The Defence Headquarters on Friday experienced an historic event of the official change of power and handing over of Leadership to the 17th Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Eluonye Irabor by General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (rtd) who served as the 16th Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) for five years, Six months and 14 days of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).
The newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff pledged to provide the right leadership and environment to enable officers and men of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) efficiently perform their constitutional responsibility of defending the nation against external aggression and other security challenges.
Gen Irabor in acknowledged that there were enormous security challenges currently facing the country, disclosed that “himself and the Service Chiefs will in no distant time take actions that will significantly add value to tackle the security challenges across the country.”
Maj Gen Irabor applauded officers and men of the Armed Forces of Nigeria for being part of the efforts and gains made thus far in the fight against insurgency, militancy, banditry and other sundry crimes, while noting that he looks forward to greater contributions from them.
He therefore urged Nigerians to support the Armed Forces of Nigeria and security agencies in tackling the contemporary security confronting the nation, adding that the collective efforts and responsibility between the security agencies and the citizenry is an essential factor.
He also recognized and thanked the outgoing Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the other Service Chiefs for their leadership virtues and their immense contributions while in office, noted that giant strides AND achievements were recorded under their command.
However, CDS thanked commander-in – chief, President Muhammadu Buhari for his appointment, pledging his loyalty to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to carry out his duties with utmost sense of commitment.
The immediate past CDS, Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin in his valedictory Speech, expressed his gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for the opportunity to serve the nation at the highest Command of the AFN and for the contributions made under his watch as the CDS in containing the various security challenges which he noted pre-occupied the AFN throughout his tenure.
Gen Olonisakin who revealed that the new CDS has been part of the operational efforts, urged him to continue to review the AFN strategy to address the changing nature of security threats. He commended the immediate past Service Chiefs for their tireless efforts, saying that he was proud to have led, directed and coordinated their collective national security efforts.
In attendance were the newly appointed Service Chiefs, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Awwal Zabairu Gambo and the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Isiaka Oladayo Amao who have equally taken over the mantle of leadership in their respective Services.
The new Defence Chief, who is a member of 34 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), is an alumnus of the National Defence College Bangladesh and the Harvard Kennedy Schools of Government and Executive Education, USA.
The senior officer served in numerous capacities, prime among which were: Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Force Commander, Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the Chief of Defence Training and Operations.
He also holds Masters Degrees from University of Ghana, Accra and Bangladesh University of Professional, Dhaka.
Before his appointment, Gen LEO Irabor was the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command, Nigerian Army.
He is a recipient of ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping medals for operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Chief of Defence Staff is the highest ranking military officer of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
It is occupied by the most senior commissioned officer appointed by the President of Nigeria. The position was established for the first time under Nigeria's 1979 constitution.