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Buhari’s Cabinet Moves Come as a Surprise for Many

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has fired the heads of the country’s armed forces whom he appointed when he first took office in 2015. In a surprise move, he also tweeted the names of their replacements. No reason was given for the resignations of the army, navy, air force and chief of defence staff heads. It comes as Nigeria continues to grapple with widespread insecurity including the long-running Boko Haram insurgency and rampant kidnappings. There have been calls, notably from the country’s powerful governors and the National Assembly, for the president to replace the service chiefs as many felt they were underperforming. Mr Buhari, a former army general, was elected in 2015 on the promise of ending the insurgency in Nigeria’s north-eastern region. The outgoing military chiefs have served for about five years – making their tenure the longest since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999. They were initially praised for how they dealt the militant group Boko Haram and its splinter faction Iswap. The security chiefs have also faced a lot of criticism for the dramatic rise of criminal gangs who kidnap for ransom. In December more than 300 boys were taken from a school in the north before they were later released following negotiations with the abductors. Nigerians, who see this move as long overdue, hope the new security chiefs will work to make the country safer, but analysts say more needs to be done to provide the military with the right equipment and funding, as well as looking after the welfare of troops, before any tangible changes will be seen.