His baptismal name is Lucky and, after his secondary education, he was very lucky despite his rural locality, he gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, as a member of the 34 Regular Course in 1983 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant on June 28, 1986. After over three decades of a hazardous career, luck smiled his way on January 15, 2021, when he was appointed Chief of Defence Staff, while Major-General I. Attahiru was appointed Chief of Army Staff, Air Vice-Marshal I.O. Amao, Chief of Air Staff, and Rear Admiral A.Z. Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff.
While serving under the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Sierra Leone and Liberia, he received the ECOMOG peacekeeping medals for operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as medals for United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
His luck continued to shine when the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, noticed the professionalism and the lucky star hovering around his personality and appointed him to command the Operation Lafia Dole in the North-East’s war front against the Boko Haram terrorist group in 2016 at the height of Boko Haram’s conquering posture when they had 18 local governments under their full control, planting and hoisting their terrorist flag. They also ventured into the Federal Capital Territory and its surburbs, inflicting heavy casualties and destroying many structures. Throughout the perilous times, when bullets were flying around the war zone, he was very lucky to have recaptured all the 18 local governments under the Boko Haram sect and even recaptured their stronghold, Sambisa, their ‘ground zero’.
Today, he is on top of the security services of the country. He is in charge at a very critical time such that many of his peers are not envying his position. With several missiles from politicians and pent-up, angry members of the public, whose rating of the service chiefs is very low notwithstanding their recorded successes against insurgency.
The people don’t agree with government’s acclaimed victory, describing such pronouncements as government propaganda.
Many do not fathom how bandits could be on rampage in a country that boasts of one of the United Nations best rated military.
However, many erroneously believe that the inability of the military to end banditry on a tuff that is operationally marked out for the Nigeria Police is tantamount to failure of all the security services.
Lucky Irabor must be thinking and strategizing, but with the recent critical security meeting the service chiefs had with their Commander-in-Chief, no doubt, the seriousness attached to their appointment now seems mind-blowing. He has been to some war fronts and, luckily, he emerged victorious. However, last week, he heard the voice of the Commander-in-Chief vibrating like a worried grandfather whose children were being daily dropped into a deep well. He would surely engage good workers to carry out a good job to prevent a recurrence.
After decorating Lucky Irabor and the other service chiefs, President Muhammadu Buhari left no one in doubt when he bluntly told them that it is now fight to finish and even gave them a time frame to complete the task.
Said he, “You have got a few weeks to do that because, by the rainy season, we expect people to develop confidence and go back to the land.
“So that we don’t get into trouble by being away from the field and, therefore, unable to produce enough food for the nation.”
Knowing that there might be collateral damage that might eventually attract political comments, President Buhari assured them thus, “I have accepted responsibility for your actions in the field; it’s up to you to identify your competent officers, irrespective of seniority and paper qualification, and deploy them to make sure that we secure this country.
“We all look forward to you to perform and I, as the Commander-in-Chief, I am backing you hundred per cent, and I expect you to effectively deploy your officers and men to secure the country.”
Whenever man is overwhelmed and incapacitated, he seeks divine intervention to address the difficult situation. During the Second World War and many other wars recorded around the world, it was noted that war commanders resorted to prayers before dispersing into the war zones. War records point to Gen. George Smith Patton Jr. of the United States Army who commanded the Seventh United States Army in the Mediterranean theatre of World War II, and the United States Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Those very close to him attest to his strong belief in divine intervention.
Here is a war, whether asymmetric or not, and Irabor has enough training and exposure to carry out the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, all they need from Nigerians is fervent prayer as Easter season approaches. Gen. Lucky Irabor is very lucky to be on the seat to direct the war not as an Edo State son but as a Nigerian fighting for the liberation of Nigeria, our dear country. We pray like Gen. Patton Jr., “That the families, relatives and friends of our military members may be strengthened in this time of concern and anxiety; we pray to the Lord:
“That the Lord may help families with men and women in the armed forces to cope with daily challenges in the absence of their loved ones; That our country will be preserved from violence and terrorism; we pray to the Lord: That violence may be overcome by peace; that weapons of destruction be transformed into tools of justice, and hate give way to true charity; we pray to thee O Lord.”
Hausanization of EFCC
The recent appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as chairman has further fuelled critics of President Muhammadu Buhari on his nepotistic stand. The question on many lips is if there is a secret agreement that says only officers from the northern part of the country can occupy the office of the executive chairman of the EFCC. Could it be that officers from other parts of the country are not as qualified enough to be so appointed? It becomes more worrisome when the narrative points at the simple fact that, since its establishment in 2003, all the five heads of the establishment were northerners. Does it mean that no other ethnic group is qualified enough to head the EFCC?
Years back, when Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was appointed to start the organization, it became clear when with the imput and assistance of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai that majourity (95%) of the pioneer staff was recruited from the northern part of the country. This writer wrote about it. Hausa was the major language spoken, instead of English. Also, because of their large number, a place of worship was arranged for the Moslem faithful. The imbalance in recruitment persisted until Ibrahim Magu started reversing the nepotistic trend.
(To be continued)