…Two Others Survive Army Shake-up
By Inemesit Ina
The lone two-star general from Akwa Ibom State in the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Vice Marshal Mfon Jackson Ekpoh, has been appointed the Deputy Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna.
His appointment was contained in a NAF press statement on Friday, last week, announcing a major shake-up in which several senior officers were redeployed. According to the statement signed by the outgoing NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola, the redeployment was part of a routine exercise aimed at re-invigorating operational effectiveness and enhancing service delivery of the NAF.
Appointed were new Branch Chiefs, Air Officers Commanding (AOCs), Commandants of Tri-Service Institutions and other functionaries. Ekpoh, who is from Ikot Mbong in Awa clan of ONNA Local Government Area (LGA), was promoted to his present rank in November 2020. The NDA is a military university that trains officer cadets for commissioning into one of the three services of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).
The duration of training at the NDA is five years (four years, academic and one year, military).
Interestingly, another two-star general from Akwa Ibom, Major General Okon Edet Okon (retd.), from Afaha Ube Itam in Itu LGA, served as NDA Commandant from 2002 to 2003. A one-star general from Ikot Iko Ibon in Oniong clan of ONNA LGA, Air Commodore Glenn Bassey Nkanang, a University of Lagos-trained dentist, survived the latest NAF shake-up, retaining his position as the Commandant of the Nigerian Air Force School of Medical Sciences and Aviation Medicine (NAFSMSAM), Kaduna.
Similarly, two Akwa Ibom-born two-star generals, Major General Solomon Effiong Udounwa, from Nung Udoe in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA, and Major General Uwem Udo Bassey, from Mbiabong Ikot Udo in Ini LGA, survived the Nigerian Army (NA) shake-up announced on Saturday.
They retained their positions as the Commandant of the Army War College Nigeria (AWCN), Abuja, and the Director of Human Resource Development at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja, respectively.
The other two Akwa Ibom-born two-star generals, Major General Enobong Okon Udoh, from Ikot Udobia in Etinan LGA, and Major General Ifiok Martins Obot, from Afaha Essang in Abak LGA, may have voluntarily retired from the Army.
Until the shake-up, Obot was at the Army Resource Centre while Udoh was the Chief of Training and Operations at Army Headquarters, heading a strategic branch which has now been split into two with new chiefs.
Udoh, the most senior of the four, was promoted a two-star general in December 2015, followed by Udounwa in December 2018, Obot in November 2019 and Bassey in November 2020. A statement by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, said the postings and appointments of some affected senior officers were in a bid to re-position the Army for optimal performance. He described the postings, which were approved by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, as a normal routine aimed at re-invigorating the system.
All postings and appointments took effect from Wednesday, March 10, 2021. The shake-ups were necessitated by the recent appointment of a new Chief of Defence Staff and three service chiefs for the Army, Navy and Air Force by President Muhammadu Buhari. As at press time, the Nigerian Navy (NN) was yet to announce its own shake-up.
Akwa Ibom presently boasts of four two-star generals in the Navy. They are the Chief of Logistics at Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Rear Admiral Michael Etok Ebe, from Ikot Obong Edong in Ikot Ekpene LGA; the Director of Policy at Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Okon Edet Eyo, from Akai-Udo Ebughu in Mbo LGA; the Director of Records’ Return and Analysis at Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Joseph Akpan, from Idikpa Nsit in Nsit Atai LGA; and the Commander of NNS Wey, a maintenance unit of the NN at Navy Town, Ojo, Lagos, Rear Admiral Uduak Asuquo Ibanga, from Ikot Ekan in Etinan LGA. Ebe rose to a two-star general in 2017, followed by Eyo in 2018, Akpan in 2019 and Ibanga in 2020.