Ohanaeze Ndigbo on Thursday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to consider the Southeast when appointing Service Chiefs.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural group praised the President on the new appointments bur expressed disappointment that “southeast is still not represented”
President Buhari on Tuesday announced the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff; Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru as Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo as Chief of Naval Staff and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao as Chief of Air Staff.
Ohanaeze President-General Prof. George Obiozor, in a statement said the Service chiefs’ appointments would go a long way to “reassure Nigerians that the President is determined to contain and control the nation’s security problems with fresh ideas and strategies.”
He added, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN): “We particularly thank the President for the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, a tested General and a gentleman.
“However, Mr President, one way of ensuring compliance with the Federal character provision of the Constitution is to observe the distribution of important and vital offices of the Federal Government in accordance with the zonal structure.
“Mr. President, particularly in the area of the security architecture of the country, the Southeast zone which was conspicuously absent in your first term has now again not been included so far in your recent appointment of service chiefs.
“Ohanaeze hopes and believes that the President in continuation of appointments in this sector will consider the Southeast.
“We wish President Buhari a successful second term with peace and security for the country and prosperity for the people of Nigeria.”
Ohanaeze got the backing of the Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CONEPD).
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Zana Goni, the elders appealed for calm, adding that they would mount pressure on the President to include an Igbo person in the security architecture.
CONEPD said in a statement: “We completely throw our weight behind Ohanaeze Ndigbo on their position over the appointments of the new service chiefs.
“We vehemently appeal to Mr President for a review of the appointments to accommodate our Igbo brothers from the South East region in line with the federal character principle of the country.
“We are absolutely sure that taking this action will make the designers of our country happy where they are watching.
“We received with great excitement the news about the sacking of the former service chiefs of the country by Mr President. It is quite commendable that the President finally listened to the clarion call by Nigerians to that effect.
“However, the composition of the service chiefs greeted us with mixed feelings and sincere concerns. We strongly believe that the list does not meet a fair list as it is lacking in fairness, justice, and equity to the south easterners.
“We thought some lessons would have been learnt by the Presidency by now that the Igbos too, are also Nigerians and deserve to be fairly and godly treated.
“How can there be an appointment of two sets of service chiefs without any Igbo person among them? Is this fair? What exactly have the Igbo people done to deserve this kind of unfair treatment?”
The group said it found that Igbo has senior and very qualified military officers in the Navy, Army, and Air force who are serving faithfully in their various capacities!
“What is their sin? We have seen how the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and several Igbo groups are fighting the criminal son, Nnamdi Kanu and his group, the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, on a daily basis because they believe and act one Nigeria.
“We appeal to Mr President to have retrospection over this his latest appointments and do the needful.
Gen. Attahiru takes over
Maj.-Gen. Attahiru took over from his predecessor, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, at an elaborate handing over ceremony in Abuja on Thursday.
In line with the Nigerian Army tradition, the former army chief decorated his successor with the insignia of the office and handed the play of office to him.
The pulling out parade for Gen. Buratai will hold Friday.
The new Service Chiefs for the Navy and the Air force are expected to resume Friday.
Gen. Buratai thanked God for a successful service to the nation and President Buhari for finding him worthy.
He urged the new army chief to ensure that the Army remained professionally responsive in the discharge of its constitutional duties.
He said the army under his watch ensured that democracy was supported and protected, urging his successor to ensure that the army continued to be loyal and professional.
“I am proud to say that the Nigerian Army has transformed to become professionally responsive in the defence of democracy with utmost loyalty.
He also appreciated all the troops serving in all operations both home and abroad, especially the operation Lafiya Dole, Sahel Sanity, and Delta Safe, among others.
Gen. Buratai recalled that he was nearly retired by former President Olusegun Obasanjo 21 years ago as a Major, adding that his attainment of the rank of Lieutenant General and Chief of Army Staff was historic.
He said: “Former President Obasanjo almost retired me 21 years ago when I was a Major. My retirement after 40 years of Service is historic, hence calls for gratitude.”
He added that the Nigerian Army had been better positioned with intelligence gathering techniques and equipment.
Gen. Attahiru solicited the support of soldiers and officers to reposition the Army.
There was jubilation in some military units and formations as Gen. Attahiru took over.
In some viral videos, soldiers were seen dancing and shooting into the air.