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Gen. LEO Irabor as “The Pearl of Defence”

By Mahmud Abdulsalam

Before he became the 17th Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Lucky Irabor, was one senior officer, whose career in the Nigerian military was undoubtedly cheaquered, yet uncelebrated.

The Delta State-born army general, without mincing words, gave a good account of himself, performing creditably well in the various posts he held prior to becoming CDS, in January 2021.

His tenure as Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, now known as Operation Hadin Kai, was a watershed, and a reference point till date.

Hence, when he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to succeed Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, the immediate-past CDS, only few persons (perhaps only those ignorant of his antecedent and leadership pedigree) expressed skepticism.

But a vast majority concluded that since Gen. Irabor was eminently qualified, he was the right man for the job. Talk of a ‘square peg in a square hole’.

They held a strong conviction that with his sheer administrative acumen and intellectual capacity Irabor will remarkably and effectively steer the affairs of the Nigerian military, at a time of ‘grave’ insecurity.

Incidentally, this writer, a Defence Correspondent, had a contrary viewpoint, necessitated by the enormity of security threats (then) afflicting the nation. There were armed bandits, Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters, kidnappers together with other violent criminals, whose activities, became menacing.

It was going to be an arduous mission for the ex-Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, together with the other brand new Service Chiefs, to tackle the worrisome security crisis in Africa’s giant, I concluded.

Was I not wrong, entirely? To hit the ground running, Gen. Irabor, few weeks after his appointment as CDS, unveiled his command philosophy anchored on PEARLS. Essentially, PEARLS stands for a Nigerian military which is Professional, Effective, Agile, Result-Oriented and Loyal to constituted authority, as envisioned by Gen. Irabor.

It is however, geared towards resuscitating the combat spirit of men and officers of the Nigerian military, to tackle the Boko Haram-ISWAP insurgency, in particular.

Passionate about addressing the coterie of security threats plaguing the nation when he took over, Gen. Irabor undertook several operational visits to troops in the frontlines, as part of boosting their morale while prosecuting the counter-insurgency, and other military operations, in the country.

The visits and tours of the CDS to various war theatres and commands worked wonders for the military institution. A renewed combat spirit and gallantry was displayed by officers and soldiers of our armed forces. The motivation to chronicle everything about Irabor, was developed in me. At this point.

The Nigerian Armed Forces, under the leadership of the CDS, has recorded many significant strides as far developing effective military strategies against terrorists, armed bandits, kidnappers, secessionist elements, and other criminals, is concerned.

From organizing security and intelligence summits and workshops to unveiling a gender policy for the Armed Forces, and then forging collaborations between other nations’ armed forces and the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, Irabor has shown that he means business in finding a permanent solution to Nigeria’s security woes.

Nevertheless, Gen LEO Irabor: The Pearl of Defence, an effort to chronicle the policy initiatives and key strategic activities that the CDS has launched, or either carried out, since he assumed office, would not have become a reality.

The book, a compendium of 31 feature articles on Gen. Irabor and his speeches at various military functions, was unveiled when the CDS marked his first anniversary in office, on January 26, 2022.

As a Defence Correspondent, this writer, firmly believes that having literary documents or books on activities and giant strides of serving Service Chiefs will serve as perfect ‘report cards’ that will be used to evaluate their performance(s), when they eventually leave office.

Hence, he embarked on writing weekly articles on Gen. Irabor’s activities, which PRNigeria, a household name in the business of disseminating credible security reportage, subsequently published as “Gen LEO Irabor: The Pearl of Defence”.

Again, let me also point out clearly, that the necessity to showcase the valiant efforts and contributions of troops of the Nigerian military and other key stakeholders in the nation-building project towards ending insecurity, which the CDS attested to in various parts of the book, informed the idea of “Gen. LEO Irabor: The Pearl of Defence”.

For the men and officers of the Nigerian military, in particular, there is no better way to get them inspired and motivated the more, than learning about the effusive praises their CDS heaped on them (in the book), for remaining steadfast and patriotic in defending the nation’s territorial integrity.

Meanwhile, as readers navigate through the shallow and deepest crevices of “Gen LEO Irabor: The Pearl of Defence”, they will surely come across the latent innovations introduced by an unassuming, yet a methodical Defence Chief, not only to justify the confidence Mr. President reposed on him.

But more importantly, to assiduously nurture a Nigerian armed forces that will be committed to discharging its constitutional and statutory responsibilities professionally and diligently.

All the things that make Irabor dazzlingly glow as a brilliant, shinning and accomplished CDS may not all be encapsulated in yours truly’s book. No doubt. The few that were captured, however, only affirm the indisputable fact that Gen LEO Irabor is, and indeed remains, “The PEARL of Nigeria’s Defence. At least, for now!

Mahmud Abdulsalam is Assistant Editor, PRNigeria

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