With firings of Onovo and armed forces chiefs, Jonathan enters hardball politics….
Special News Insight by Chido Nwangwu,
USAfrica multimedia networks, Nigeria360 e-group and CLASSmagazine, Houston.
About 5 months to the 2010 Nigerian presidential elections and a day after he reportedly told some PDP state governors that he will run for President of Nigeria, the country’s commander in chief and President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a sweeping replacement of the country’s Inspector General of Police and the armed forces service chiefs.
Inspector-General of Police (IG) Ogbonna Onovo has been replaced by Hafiz A. Ringim. Air Vice Marshall O.O Peterin becomes the new chief of defense staff; Major General O. A. Ihejirika is appointed as chief of army staff. He also served as the GOC 81 Division of the Nigeria Army, and facilitated the deployment of Nigerian soldiers to Darfur, Sudan. Rear Admiral O.S Ibrahim takes over as chief of naval staff. The chief of air staff is now Air Vice Marshal M.D Umar. Ita Ekpeyong comes in as director general of the State Security Services (SSS).
The new appointments, according to the Presidency “is with immediate effect, subject to the confirmation of the National Assembly, subject to the Armed Forces Act, section 18(cap a20 laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004).”
The special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Ima Niboro, who signed the statement added that the sacked armed forces leaders served Nigeria well and honorably.
As reported yesterday here on USAfricaonline.com , Nigeria’s staggered elections will begin with the presidential votes on January 22, 2011, forcing the elections agency INEC into a tight, critical time to hold free and fair elections.
Evidently, Jonathan has moved into the phase of hard power play against his main, likely opponents, namely retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, former EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu, ANPP flagbearer Mohammadu Buhari, Cross River State former Governor Donald Duke, Obasanjo’s VP Atiku Abubakar, and others. The ruling PDP board of trustees remains divided on whether the north is entitled to serve out the late Yar’Adua’s tenure or that his then VP Jonathan should serve out the ticket’s almost 18 months in office. Some of them oppose even more Jonathan’s soon-to-be-formally declared quest for his regular election as President of Nigeria.
Some of the domestic security insiders that USAfrica spoke to via phone in Abuja expressed the most surprise at Onovo’s removal, one year into the position; after a long wait of having served as deputy IG to 3 other IGs. On August 5, 2009 the Nigeria Police Council confirmed him as the substantive Inspector General of Police.
Was Onovo too independent for the Jonathan reelection agenda? Or was he not responding adequately to the spate of kidnappings and general insecurity in the country?
I chatted with Onovo, face to face in New York early this 2010 where he said among other things: “I promise not only to modernize Nigeria’s police but use high-tech equipment and locators to flush out kidnappers.”
Which makes it necessary for me to ask: did he perform as promised or did he not, in the estimation of President Jonathan?
What does the firing of the service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police mean for the holding of free and fair elections in Nigeria? Are there compelling national security matters which compelled Jonathan to act? Or….
• Chido Nwangwu, Founder of USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com, The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine, PhotoWorks.TV, AchebeBooks.com, Nigeria360, USAfricaTV and several blogs, assessed by The New York TImes as the most influential multimedia networks for Africans and Americans. He served on the editorial board of the Daily Times of Nigeria in Lagos and worked for the Nigerian Television Authority (news) in the 1980s; publicity committee of the Holocaust Museum, Houston; recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in May 2009; adviser on Africa to Houston’s former Mayor Dr. Lee Brown. Chido appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, SABC, CBSNews, ABCNews, FOXNews, NBCNews, etc. Chido@USAfricaonline.com. wireless: 832-45-CHIDO (24436). Office: 713-270-5500.