
General Nwaogbo has three fellow GOCs, two Corps Commanders, the Military Secretary and the Chief of Defence Intelligence, among others as coursemates. These are
* Major General MD Abubakar – GOC 2
* Major General Olayinka Oshinowo, GOC 82 Composite Division
* Major General Ken Minimah, GOC 81 Division
* Major General Sani Yusuf Audu – Chief
of Defence Intelligence
* Major General Ebi Awala, Commander, Nigerian Army Armoured Corps
* Major General AK Kwaskebe,Commander, Nigerian Army Corps of
* Major General Ugo Buzugbe, Military Secretary(Army)
He presides over five brigade-sized formations (including 3 Division Garrison and 43 Division Engrs)
Major General Olayinka Oshinowo, also a RC 25 officer, is a 34-year veteran. In September 2011, the Defence Headquarters expanded the Special Task Force – Operation Safe Haven with the addition of two more battalions and 1,500 MOPOL men plus more SSS agents, seamen and airmen. Concomitantly, this infusion of about 4,000 more defence and security forces entailed that the command of the STF be similarly upgraded from a Brigadier General’s portfolio to one commanded by a Major General. Thus General Oshinowo emerged as the first-ever two-star general to command the STF.
Like his coursemate General Nwaogbo who commanded the JSTF, his elevation to the command of a division is believed to be just reward for his effective command of the STF.
As GOC 82 Division, his area of responsibility includes all of the volatile Niger Delta, Southeastern Nigeria, Benue State and parts of Taraba State in NE Nigeria. He presides over six brigade-sized formations (including 82 Division Garrison and 44 Div Engrs)