PROFILE: Lieutenant General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor
Lieutenant General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor, who hails from Awka in Anambra State, was born on 18 February 1951.
He started his career with the Nigerian Army in 1973. Attending the Nigerian Defence Academy and several other military training institutions in Nigeria and abroad, he graduated from the prestigious National Defence College (then National War College) in Abuja, Nigeria. He susbsequently earned a Master of Science degree in strategic studies from the University of Ibadan also in Nigeria.
From 1996 to 1997, he served as the Commander of the Artillery Brigade of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia. In 1997, he was the ECOMOG Chief Coordinator of the Liberian elections.
He was later appointed General Officer Commanding, Second Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army in Ibadan. He subsequently held the position of Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, in charge of the welfare, discipline and medical services for all Nigerian army personnel. In December 2005, he was promoted Lt General.
On 5 December 2005, General Obiakor was named by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Reviewing his two-and-a-half-year tenure as UNMIL’s top military official, he once told the UN News Service that one of the biggest challenges he had to deal with was securing Liberia’s borders with its neighbours, which was particularly important since, as he noted, “all the problems of Liberia had always started from somewhere outside”.
Taking on that challenge, he negotiated joint border patrols between Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea. Just before he left the mission, he also facilitated border patrols between Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea, led by the UN peacekeeping force in the former (UNOCI), and then between Guinea and Sierra Leone. It was also during his tenure at UNMIL that an all-female Indian police contingent arrived in Liberia – it was the first time such a unit was deployed in a UN peacekeeping mission, and its success has since encouraged the deployment of similar units elsewhere.
On 28 May 2008, Obiakor was appointed, by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as Military Adviser for all United Nations peacekeeping operations worldwide. The UN notes that at the time he assumed office, “peacekeeping numbers and responsibilities” were “at an all time high”. It said General Obiakor was “tasked with providing advice on all military issues in the context of UN peacekeeping, which now deploys more than 110,000 men and women in conflict zones worldwide”.
In that capacity, Obiakor further wrote himself into history as the first ever military adviser to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to also hold the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.
He served in that position until 2 September 2010 when he was succeeded by Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye of Senegal. The UN Secretary General noted that his exit was: “the culmination of two particularly busy years which saw the establishment of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as well as the emergency operations linked to the Haiti earthquake”.
At his retirement from the Nigerian Army on 24 June 2011, Obiakor had become the longest serving General in the Nigerian military in recent memory (He was a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s Course 10, while the current Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika came eight years later as a member of Course 18).
He went into retirement sharing with the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, the distinction of being the highest officer of the Nigerian military to have served under the United Nations system.
Gen Obiakor has been happily married to Mrs Meg Nnenna Obiakor for 35 years and the marriage is blessed with children.
Posted on June 26, 2011, in EXECUTIVE POLICY AND ACTION, MILITARY SERVICES and tagged Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group, Lieutenant General, Lieutenant General Chikadibia Obiakor, Martin Luther Agwai, National Defence College Nigeria, Nigerian Armed Forces, Peacekeeping, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sierra Leone, United Nations Mission in Liberia. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.