There are mixed feelings over Thursday’s appointment of Major-General Farouk Yahaya as the 22nd Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
His appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari followed the death of Lt.-General Ibrahim Attahiru, in an air crash alongside 10 other military officers in Kaduna last Friday.
Also, Blueprint gathered Yahaya’s choice was greeted with jubilation among soldiers at the Theatre Command headquarter in Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri as he was hailed while addressing the troops shortly after the announcement.
A statement by Army spokesperson, Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, said Yahaya was before now the Theatre Commander, Operation Hadin Kai responsible for counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in the North-east, a position he held since April 3, 2020.
Born on 5 January 1966 in Sifawa, Bodinga local government area of Sokoto state, Yahaya is of the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and a Masters’ Degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy.
A member of the 37 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), the new army helmsman started his cadet training 27 September 1985 and was commissioned into the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps on 22 September 1990.
He has held several appointments, including Staff, Instructional and Command.
Speaking on expectations from the new Army Chief, a security analyst, Mr Yahaya Idris told Blueprint that Yahaya would do well as COAS because he worked with two former Chiefs of Army Staff.
“Though he was appointed by General Tukur Buratai as Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, he was retained by late Lt-Gen. Attahiru because of his track record. He is one of the key military officers that executed the former Chief of Army Staff’s strategy against Boko-Haram. With him, the campaign against insurgency in the North-east was reorganised and renamed Operation Hadin Kai.
“Since his appointment as Commander of Operation Lafiya now Operation Hadin Kai, he has taken the battle to the insurgents. He is highly experienced for the job. We hope to see measurable progress in the war against insurgents and bandits.”
CSOs in mixed reaction
Also, Executive Director Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA) Ezenwa Nwangwu said the job of the new COAS was already well cut out.
Nwangwu said, “He must bring to bear his experience as senior operative in the North East to inspire confidence in the citizens in the ability of the military to confront the myriad of security challenges confronting us.
“We are looking forward to a new vista of serious and professional army that is well motivated, disciplined and nationalistic.
“He must justify the huge trust reposed on him by the president by maintaining principled, respectful engagement and coordination with other services and other stakeholders.”
But the Convener Take Back Nigeria Movement; Co-convener Say No Campaign, Jaye Gaskia said “This appointment, however meritorious, compounds the existing crisis of confidence and trust between the various peoples of the country.”
He said: “It is not only another manifestation of the nepotism and parochialism, some will say provincialism of this President and Commander-in-Chief, it is also very insensitive.
“Whatever the reasons for this particular appointment may have been, it represents at the very least, a missed opportunity to correct the perception among the general citizenry about the nepotism of the President; as well as a missed opportunity to actually address the perception of systemic exclusion by South Easterners.
“Yes it is true; such an important and strategic appointment should be made on merit. It is equally true, however, that of the 30 or so Major Generals in the Army, there are equally competent and meritorious officers from all parts of the country among this club of generals.
“So, it begs the question; why continue to make such appointments from just a section of the country? Why continue to create the enabling environment for separatist agitators to mobilise grievance?
“Why continue to give forces that are tearing us apart, fuel fires of disintegration?”
Congratulating the new COAS, Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufai described him as hard working and foresighted.
A statement issued Thursday by the state Commissioner for Internal Affairs and Home Security, Mr Samuel Aruwan said the government and people of Kaduna state, having worked successfully with the new COAS when he was the GOC 1 Division Nigerian Army, Kaduna, looked forward to working with him again to address the spate of insecurity in the state.
“The Governor of Kaduna state, Malam Nasir el-Rufai has congratulated the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff, Major General Yahaya Farouk.
“Malam el-Rufai said that he wishes newly appointed COAS every success in taking the Nigerian Army to greater heights, building on the efforts of his predecessors, including Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru of blessed memory.
“The Government of Kaduna state is elated with the appointment of Major General Faruk having worked closely with him when he meritoriously served as General Officer Commanding, 1 Division Nigerian Army, Kaduna covering Kaduna, Niger, Kano and Jigawa States.
“He exhibited hard work and foresight in helping to manage the security challenges of the state when he served as GOC.
“Governor El-Rufai has, on behalf of the people and government of Kaduna state, congratulated the new Chief of Army Staff and wished him success and God’s guidance in this onerous task.
“The Kaduna state government is looking forward to working with the newly appointed COAS to advance peace and security in Kaduna state,” he said.
Similarly, Zamfara state Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle congratulated the new army chief on his appointment, and charged him to justify his choice for the top job.
In a statement Thursday by Director General on media to the Governor Yusuf Idris, the governor said: “On behalf of his humble self, the government and good people of Zamfara state, wishes to congratulate the new Chief of Army Staff over his new assigned responsibility as the Head of the Nigerian Army.”
Matawalle described the appointment of the COAS as well deserved and designed by the Almighty.
Governor Matawalle further said: “The new COAS is very conversant with the security challenges caused by armed bandits and the governor’s humble efforts in addressing the menace through dialogue with those ready to accept peace and kinetic measures by the military against the recalcitrant one, and will join hands with the state government in tackling criminality in Zamfara”.
APC sets agenda
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) welcomed the Yahaya’s choice as new army helmsman.
A statement signed Thursday in Abuja by the party’s National Secretary of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, expressed satisfaction that the Buhari-led administration has prioritised the provision of more and advanced equipment for the armed forces.
The party said: “On behalf of the National Chairman of the Party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), H.E. Governor Mai Mala Buni, we urge the new Chief of Army Staff to consolidate on the successes recorded by the military in tackling all security threats in the country.
“This could be achieved and deepened sustainably through increased collaboration among the security services and communities. More vigilance and increased cooperation and support through sharing information can pave way for faster mopping up the remnants of the insurgents and ending banditry and kidnapping in parts of the country.
“The APC notes with satisfaction that the President Buhari-led administration has prioritised the provision of more and advanced equipment for the armed forces which has enhanced their operational capability against elements posing threats to the country’s internal security.
“A battlefield commander with considerable experience, Major-General Farouk Yahaya will as Chief of Army Staff, lead a thoroughly professional, adequately equipped and highly motivated officers and troops in their duty of protecting the territorial integrity of our country.
“We are confident that the new Chief of Army Staff will repose the President’s confidence in him by doing everything to stem the tide of insecurity. The success of the military is our collective success as a party and nation.
“The APC as an institution congratulates the new Chief of Army Staff and wish him success in his new, important and strategic national assignment.”
Take battle to enemy’s gate – Fani-Kayode
Also, fiery politician, Femi Fani-Kayode has charged the new Chief of Army Staff, Major General Farouk Yahaya to crush those behind insecurity in the country.
Fani-Kayode urged Yahaya to take the battle to the enemy as he assumes his new role.
In a tweet, Fani-Kayode wrote: “Congratulations to Major General Yahaya on his appointment as Nigeria’s new Chief of Army Staff.
“Now is the time to take the battle to the gates of the enemy and utterly crush them. Godspeed!”