Buhari’s new Army Chief, Gen. Attahiru, was sacked as Boko Haram war commander

Major General Attahiru: Nigeria’s new Chief of Army Staff

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

If record of service and performance is to be the yardstick, many people, especially those who have been paying close attention to the prosecution of the war against insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast since 2015 would fault President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Major General Attahiru Ibrahim as Nigeria’s  new Chief of Army Staff.

Attahiru was appointed by President Buhari in replacement of General Buratai, who, according to a statement by the presidency, joined the other service chiefs to resign their appointments on Tuesday.

The President also approved the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Leo Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff; Rear Adm. A. Z. Gambo as the Chief of Naval Staff and AVM I.O. Amao as Chief of Air Staff.

With his appointment and given the preeminence of the Army among the services, Attahiru is expected to lead the war against Boko Haram, just like other COAS before him had done.

Attahiru was a former commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the code name for the special military operation against insurgency in North East Nigeria.

He took over from the very successful Major General Irabor in May 2017 with hopes that he is going to finally bring the terrorists to their knees.

Indeed, Buratai, perhaps, in expression of such hopes had asked him to deliver Boko Haram leader,  Abubakar Shekau, dead or alive within 40 days on July, 2017.

But such hopes were not realized. Rather, Buratai was removed from leading the war against Boko Haram six months later and replaced by Rogers Nicholas.

He was sacked following series of increase in attacks and suicide bombings carried out by Boko Haram using young girls under his command.

Indeed, he was redeployed three days after Boko Haram insurgents carried out one of the deadliest attacks on Biu town in Borno in which at least 18 people were killed and 52 others seriously injured.

Also, under his Command, Boko Haram intercepted a group of geologists and technologists from the University of Maiduguri who had gone for oil prospecting assignment at at Magumeri area of Borno state.

The insurgents killed about 12 soldiers who escorted the academics and some members of staff of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation on the team.

Also under Attahiru, the insurgets, using four female suicide bombers, attacked Muna Gari, a suburb of Maiduguri, killing about 14 persons and also carried out series of attacks in Adamawa state.

The insurgents also killed about 40 people in a suicide bomb in a mosque in Yola.

In November 2017, a unit commander of the army and about 15 soldiers were killed when the insurgents attacked a military unit in Sassawa, Yobe state.

“A new commander has been appointed for Operation Lafiya Dole,” army spokesman Brigadier General Sani Usman said in a statement released on 7 December, 2017 few days after two suicide bombers killed at least 13 and injured more than 50 in Biu, a town some 185 kilometres (115 miles) south of Borno state capital Maiduguri.

Now that he is back to lead the Army’s battle against Boko Haram as the overall commander of the ground forces, Nigerians will expect him to do better in the war against insurgents.

Born on 10 August 1966 in Doka, Kaduna State, General Attahiru was graduate of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Armed Forces Command and Staff College and Nigerian Army School of Infantry,

He has held several appointments on the staff, instructional and in command in the course of his military career. He was UN Military Observer in Sierra Leone and Company Commander during ECOMOG Operations in Liberia.

He was also Commanding Officer 146 Battalion in the Bakassi Peninsula, Commander 13 Brigade Operation PULO SHIELD and General Officer Commanding 82 Division Nigerian Army and Theatre Commander Operation LAFIA DOLE.

Other positions he held included Deputy Director Military Secretary, Director Army Public Relations, Director Staff Duties and Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans at the Army Headquarters.

Attahiru was equally the Chief of Defence Transformation and Innovation and Chief of Defence Logistics at the Defence Headquarters Abuja.

He was also an Instructor at the Depot Nigerian Army, Nigerian Defence Academy, the Nigerian Army School of Infantry and Chief Instructor at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji-Nigeria.

General Attahiru has been exposed to leadership and professional development programmes at globally renowned institutions. He was at the National Defence College Kenya for the National Defence Management and Security Studies Course and at the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Special Forces Academy Shijiazhuang-Hubei Province, China for the Basic and Advanced Special/Operations Commando Forces Courses.

He was also at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University USA; Graduate School of Media and Communication, Agha Khan University Kenya; Bournemouth University Disaster Management Center and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

He holds a Masters degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies, the Nigerian Defence Academy; Masters of Science in Human Resources Management and Development, Salford University and Graduate Diploma in International Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya.