By Achema Ochemeje
In Igala, a language spoken by the larger population of Kogi State, the word Akpabana, meaning Thunder is not an idle word. Mere pronunciation of the word calls everybody to attention, with persons of questionable character scampering for cover. You can swear by anything but not Akpabana because it may not wait for the rainy season before it strikes its victims. Akpabana strikes with incomparable precision, bright and brief. It is the messenger of the God of Justice and vengeance.
It is therefore not surprising that the shout of Akpabana rent the air as Usman Jibrin, a retired Vice-Admiral of the Nigeria Navy made his political advent in Igala land, recently. Admiral Jibrin, a former Chief of Naval Staff, has indicated interest in occupying the Lugard House as Governor of Kogi State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, come October 2019. According to the people, Jibrin, nicknamed Akpabana, is on a divine mission to rescue Kogi from the ruins of misrule.
For some time now, the political landscape of Kogi State has been pork-marked with stories of woes. Salaries of many workers have remained hanging in the orbit for many years, precipitating many into committing suicide for inability to meet obligations. The Judiciary, the final arbiter and the last hope of the common man has been under the jack boot of the White Lion, as the incumbent governor is fondly called. The State is also dotted with pervasive infrastructural decadence. Insecurity walks on four legs, no thanks to widespread kidnapping, banditry and militia, with political thugs brandishing AK-47 Assault Rifles as if a toy.
As a trained sailor, Jibrin is prepared to navigate the stormy political waters of the confluence state. His antecedents, as intimidating as they come, do not leave his people in doubt of his capacity to deliver.
Returning sanity to the State of Iron and Steel is uppermost on Jibrin’s mind. He has already thrown a wager at the gun-throttling and blood thirsty political thugs in Kogi State for them to either give up their evil vocation or would be paid in their own coin. Even these purveyors of violence are not in doubt of the former Chief of Naval Staff’s capacity to disarm them.
A renowned combatant, Usman Oyibe Jibrin, CFR was born on September 16, 1959 in Okura Olafia, a town in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, Nigeria. He attended the Nigerian Defence Academy as a member of the 24th Regular Combatant Course where he graduated as the Best Naval Cadet officer and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant of the Nigerian Navy on January 1, 1982.
He began his naval career as a watch keeping officer on board NNS Damisa and NNS Aradu immediately after he was commissioned as second lieutenant. He served in this capacity for two years from January 1982 to January 1984. He later served as base intelligence officer, NNS UMALOKUN for approximately three years from July 1984 to 1987. He served as a flag lieutenant to the Chief of Defence Intelligence Agency and to the Commandant of the Nigerian Navy Intelligence School, Apapa, Lagos State, Nigeria before he became an instructor at Navigation and Direction School, Nigerian Navy Ship Quorra. He served in that capacity for two years from 1989 to 1991.
In 1994, he was appointed as a Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, a tenure that elapsed in 1996. He was appointed as Executive Officer, NNS Enyimiri. In 1997, he became the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship Ofiom, and in 1998 he commanded the ship NNS Ambe in operation Liberty (ECOMOG), where he obtained the Command at Sea Badge. In 2001, he became the Deputy Director Attaché Management, Defence Intelligence Agency and the Naval Provost Marshal, Naval Headquarters.
In 2002, he was appointed as the Defence Adviser to the Nigerian Embassy Cameroun. He served in this capacity for four years until the end of his tenure in 2006. In December 2006, he was appointed as Chief Staff Officer at the Sea Training Command, and later became the Commandant of the Defence Intelligence School (DIS) Abuja on June 2007. Thereafter, he was appointed as Nigeria Navy secretary and while serving in this capacity, he was promoted to Rear Admiral. In 2010 he became the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, coordinating a joint operation involving the three services around the Gulf of Guinea, NEMO. He also coordinated a combined Exercise, called OBANGAME EXPRESS 2012, involving 11 countries including Germany and United Kingdom. In January 2014, he became the Chief of Naval Staff, and on February 5, 2014, he was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral.
Award for Excellence is Jibrin’s second nature. He is a recipient of several awards and decorations. Among them are: Best Naval Cadet (1982), Passed Staff College Dagger (psc+), Forces Service Star (FSS), Distinguish Service Star (DSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), General Service Star (GSS), Command at Sea Badge and Admiralty Medal.
Late Paul Odi, the legendary Igala musician actually referred to President Muhammad Buhari, then Head of State and symbol of military authority, that when he (Buhari) came on stage, antelopes and hares took to their heels. This record waxed many years ago is finding fulfilment in Jibrin’s appearance on the political stage of Kogi State. All the wild lives in Kogi politics are now running helter-skelter for dear lives.
Ochemeje is a Doctoral Student of Peace and Conflict Resolution