Efforts of the Federal Government to restore and entrench accountability, discipline and efficiency in the Nigerian Armed Forces may be in grave danger following outcry over recent planned retirement and irregular appointments in the top hierarchy of the Nigerian Navy (NN).
Our investigations revealed that after the retirement of the immediate past Chief of Accounts and Budget (CAB) in the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral BO Oguntola, from the Service on 9 May 2017, the vacuum created was not filled according to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) or the Manning Plan of the NN.
According to our sources, the Naval high command ignored the Manning Plan which calls for the replacement of Rear Admiral Oguntola with the most senior officer next to him in service and instead appointed a Navy Captain KM Bushi as the Acting CAB in the branch where competent higher officers of the rank of Rear Admiral are available.
Our correspondent gathered that the position of Branch Chief is for officers of the rank of Admiral. In a recent postings, officers below the rank of captains were assigned to jobs far above their ranks. The most senior officer left in the branch was sidelined leading to discontent among both rank and file of NN personnel. The scenario is the same in most other branches, where the most senior officers were posted to headquarters while junior ranks were given the leadership.
Speaking to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, a serving Commodore said developments following the retirement of Rear Admiral Oguntola and his replacement by a Navy Captain even though there is a Rear Admiral still in service is demoralising as it distorted decades of convention, procedure and tradition.
According to him, “The appointment is unpopular and can only be aimed at achieving or satisfying the personal agenda of the CNS and not in the public interest. How can the CNS appoint a Navy Captain who needs at least eight years to become a Rear Admiral into a position meant for an Admiral as stipulated in the Manning Plan of the NN?”
Another senior officer who also do not want is name and rank mentioned in this report said that Navy Captains are supposed to be Assistant Directors and so the appointment of a Navy Captain to oversee the Accounts and Budget Branch is a gross anomaly that can only demoralize officers at a time when the nation requires the total commitment of its service personnel to tackle multifarious security challenges bedeviling the country.
“Many of us are left wondering what criteria or convention, if any, were used by the CNS in appointing a Navy Captain to head this sensitive Branch when his seniors are still in active service,” he said, adding that “In the past, appointments strictly followed rank and there have been cases where senior officers with just weeks to retirement have been promoted in line with this tested tradition. The authorities should investigate if this is a case of personal bias or selfish interest otherwise it will set dangerous precedent for the continued growth of the NN.”
Investigations also reveal that tradition and convention in the armed services require appointments into posts and portfolios to be based on seniority and requisite qualifications and such practice can only be ignored at the risk of creating discontent and indiscipline.
Efforts to get official reaction to the story were unsuccessful as at the time of going to press.