The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Femi Adesina, on Tuesday evening said it was the President who decided that “it was time to rejig the system and bring in fresh blood” by sacking the former service chiefs.
Adesina stated this in an interview on Channels Television, a comment which contradicts Buhari, who had tweeted that he accepted the resignations of the former service chiefs.
Using his verified Twitter handle, the President said on Tuesday, "I have accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service. I thank them all for their overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to Nigeria, and wish them well in their future endeavours.
"I have also appointed new Service Chiefs to replace the retired officers:
Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A. Z. Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; Air-Vice Marshal I. O. Amao, Chief of Air Staff."
I have also appointed new Service Chiefs, to replace the retired officers:— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) January 26, 2021
Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff
Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff
Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff
Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff.
Also, in a State House press release on Tuesday afternoon, Adesina announced that “President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.
“Those involved are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.”
But appearing hours later on Channels Television, Adesina stated that it was the President who decided that it was time to have new service chiefs and sack the current chiefs.
He said, “I don’t think it is a matter of right or wrong. It is just a matter of doing what is best for the country at the best time. It will not be right to say one side was right or one side was wrong because the President even in the statement we issued also commended the outgoing service chiefs for their contribution to engendering a safer country.
“That shows that by and large, he was satisfied with their performances and he just felt it was time to rejig the system; have fresh energy, have fresh blood, have fresh ideas.”
The former service chiefs had refused to resign since 2017 when they clocked up the statutory years they are supposed to spend in service, even while the country was grappling with rising Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and kidnapping.
Although Buhari tweeted on Tuesday that he accepted the resignation letters of the former military chiefs, the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, had clarified in the past that the military chiefs could not resign and had to be laid off by the Commander-In-Chief - the President.