Not many soldiers will express their inner fear they bottled when they signed the dotted papers to enlist into the Nigerian Army. It is a stoic disposition that fades as they progress in the service to nation.

When young Lucky Eluonye Onyenuche Irabor got admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1983, his peers were not surprised as he had earlier exhibited high sense of discipline and bravery.

His service to Nigeria was without blemish. His attention to minute details, man management skills as well as leading from the front as Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, decimated the notorious Boko Haram elements in the North-East of Nigeria. His appointment as the 17th Chief of Defence Staff on 26 January, 2021, was therefore not surprising.

General Irabor, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical/Electronic Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, attended several other higher institutions both in Nigeria and overseas. He obtained Masters Degrees in International Affairs and Strategic Studies respectively from University of Ghana and Bangladesh University of Professionals.

Ordinarily, his kinsmen ought to worry about his integration into the society outside the barracks where he was for more than thirty-seven years. This is however not the case as there was never a disconnect between him and his people.

In the last ten years, General LEO Irabor sponsored annual football tournament in Agbor. He spends his Christmas in Aliokpu, a serene village in Agbor. Even as the senior army in the country, anytime he is in Agbor and in the midst of friends, his military toga is dropped outside the gate.

General Irabor who stepped down from the Nigerian Army last month, will be welcomed home this weekend at Agbor. His people are not only elated that he completed his Jordan curve but for his contribution to his community.

Chief Larry Onyeche, the President-General of Agbor Community Union, said there is no level of celebration too elaborate to honor a man who served his community and nation without stain. He added that General Irabor rose to the pinnacle of his carreer and performed so well to the joy of Ika Nation unlike some that never cared for their kinsmen and community.

While espousing his humility, Chief Onyeche linked the retired officer to several infrastructure and human capital development in Ika Nation. The Chairman of the reception committee to welcome the former Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral NP Agholor(rtd), said his colleague in the military deserves all the encomiums.

According to him, the military top brass is a father, son, and brother in whom they are well pleased, stating that he distinguished and acquitted himself with an unblemished service to the nation.
While stressing that it is because of the honour he brought to the land that motivated the people to welcome him back with pomp and pageantry, the retired naval officer stated that Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, Executive Governor of Delta State, serving and retired service chiefs will grace the occasion to give honour to whom honour is due.

Reacting to the news of the decision of the entire Ika Nation comprising of eleven kingdoms to celebrate the former Chief of Defence Staff, his friend, Brig Gen Mike Ebie(rtd), said it is honour deserved, adding that he is a bridge builder, master strategist, large-minded as well as calving a niche for himself in the sands of time.
Not many will stare at the former CDS without trembling. That’s the innate disposition of that profession any way. His looks are the exact opposite of reality. He is very jovial, social and builds no fence around himself.

Tonnie Egun, a publicist and advert consultant appear to succinctly bring out the perfect imagery of the former CDS. He should not have done less. After all, he knew him from the start.
“As CDS, anytime, General Irabor was in town he always found it auspicious to spend some time with us; we proudly walked and drove through all the army security to be with him. We were recognized and respected.

“Nobody should be worried about General LEO Irabor’s reintegration into civilian society; he never left us. Even when he was the Theatre Commander at Sambisa Forest, he did not terrorize us. It is very easy and convenient to welcome him home after a meritorious service to the nation.”

Ika people are celebrating General Irabor today more because of his resonance with all shades of people in our various communities. There are so many amongst us that may not receive this gesture despite their personal growth. It is important to identify with your people. It does not cost a fortune.
General Irabor, welcome to our warm embrace.
*Eghebi is the secretary of the Events and Programme Planning Sub-committee


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