Former Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin on Tuesday declared that the Armed Forces of Nigeria under his leadership and strategic guidance has been transformed from being inexperienced in asymmetric warfare, built enormous capacity, and gained valuable experience in fighting asymmetric threats to the nation.
Speaking during the pulling out parade organized in his honour by the Defence headquarters, General Olonisakin said, “Our current capacity to defend Nigeria has transited from fighting conventional war on land, sea and air alone, to capacity to also contain threats to the nation in the cybersecurity and information domain.
“We have therefore built a solid foundation on which the current and indeed future generations of Nigerian military commanders can build on in the performance of their constitutional roles of defending our dear nation from both external and domestic threats to our corporate existence.
He continued, “The five and a haff years of my tenure as the Chief of Defence Staff, also witnessed transformation in the organizational structure of the Defence Headquarters. Some directorates of the DHQ were upgraded to departments to make them more impactful, we developed Special Forces capability with the establishment of DHQ Special 2 Forces Brigade.
“The immediate deployment of this special forces to the Gambia in January 2017 for Operation Restore Democracy enabled the restoration of democracy in the Gambia in the aftermath of the election crisis in the country.
“In addition to building operational capacity, enormous resources were committed to infrastructure development.
“Attention was also given to the welfare of our Service personnel through provision of office and residential accommodation, and the approval of an improved Terms and Conditions of Service, and Manuat of Financial Administration for the Armed Forces of Nigeria by Mr President, Commander-in-Chief.
“In consonance with the overall strategy of the Nigerian Government to apply a whole-of government approach to addressing the Boko Haram crisis, our military/ defence diplomacy saw to the operationalization of various military alliances between Nigeria and her neighbours, especially the Lake Chad Basin Commission countries. We also established close interaction and liaison with other strategic partners.
Addressing the crowd of well wishers which included Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), former CNS, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas, new CDS, Major Gen Lucky Irabor, Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, CNS, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo and CAS, AVM Amao, Gen Olonisakin said, “I remain highly humbled by the opportunity and privilege to have served as the Chief of Defence Staff in the history of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
“My long and successful career is by the uncommon grace and favour of the Almighty God, and the magnanimity of Mr President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari, who found me worthy of my appointment as the 16% Chief of Defence Staff of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
“As you are well aware, my appointment as the Chief of Defence Staff, and the appointments of the immediate past Service Chiefs, came at the onset of the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari with the accompanying security threats confronting our dear country and threatening the security and corporate existence of our nation.
“Confronting these threats was the major pre-occupation of our Armed Forces throughout my tenure
“As the Chief of Defence Staff. The five and a half years of my tenure as the Chvef of Defence Staff, have therefore been very eventful and challenging.”
“Prior to my assumption of command along with the immediate past Service Chiefs on 13 July 2015, the Boko Haram Terrorists held sway in parts of the North East.
“Our immediate challenge on assumption of office was to flush out the Boko Haram and restore Nigeria’s sovereignty over these occupied territories.
“Gratefully, with the support of the political leadership, particularly Mr President, Commander-in-Chief, and indeed all Nigerians, the Armed Forces of Nigeria, under my leadership was able to reclaimed territories that were hitherto under the control of the Boko Haram Terrorists.
“While the security threat posed by the Boko Haram is still being contained, the Armed Forces of Nigeria have, in the past 5 years, continued to develop capacities to contain insurgency and other asymmetric threats to our nation. “
The former CDS also paid tribute to the departed heroes who had laid down their lives in defence of the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He expressed confidence that he handed over the command of the military to a competent successor, who had commanded the MNJTF and Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole, among other strategic positions the military.