Adelani Adepegba, Solomon Odeniyi, Kayode Oyero and Godwin Isenyo
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday appointed Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff, one week after the demise of the former COAS, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 others in a plane crash in Kaduna.
Until his appointment, Yahaya was the Theatre Commander, Operation Hadin Kai, responsible for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
Yahaya’s emergence may however spell the end of the careers of about 25 major generals who were of the Regular Course 35 and Regular Course 36.
Yahaya’s appointment was contained in a statement by the Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu.
The statement reads, “The Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff.
“Prior to his appointment Major General Yahaya was the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army and the incumbent Theatre Commander of the Counter Terrorism Counter Insurgency military outfit in the North East code named Operation Hadin Kai.”
On Thursday, there were strong indications that his appointment would lead to the retirement of no fewer than 25 major generals, who were his seniors.
According to military tradition, the new COAS, who is of Course 37 is junior to these officers and cannot superintend over them.
Yahaya is also junior to the other service chiefs as the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor is of Regular Course 34 Intake; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, both being Regular Course 35 intakes.
Yahaya was the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna before his deployment to Operation Hadin Kai.
It was gathered that the appointment of Yahaya, who is from Sokoto State, was a bit delayed because the President was trying to weigh the ethnic and religion factors in naming a new COAS.
A source said, “The President finally settled for Yahaya because many of the Generals in Regular Courses 35 and 36 were found to be from the same tribe or same state as other security chiefs in the Ministry of Defence, National Security Adviser’s office, the Navy and the Air Force.
“For instance, Major General. Jamil Sarham, of Regular Course 36, former Commandant Nigerian Defence Academy is from Kano, where the Minister of Defence, Major General. Bashir Magashi (retd.) and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, hail from.
“From all indications no fewer than 25 major generals from courses 35 and 36 will leave the force with the appointment Yahaya.”
The source also cited another contender to the top military position, the Chief of Policy and Plan Maj. Gen. Benjamin Ahanotu of Regular Course 35, who is from Anambra state which shares boundary with Delta state where the CDS hailed from.
The COAS was born on January 5, 1966 in Sifawa, Bodinga Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
He started his cadet training at the NDA on September 27, 1985 and was commissioned into the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps on September 22, 1990.
Notable among the appointments held by the new COAS is Garrison Commander Headquarters Guards Brigade, Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Deputy Director Army Headquarters Department of Military Secretary, Deputy Director Army Research and Development and the Chief of Staff, Headquarters Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield.
Yahaya’s profile looks good for new post – ACF
Meanwhile his appointment has generated different reactions. The pan-Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, through its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Thursday, that the profile of the new chief of army staff looked good for an exalted position.
But a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the President’s refusal to appoint a COAS from the South-East showed that he did not believe in the unity of the country.
Brig-Gen. Bashir Adewinbi (retd.), in an interview with one of our correspondents advised the new COAS to focus more on the fight against banditry, terrorism and kidnapping among others. ,,