Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has replaced the heads of the Nigerian military, the police force and the intelligence service, four months before presidential elections- leaving pundits guessing over the politically-minded move.
President Jonathan has promoted the former head of the air force to chief of defense staff and named new air force, army and navy chiefs. He also appointed new heads of the Nigeria Police Force and the State Security Service.
President Jonathan has given no reasons for the reshuffle, but some analysts believe it is in connection with the forthcoming national elections.
The president has not said whether or not he will stand in the elections scheduled for January, but every move he has made in the last months has been envisaged as a strategic one with the January 2011 elections in mind.
Nonetheless, the replaced heads of the military, police and intelligence service were due for retirement.
And president Jonathan’s new appointees are subject to approval by parliament.
President Jonathan only became president following the untimely death of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Some media reports suggested that Nigeria’s northern power-brokers agreed to let President Jonathan formally become acting president only because he was not seen as a threat – and crucially would not seek to contest the election due in 2011.
But his latest move in replacing top, military, intelligence and police chiefs has been perceived by pundits as an attempt to consolidate his political powers.