President Jonathan Replaces Security Chiefs, Consolidates Power Before Elections
In a long awaited move that observers say is a consolidation of his hold on power, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan replaced heads of security and military services on Wednesday.
He was also reported as having told the ruling party governors that he will be running for Office of President in the coming elections. According to Reuters, Imo State Governor Ikedi Okahim, a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), told reporters Jonathan had made his intentions known at a meeting with PDP governors in the presidential villa late on Tuesday.
“He told me yesterday he will run, he told all of us [PDP governors)] he will run, that’s why I am here with my speaker and my state leaders to assure him that we have decided we will support him,” Okahim told reporters. Jonathan has so far declined to publicly say whether he will run and his office has said that until he makes a public declaration either way any other comment is speculation.
Meanwhile, the head of Nigeria’s federal police, the Inspector General and the head of the State Security Service were replaced Wednesday. In a move seen by observers as done in preparations for elections, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo is replaced by Hafiz A. Ringim as acting Inspector General of Police while Mr. Ita Ekpeyong replaces A.A. Gadzama as the new director general of the State Security Services (SSS).
Former Air Force Chief, Air Mashall Oluseyi Peterin takes over as Chief of Defence Staff from Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike. Other retired security chiefs include the controversial Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. A. Dambazau, the chief of Naval Staff, The former chief of Naval Staff, Ishaya Ibrahim.
President Jonathan’s spokesman, Ima Niboro, at the presidential villa in Abuja said that “Mr President thanked them for their dedication to the service of the nation and wished them well in their future endeavours.” He said the tenures of the outgoing service chiefs had expired at the end of August and that the new appointments would take immediate effect. He gave no further details.
According to Reuters’ Felix Onuah, “Goodluck Jonathan is roaring like a lion,” said one security analyst in Nigeria, asking not to be named. The article states further:
“The appointment of an Igbo as army chief is of symbolic value and a gesture towards those in the east who complain of marginalisation,” said Antony Goldman, London-based head of PM Consulting and a Nigeria expert.
“In the short term, attention is more likely to focus on the new police chief, who will play a significant role in shaping the security environment during the forthcoming elections.
According to Next Online, President Jonathan met with the former service chiefs Tuesday morning, just before sacking them. However, there was no reports on what was discussed at the meeting nor any indication whether security chiefs had any foreknowledge about their pending replacement.