- Category: Politics
- Published on Friday, 10 September 2010 11:08
- Written by Vanguard
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COMMENDATIONS and condemnations, yesterday, trailed Wednesday’s sack of service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police by President Goodluck Jonathan.
As many Nigerians hailed the President’s decision to replace his service chiefs barely three months to the general elections in January, others believed the manner the sack was carried out was reminiscent of the military era.
Minister of Defence, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, who was in New York when the announcement was made said: “The timing is perfect. We have elections coming up next year and we have other issues coming up and the country is fairly stable and safe.”
The minister, in company of the ousted Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau, was on a week_long duty tour to the UN when the announcement was made in Abuja.
Following news of his removal, Dambazzau left the minister’s entourage which also included some senior military officers.
Their working visit, which began on Tuesday, was scheduled to last till tomorrow.
Prince Kayode said that the service chiefs were already aware that their respective tenures had expired in August, and it was subject to renewal based on the wishes of President Jonathan. He said: “They know that this is a normal, regular, statutory and constitutional exercise of power by Mr President.”
The Defence Minister, however, maintained that the service chiefs were not removed, stressing: “Under the rules and terms of condition of service, they are entitled to two years and their tenure has expired. Mr President, exercising his prerogatives under the Armed Forces Act and under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has every right to make new appointments.”
In his reaction, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State commended the President for appointing an Igbo man as the Chief of Army Staff, the first since the end of the Nigerian Civil war,
Governor Obi said: “At times when we consider the contributions of our fathers to Nigeria and what we are getting in return, one feels pained. Having said this, let me quickly add that the appointment of the first Igbo Chief of Army Staff, coming a few weeks after the appointment of another Igbo as the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration is a welcome development.
“It is a testimony that at last we are being seen as true partners in Nigeria. We urge the Presidency to continue in that direction until our neglect and marginalization over the years is completely redressed.”
Imo State ANPP chairman lauds Jonathan
Imo State Chairman of All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, Dr. Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe, said he was happy that President Jonathan had broken the jinx.
Ajumbe said: “I am happy that President Jonathan has broken the jinx after several years of Nigeria’s existence. It has given Ndigbo a sense of belonging.”, Ajumbe said.
He, however, cautioned the new COAS to put in everything in him to effectively discharge the function, especially to prove the point that Igbos were equally capable of functioning in such a capacity.
He added: “We do not expect anything less than proper discharge of the function. He has to write his name in the sands of time. He must prove to the world that Igbos are capable of handling such positions.”
Bishop of Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Dr. Chuka Ekemam, said it was a sign that justice and fairness had started to return to the nation.
He said: “That is wonderful. It is great. It is good news. We are one Nigeria. The development has given Ndigbo a sense of belonging. This has proved that fairness and justice has come to stay.”
Ekemam described President Jonathan as “calm, cool and calculated”, adding that his presence in the Presidency will change a lot of things for the better for the citizenry.
Abia State Governor Theodore Orji in a statement by signed by Mr. Ugochukwu Emezue, commended Jonathan for the gesture more so when the new army chief is from his state, Abia.
Orji said that President Jonathan had broken the jinx of not having an Igbo man as the nation’s army chief since the civil war ended over 40 years ago.
While describing the new army chief as a fine gentlemen who will take the army to greater heights, Orji charged him to be above board and make Nidigbo and Abia State in particular proud.
A renowned Professor of Medicine and currently the Pro-chancellor of Abia State University, Prof. J.C. Ogbonnaya described the appointment as a welcome development.
He said: “It is a good thing to occur while we are alive after the war. I thank the President for remembering that Ndigbo still exist. That particular position was last occupied by an Igbo man who happened to be an uncle of mine (Ironsi). It is a good development and I thank the President for that.”
An astute politician, Chief Ralph Egbu, also commended the President describing the appointment as a good development and good politics.
Egbu asaid the appointment was “a right step towards putting the Ndigbo where they belong,” adding that “it shows that the President feels the impulse of the people.”
He, however, hope that the appointment will span fours years, saying that if it ended with President Jonathan’s first term, it would mean nothing to Ndigbo.
Kalu wishes Ihejirika long tenure
Former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, celebrated the appointment of the first Igbo Army chief in 44 years.
He said: “I salute Gen.Ihejirika, I am happy for Ndigbo. I am emotional about this. I just pray this one lasts.”
While applauding Ihejirika’s elevation, the former governor urged the government to keep him on the job long enough for effect, adding: “Apart from Air Marshall Paul Dike, no other Igbo Service Chief spent up to two years in office.Even in the para- military, only Onovo failed to stay beyond two years since 1950 when Briton Sir Ivor Stourton assumed the position. In the Customs Service, the only Igbo Comptroller General in 119 years, Dr. Bernard Shaw Nwadialo barely lasted a year.”
Inter-society condemns removal
It was, however, not commendations all the way for President Jonathan as the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, INTERSOCIETY, condemned the manner of the removal of the service chiefs on the grounds that it had the trappings of a dictatorship.
In a statement in Awka, the Chairman of INTERSOCIETY, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi said: “It is a replica of the events of the military’s inglorious epoch when sensitive and major issues were handled or treated summarily.
“President Goodluck Jonathan should be reminded that the services and conduct of these service chiefs are governed by Nigeria’s Public Service Act and the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 and not under the oral rules and regulations guiding his nuclear family.
“The President may be wrong by saying that the tenures of the service chiefs expired since August 2010. For instance, it is a common knowledge among Nigerians that Mr. Onovo’s tenure statutorily ends in 2013, which is when he would clock 60 years and mandatory 35 years in the Public Service. Both are exit periods for any Nigerian top public servant. The case of Michael Okiro and Gabriel Ehindero is a clear precedent.
“Transparency as the bulwark of democracy, demands that such important decisions should be made public before they are carried out so as to elicit healthy debates and scrutiny among 150 million Nigerians.”