By Augustine Osayande in Abuja
Certain of an imminent retirement from service following the loss of power by his principal, President Goodluck Jonathan to Muhammadu Buhari at the last election, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah, on Friday okayed a ceremony to pull out 31 generals that had retired from the service since January last year.
Made up of 17 majors-general and 14 Brigadiers-general, the retired senior officers were those whose career paths were affected by the appointment of the incumbent COAS early last year.
It is a well-established tradition in the army that when an officer’s subordinate or junior is appointed the service’s chief, all senior officers are either retired or posted to a tri-service Organisation, (Defence Headquarters), provided the serving chief of Defence Staff is senior to such officers.
However, the number of those pulled out on Friday appeared staggering because, according to a military source, ” The Army could not afford the luxury of organizing a pull-out ceremony at a time when it was faced with very serious insurgency challenge. So, the number kept pilling up whilst we got engaged in decimating the insurgents.
“I can say with confidence that we have scattered Boko Haram and now, we are on top of the situation. So, we are very much at home to organise a befitting ceremony for our retiring senior officers, which we have just done.
“Besides the COAS does not want a situation where whoever will succeed him will be faced with so many senior officers to pull-out”, he said.
At the event, Maj-Gen. Emmanuel Bassey (rtd.) called on the Nigerian Army to carefully document its experiences in the ongoing operations in the North-East with a view to improving on its overall combat efficiency.
Bassey, who was the reviewing officer at the pulling out ceremony of 31 retired senior Army officers on Fridayin Abuja, made the call in a Valedictory address on behalf of the retired officers.
“Combat operation methods and logistics must be reviewed amongst others to enhance combat readiness and efficiency.
“`There is indeed no substitute to sound professionalism in the conduct of your duties, no matter its nature or degree of importance.
“The current security challenge that the Nigerian Army currently faces comes to mind as we retired officers follow the trend of events that affect our constituency-the military.
“It is heart-warming, however, to note that very significant progress has been made in the fight against terrorism.
“The army must therefore sustain the current momentum and put this difficult moment of our national history behind us,” he said.
Bassey commended the Chief of Army Staff and all personnel of the Army for the accomplishment and assured them of the retired officers’ support, always.
He urged the officers to remain loyal and to be extra vigilant always, adding that they must demonstrate total commitment to their duty to the nation, irrespective of the circumstances.
Bassey said the retired officers should consider themselves fortunate to have retired from the service with sound health.
“Going down memory lane, you will recollect that some of our colleagues paid the supreme sacrifice along the line under various circumstances, all in the service of our dear nation.
On his part, the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Ugo Buzugbe, said retirement was a process in the army and as officers were commissioned one day, they would also retire one day.
Buzugbe, who is the Chief of Policy and Plans of the Nigerian Army, said the ceremony was to honour some of their colleagues who were retiring after serving meritoriously.
“In the army it is a thing of pride to have joined the army, served in the army and retired meritoriously in sound health.
“Service in the military is service to humanity because it is the only profession that you pay the supreme price.
“As long as we have conflict that will demand the military’s involvement , we are ready to pay the supreme price as that is what service in the army is all about.