A former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Armoured Division of the Nigeria Army, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (Rtd), has said that the integrity of the Armed Forces of the country is as good as any middle power in the world.
He made this known in a reaction to an editorial comment published a national daily on Sunday, titled, “A military of many Generals”.
The editorial comment said the recent directive by the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) that military officers, who are senior to the newly appointed Service Chiefs, to proceed on retirement effective July 3, 2023, had continued to generate considerable interests.
The piece posited that, “It is unhealthy for the military if, with every new administration, we retire an average of 100 senior officers prematurely because their juniors have become service chiefs. But what that reveals are fundamental structural problems.
“For instance, part of the challenges created by the long stay of service chiefs under President Muhammadu Buhari was career stagnation in the armed services. Even at that, mass retirement of senior military officers has not always been as bad as this. What we are witnessing is a result of arbitrary mass promotion to senior ranks without recourse to global norms and practices.”
It said the authorities must ensure that only the very best make it to the apex of the profession.
But, General Olanrewaju, who is also a former Minister of Communications with enduring footprints, disagreed with the notion of the media organisation and chose to defend the policy of Armed Forces.
Gen. Olanrewaju (rtd) said, “The military has a system of promoting its officers in accordance with its manpower management policy. What the public has observed is a systemic failure due to many factors. The top-heavy distortion of the pyramid is an abuse of the system caused by the expansion of the existing ORBAT and extension of running out dates of some senior officers.
“I do not believe that those generals that were considered surplus to establishment are wasted and that this may impact on the combat readiness of the Nigerian Army.
“These retired officers can apply their experience, expertise and career specialisation to meet individual challenges outside the barracks.
“Like in most modern military systems, senior retirees easily find employment outside service. If the Nigerian Army can redefine its organisation for combat and recruitment system and minimise the abuses that are self-inflicted and ignore certain primordial sentiments external to the norms and practice of the military service, I think that the integrity of the nation’s armed forces is as good as any middle power in the world.
“The armed forces of Nigeria have projected their power and influence as a fit fighting force in Africa and outside of it, and the records speak for them,” General Olanrewaju said.
He added that, “The Running out Date of every officer is expressly explicit in the Armed forces Conditions of Service. Right from the day you joined the service, your reckoning of service begins with a known terminal date. The maximum number of years of service allowable is 35 years. The minimum years of attaining the rank of a Maj-Gen is 30 years.
“I suspect the current COAS must have served about 32-33 years. The military system has a dynamic transformation of replacement.
“The military is not weakened by the exit and entry of senior military officer cadre. It is always evolving through promotion examinations, professional and staff training, and performance evaluation.
“Every year, senior military officers leave service as when due whilst NDA replenishes with fresh cadets on training as a revolving cycle.
“There is nothing new in the retirement exercise of this nature. It happened in the past. It will happen in the future. That is the tradition provided the exercise is guided by the service regulations,” Olanrewaju stated.