When in the paradise of men, truth is defined by diabolic interests: dews become heavier than downpour and mildest sunshine is narrated as a worse drought just to satisfy the hunger for bad news, for which course good things go unsung while any imaginable evil is trumpeted as absolute reality. No wonder the surest strategy to gain readership, followership and prominence in our country has recently become to threaten wars; aim to destroy others’ reputations; stoke ethnic tensions; raise false alarms of danger; and tell the biggest farfetched lie. More worrisome to me is the fact that far worse than the casualty of the truth in this evolving odious culture is the casualty of our common humaneness, without which there will be neither country nor humanity.
When on January 26, 2021, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, appointed Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, Rear Admiral A.Z. Gambo and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao as Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff respectively, one expected Nigerians of all tribes and faiths to applaud the development. This was more so because, in all sincerity, the appointments satisfied every demand Nigerians have made on the President regarding the Service Chiefs. But as it is with almost everything Nigerian where diabolic interest colorises the most honest deeds, foxes of ethnic tensions dug in and millers of evil reports went to work, throwing everything into the grinders just to keep the machines of ethnic crisis and distrust rolling.
I went into shock as I saw those that have ceaselessly asked Buhari to appoint an Igboman into the position of a Service Chief failed to recognise the ‘Igboness’ of General Irabor, an Ani-oma son, a full blooded illustrious son of the Igbo. And the significance of a Chief of Defence Staff of Igbo extraction was lost to the ever rolling mill of ethnic slurs that feeds the itching ears of deluded followers. And I asked myself if the outcry was driven by patriotic intentions, was Buhari not suppose to have been commended by those that have rightly gagged him for overlooking the Igbo in Service Chiefs appointment having now appointed a full blooded Igboman to the number one position in Nigerian Armed Forces? I realised that, truly, we are in perilous time when downpours of good deeds are reported by men as scanty dews once their dubious interests are not protected. I write because I am unable to see the superiority of the Igboness of late Chief Joe Achuzie (former Ohaneze President), late Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Austin Jay Jay Okocha and Sunday Oliseh, all of Ani-oma in Delta State to that of Major General Irabor of the same Igbo community. However, I have now sadly realised that to those sophists, no truth is sacred.
The darts of unconscionable political culture was also in display as the impeccable record of Major General Attihiru, a man of uncommon courage and extraordinary integrity, was not spared. Attahiru, known for his detribalised and pan-Nigerian view and fatherly personal concern for the welfare of his troops, was equally deluged with wartime-like malicious propaganda by some self made delusionists whose desperations are heightened by the fear of change in the status quo ante. Those scavengers who trade in the blood of patriots and feed on the carcass of our heroes are rightly afraid that with General Attahiru in charge of the Nigerian Army, blood will cease to flow and our heroes will no more fall, and their blood-stained money will dry up.
Major General Attahiru commanded 13 Brigade, Calabar at a time the Niger Delta Avengers was engaged in economic hostilities against the Federal Government of Nigeria. He engaged the avengers professionally and neutralized them within his area of responsibility without inflaming ethnic passion, thereby winning the admiration of the people of Calabar, Ogoja and Akwa Ibom. Following his successful engagement in the South South, he was appointed the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Enugu.
This was at a time the Indigenous People of Biafra campaign was almost drawing Nigeria to a repeat of civil war and series of unchallenged kidnappings and armed robberies almost brought economic activities in the south east to a halt. This highly professional soldier went to work with deep understanding of the enormity of his responsibility and the necessity to douse ethnic tensions. Throughout his period as GOC, he refused to be drawn into unnecessary confrontations with the members of IPOB, choosing rather to dislodge them by using shadow intelligence operations. This “Intellinfluencer” (using intelligence operations to influence an outcome without frontal confrontations) approach of Gen. Attahiru ensured the scuffle – free arrest of Nnamdi Kanu and the neutralisation of IPOB throughout his period as the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division Enugu. He equally destroyed the kidnap and armed robbery syndicates in eastern Nigerian without the death of a single innocent citizen, making Easterners to hold him in the highest esteem since then.
Major General Attahiru was equally called to duty in the North East region where he commanded Operation LAFIYA DOLE as the Theatre Commander with great success leading to the recovery of several territories and the capture and surrender of many Boko Haram member to his troops as he out-smarted them with a combination of a General George S. Patton – like rapid-continuous advance and a General MacArthur – like audacious strategies. It is unfortunate, therefore, that without batting an eyelid, some corruptly induced delusionists deployed their mastery of sophistry to diminish the rare achievements of this courageous gentleman and tactful officer, with the hope of keeping their illicit blood trade alive, just as some found it permissible to deny the Igboness of an illustrious General of Igbo extraction of no less blue and royal blood, General Irabor with the hope of keeping fire of ethnic slurs and distrusts they created burning.
I sincerely wish to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Irabor to the exalted position of the Chief of Defence Staff, not only because that as an Igboman from Abbi in Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu State, I recognise him as a brother and an Igbo of equal composition with myself, but that in the General we can boast of a best hand in this time of enormous national security challenges, and a pan Nigerian General, whose loyalty is to the constitution and the flag of the Federal Republic. Congratulations GENERAL IRABOR, GENERAL ATTAHIRU, REAR ADMIRAL GAMBO AND AIR VICE MARSHAL AMAO ON YOUR WELL DESERVED APPOINTMENTS. MY FAMILY AND I ARE PRAYING FOR YOU AND THE ALMIGHTY GOD WILL GRANT YOU GREAT SUCCESSES.
. Ayogu is the National Coordinator of CDSP Nigeria.