The ability of Nigeria to secure her physical integrity and territory, as well as the effectiveness of the military is the responsibility of the office of Chief of Defence Staff. The office of the Chief of Defence Staff is the topmost military position in the country. The Nigerian Armed Forces which are; the army, navy, and air force, receive working directives from the Chief of Defence Staff, who reports to the President with administrative supervision of the Ministry of Defence.
This is a list of the Chiefs of Defence Staff in Nigeria’s history:
General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuche Irabor
Appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 26, 2021, as Chief of Defence Staff, he is the incumbent. Before his appointment as Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Irabor had occupied other top military positions within the Nigerian Army in his career.
He got enrolled in Nigerian Defence Academy in 1983 and got commissioned as Second Lieutenant into the Nigerian Army in 1986. He obtained academic training from Obafemi Awolowo University for his Bachelor’s degree, University of Ghana, and Bangladesh University of Professionals where he bagged two Master’s degrees. He received military training at Harvard Kennedy Schools of Government and Executive Education, National Defence College, Bangladesh, and Ghana Armed Forces Staff College.
General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin
Before his assumption of office on July 13, 2015, Gen. Olonisakin had occupied several other positions such as Commander of Nigeria Army Corps of Signals and Commander of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) between 2013 and July 2015.
In 1973, he enrolled in the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, and went on to the Nigerian Defence Academy before being commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army in 1981. He also obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University.
By January 26, 2022, he resigned as the Chief of Defence Staff after occupying the post for over six years and four months.
Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh
Born on November 7, 1957, and died on December 18, 2018, after an ambush assassination by gunmen on the Abuja-Kebbi road. His military career took off in 1977 when he enrolled into the Nigerian Defence Academy, of which he attained the level of Commissioned Pilot Officer after successful completion of the Nigerian Defence Academy training, in 1979.
He went on to achieve exploits during his career, occupying several high-ranking posts within the force. Before his occupation of the Chief of Defence Staff position from April 2014 to July 2015, he had served as Chief of Air Staff, Commander of the Presidential Fleet, Air Officer Commanding Training commands among. He retired from active military service in 2015.
Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim
He occupied the position of Chief of Defence Staff for over a year and three months from October 5, 2012, until January 16, 2014. He had served as Chief of Naval Staff before his ascent to the military’s topmost position.
He received military training from Nigerian Defence Academy and Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji. He also obtained a Law degree from Ahmadu Bello University and a Masters of Arts in War Studies from King’s College, London.
Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin
Appointed to the position of the Chief of Defence Staff on September 8, 2010, and served for two years and twenty-seven days, until October 5, 2012. He received military training from the following institutions; Laughlin Air Force Base, United States of America, Maxwell Air Force Base, United States of America, Pakistan where he trained on Flight Safety, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, and the National Defence College, Abuja.
He was also a Chief of Air Staff before his climb to the Chief of Defence Staff position, as well as other prominent roles during his career. The following aircraft were his areas of expertise; Bulldog, L-29, Alpha Jet, and MIG 21.
Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike
He was the first Nigeria Air Force officer to attain the Air Chief Marshal rank after his promotion in 2010. He was appointed to be Chief of Defence Staff on August 20, 2008, by President Umaru Yar’Adua, of which he occupied the position until September 2010.
He attained a number of positions prior to being the Chief of Defence Staff which include; Chief of Air Staff, Air Officer Commanding Markudi Command and Training Command Kaduna, Commander of the Nigeria Presidential Air Fleet, Airport Commandant of Murtala Muhammed Airport, among others.
Owoye Andrew Azazi
Gen. Azazi occupied the position of the Chief of Defence from May 25, 2007, until August 20, 2008. He had occupied several other top positions during the course of his career within the military such as; National Security Adviser under President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief of Army Staff, and General Officer Commanding 1 Division, Kaduna.
He died in December 2012.
Martin Luther Agwai
Gen. Agwai occupied the position of the Chief of Defence Staff from June 1, 2006, until May 25, 2007. He was also a Chief of Army Staff from 2003 until 2006, United Nations Advisor in UN mission in Sierra Leone, Force Commander, African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operations, Dafur, among others.
He was educated at National Defence University, the United States of America, and Armed Forces Command and Staff College. He retired in December 2009.
Occupied the post of the Chief of Defence Staff for a little above three years, starting from June 27, 2003, until June 1, 2006. He has also served as Adjutant, Commanding Officer, Directing Staff, and Director of Telecommunication, Nigeria Army Headquarters over the course of his military career.
Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi
Served in the position of the highest military office from May 29, 1999, to June 27, 2003. He was the first Nigerian Admiral, the first Naval Officer to be the Chief of Defence Staff as well as the first Naval Officer to attain four-star general rank in the Nigerian Military during a civilian reign.
Air Marshal Al-Amin Musa Daggash
Occupied the position of the Chief of Defence from June 9, 1998, until May 29, 1999.
Occupied the office of the Chief of Defence Staff from December 21, 1997, until June 9, 1998.
Gen. Oladipo Diya
Served as Chief of Defence Staff from November 17, 1993, until December 21, 1997
Born in 1943 and died in 1998. He occupied the post of Chief of Defence Staff from January 10, 1990, until November 1993.
General Domkat Yah Bali
Born in 1940 and died in 2020. He occupied the position of the Chief of Defence Staff from January 1, 1984, until January 10, 1990.
Gen. Gibson Jalo
Born in 1939 and died in 2000. He occupied the position of Chief of Defence Staff from October 2, 1981, until December 31, 1983
Gen. Ipoola Akinrade
Occupied the position of Chief of Defence Staff from April 1980 until October 2, 1981.