In Memoriam

Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru: Paying the Ultimate Price for Country

The sad event of 21 May 2021 that led to the sudden demise of Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru is one the country will find very difficult to live with. A hugely promising professional trajectory halted mid-stride by mysterious arrows of the heavenly realm.

The sudden short-circuiting of Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru’s excursion in life reveals the philosophical reality of the transience of human existence. It is this type of sudden, flashing occurrences that reminds mankind that it makes sense each day to always live in preparation for a final journey that is sure to come.

It is quite soothing that Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and the ten other officers that passed on with him, even as their bodies lie amid mangled metal, passed through the valedictory phase of their odyssey with heads held high. They died in active service for their fatherland.

Preliminary reports reveal that bad weather led to the crash of the military Beachcraft 350 aircraft which the 11 officers were traveling in at the Kaduna International Airport. It was reported that the ill-fated aircraft crashed at the airport’s runway about 6 pm.

Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and his team were en route Kaduna from Abuja on 21 May 2021 when the unfortunate incident happened.

It would be a pretty tough task capturing in one sitting all those unique qualities that illuminate the personality of the departed army chief. Given the sweep of his life, the scope of his accomplishments, as well as the applause he has so rightly earned over many years of military service, Lt-Gen Attahiru deserves a compendium that can adequately showcase his lifetime accomplishments to create a stronger mentorship benefit to the younger generation.

Major General Ibrahim Attahiru was born on 10 August 1966 in Doka, Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State. He is a graduate of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, and Nigerian Army School of Infantry.

His path to greatness started in 1984 when he commenced cadets training and was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant in December 1986 as an Infantry Officer. Even from his years in NDA, young Ibrahim was spotted as a bold, confident, and intelligent student

General Attahiru has held several appointments in the course of his military career. He had a tour of duty with the United Nations in Sierra Leone as a Military Observer, where he facilitated United Kingdom military engagement, Operation BARASS in September 2000.

He was an Operations Officer and later Company Commander in NIBATT 19 ECOMOG Operations in Liberia. Also, he had the unique privilege of having commanded with distinction all through the chain of commands in the Nigerian Army. Prominent among these appointments is Commanding Officer 146 Battalion Nigerian Army (Operation HARMONY IV) in the Bakassi Peninsula, Commander 13 Brigade Nigerian Army (Operation PULO SHIELD), General Officer Commanding 82 Division Nigerian Army.

Through his relentless pursuit of excellence and passionate disposition towards every assignment in his career, he rose to the position of Theatre Commander for Operation LAFIA DOLE (the Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency Outfit in North-Eastern Nigeria). It is on record that he brought relative stability to the region with the surrender of several Boko Haram combatants.

He was Deputy Director Military Secretary 2 at the AHQ MS (A), and one-time Director Army Public Relations and Spokesperson of the Nigerian Army. He was later Director Staff Duties and Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans at the Army Headquarters. He was equally privileged to serve as Chief of Defence Transformation and Innovation, as well as Chief of Defence Logistics at the apex organ of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Defence Headquarters, Abuja.

In that position, he worked with the US Defence Logistics Agency on the Vertically Integrated Logistics Approach (VILA) Programme towards enhancing the operational readiness in the Armed Forces of Nigeria. He was also privileged to be an Instructor at the Depot Nigerian Army, Nigerian Defence Academy, and the Nigerian Army School of Infantry.

As a quintessential manager of men and resources, he was made a Directing Staff and Chief Instructor at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji-Nigeria.

General Attahiru has been exposed to leadership and professional development programmes at globally renowned institutions. He was at the National Defence College Kenya for the National Defence Management and Security Studies Course, and at the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Special Forces Academy Shijiazhuang-Hubei Province, China, for the Basic and Advanced Special/Operations Commando Forces Courses.

Read Also: Tukur Buratai: Nifty Balancing Powers For Nigeria’s Diplomacy

He has undertaken leadership and security policy courses at the prestigious Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University USA, Graduate School of Media and Communication, Agha Khan University Kenya, Bournemouth University Disaster Management Center, and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. The General has several honours and awards to his credit.

He holds a Masters degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Masters of Science in Human Resources Management and Development from Salford University in the United Kingdom, and a Graduate Diploma in International Studies from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

All through his years in service up till when he was appointed Chief of Army Staff, Attahiru has touched and transformed thousands of lives of those who served under him through his foresight and service. He was a symbol of decency, humility, integrity, fairness, and justice.

For those who served directly under him at any point of his career, he would be fondly remembered as a charismatic, endearing, and passionate officer and leader.

Statements, reactions, and condolences have been pouring in. President Muhammadu Buhari expressed “deep sadness” over the air crash that claimed the lives of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers.

Buhari, in a statement through the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, offered his condolences to the families of the deceased, military and Nigerians in general.

He described the deceased persons as “heroes who paid the ultimate price for peace and security in the land.”

While praying that God receives the souls of the patriots, the President says the crash “is one mortal blow to our underbelly, at a time our armed forces are poised to end the security challenges facing the country.”

The Kaduna State Government also described news of the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and others in a plane crash on Friday as very sad.

Reacting to the tragic news, the Kaduna State Government, in a statement signed by its Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said the government “received with immense sadness news of the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and other senior military officers in a plane crash which occurred in Kaduna on Friday evening.

“Governor Nasir El-Rufai said that Lt. Gen. Attahiru was a shining star whose sudden death has robbed Nigeria of an officer striving to bring a new drive to secure the country against terrorists and other threats to national security.

“The Governor said the news of General Attahiru’s death has left him deeply shaken, with a sense of great personal loss, coming so soon after his appointment had brought immense pride and a sense of hope to the people of Kaduna State.

“Governor El-Rufai on behalf of the Government and People of Kaduna State has extended his condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari, all branches of the military, especially the Nigerian Army, and the family of General Attahiru, as well as the families of all the officers who have lost their lives in this national tragedy.

One of the priorities of the departed army chief when he took over in January was boosting the confidence of the rank and file within the military formation. He equally strengthened the army commands and control centre against attacks by terrorists to preserve military equipment.

Within his brief tenure, he also dealt with the issues of indiscipline within the armed forces and made sure they operated according to the Geneva guidelines on Human Rights.

His vigour and passion were shaped by his faith in the creative capabilities and boundless energies of the people he led.
He was also seen as a stickler for excellence and outstanding virtues. Even in his departure, the story of the military in Nigeria cannot be told without a big mention of this worthy leader.