The Nigerian Army announced on December 6 that Major General Rogers Ibe Nicholas is replacing Major General Ibrahim Attahiru as the commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the military effort against the jihadist insurgency Boko Haram. Nigerian and other media speculates that the replacement, made without official comment, is in response to the military’s shortcomings over the past months in the fight against Boko Haram. If so, the personnel change reflects a welcome focus on accountability of the military leadership at the highest level. It also reflects a willingness to address problems instead of denying that they have occurred.
According to the Nigerian media, General Nicholas has been outspoken against military abuse of civilians, which is an important driver of Boko Haram recruitment. That, too, is a positive aspect of his assignment to Borno.
General Nicholas is a native of Imo state, in the south. In Nigerian social media, his is identified as an Igbo. His name would indicate that he is a Christian, though the Nigerian military does not identify religious or ethnic affiliation of its personnel. In the south and east, the Buhari administration is often accused of a strong, northern bias. Nicholas’s appointment is a refutation of that perception.