The immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, on Tuesday in Abuja, officially pulled out of the Nigerian Army in a parade at the Mogadishu Cantonment, Asokoro.
Olonisakin, pulled out following his retirement and appointment of his successor, Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, by President Muhammadu Buhari on Jan. 26.
As part of the military tradition in honouring a retiring CDS, the event involved a march past by the officers of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
It was attended by the Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, members of the National Assembly, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, current Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.-Gen. Irabor and other services chiefs.
Others in attendance were the traditional ruler of Ode-Ekiti, as well as representative of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.
In his valedictory remarks, Olonisakin thanked President Buhari for counting him worthy to command the nation’s armed forces in the last five years.
He said that his appointment as CDS came at time Nigeria was confronted with several security challenges like Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
Olonisakin said that confronting those threats was his major pre-occupation as CDS.
According to him, prior to his assumption of command along with the immediate past Service Chiefs in 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 terrorists.
“While the security threat posed by the Boko Haram is still being contained, the Armed Forces of Nigeria have, in the past five years, continued to develop capacities to contain insurgency and other asymmetric threats to our nation,” he said.
Olonisakin also disclosed that the military under his leadership had been transformed from being inexperienced in asymmetric warfare to building enormous capacity.
He said that the military had gained valuable experience in fighting asymmetric threats.
According to him, the current capacity to defend Nigeria has transited from fighting conventional war on land, sea and air alone, to capacity to contain threats to the country in the cyber security 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.
“The five and a half years of my tenure also witnessed transformation in the organisational structure of the Defence Headquarters,” he said.
Olonisakin commended the immediate past service chiefs and Chief of Defence Intelligence, over their efforts and sacrifices, adding that he felt proud to command, co-ordinate and direct the armed forces in the last five years.
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.