The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Tuesday, decorated 43 of the 45 newly-promoted Majors-General in the Nigerian Army with their new ranks in Maiduguri, the epicentre of the degraded Boko Haram insurgency.
This is the first time such a number of generals were promoted at a time and decorated outside the Army Headquarters in Abuja.
Two of the officers left out in the ceremony were the Commander, Guards Brigade, M.S. Yusuf, who was unavoidably absent due to the exigency of duty and late B.A. Raji, who was promoted posthumously.
Late Brig.-Gen. Raji led the operation that liberated the popular “Alagarno forest’’, the so-called spiritual headquarters of the Boko Haram insurgents.
Buratai said that the reason for holding the ceremony in the North-East and indeed Borno was to underscore the importance of the counter-insurgency operations in the security architecture of the country.
“Therefore, the final defeat of the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists and the stabilisation efforts in conjunction with other security agencies must be uppermost in your minds.
“As you are decorated today, the next mantle of leadership of the Nigerian Army will fall on your shoulders.
“You are, therefore, expected to show commitment to be more dedicated and focused in the discharge of your responsibilities.
“You must put at the back of your minds the challenges of the counter-insurgency operations in the North- East,’’ Buratai said.
He noted that insurgency was a difficult war that required all hands to be on deck for it to be effectively tackled and finally destroyed.
According to him, the Nigerian Army has played its role satisfactorily in that regard.
“We have won the ground war and the Boko Haram terrorists substantially degraded. We have secured Nigeria’s territorial integrity and equally maintained her sovereignty. We have carried out our tasks proudly and professionally.’’
The army chief said that what remained now was for other stakeholders – the political class and intelligence community – to take up the “salient aspects of this war to the remaining ill-fated insurgents.’’
“The Nigeria Police Force must be fully on ground in all the states in the North-East.
“Civil administration must be fully re-established in all the Local Government Areas.
“The civil authorities must fight the ideological, social and propaganda wars.
“The issues of indoctrination and propaganda by the terrorists must be stopped. These are the surest way to finally defeat the insurgents,’’ he said.
In the goodwill message, Gov. Kashim Shettima through the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Jida, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his “irrevocable commitment to wipe out the terrorists from the region.’’
Shittima said that performing the decoration ceremony in Maiduguri was an indication that the army had subdued the terrorists, making the town and state safe and secure.
He charged the newly-promoted majors-general to be committed to whatever assignment they were given with their new ranks.
In the vote of thanks, Maj.-Gen. O.H. Otiki, thanked the President, Army Council, chief of army staff for the promotion and pledged that they would be committed and loyal to the nation and army authorities.
Otiki noted that the constant visits of the chief of army staff to troops in the frontline had served as a morale booster to them and their commanders.
Those promoted to two-star generals (Majors General) are Brig.-Gen. H.O. Otiki, Acting Commander, Defence Headquarters Garrison; Brig.-Gen. O.O. Soleye, Acting Director Veteran Affairs and Defence Headquarters.
Others are Acting Provost Marshal, Brig.- Gen. A.T. Hamman; Acting Military Secretary, Brig.-Gen. l. F Yahaya; Acting General Officers Commanding 3, 7 and 8 Divisions, Brig.-Gen. B.A. Ahanotu, I.M. Yusuf and S.O. Olabanji.
Also promoted to Majors-General are Acting Commander, Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps, Brig.- Gen. J.I. Unuigbe; Brig.-Gen. A.A. Jidda, Acting Commander Nigerian Army Corps of Supply and Transport and Acting Chief of Accounts and Budget (Army), Brig.-Gen. J.E. Jakko.
Promoted to the two-star generals also are Commandant, Depot Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. V.O. Ezugwu and Brig.- Gen. A.C.C. Agundu, Director, Foreign Liaison, Defence Intelligence Agency, Acting Commander, Headquarters Command Army Records, Brig.-Gen. H.E. Ayamasaowei and Brig.-Gen. M.S. Yusuf, Commander Guards Brigade, while late Brig.-Gen. B.A. Raji was promoted posthumously.