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News - Security - Thematterspress - May 29, 2021

Nigeria’s new Chief of Army Staff


Tanko Mohammed

The newly appointed Chief of Army Staff, Maj-Gen. Farouk Yahaya, on May 28, 2021 assumed the leadership of the Nigerian Army as the 22nd Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

Prior to his appointment, Maj-Gen Faruk Yahaya was the commander in charge of forces fighting terrorist groups in Nigeria’s northeast, but his mandate has expanded as the new Chief of Army Staff, beginning with a re-jig in the army.

Particularly challenging is how the 55-year-old infantry soldier would re-organise the army which is likely to lose at least 32 Major Generals who have been his senior prior to his new assignment as army chief.

Yahaya’s appointment as the new chief of army staff (COAS) by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, May 27, 2021, six days after the death of incumbent, Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru in a plane crash, drew jubilations at the headquarters of Operations Hadin Kai in Maiduguri, the Borno State.

Late Attahiru died in a plane crash along with nine other officers on May 21, 2021 in Kaduna where he was to preside over the passing out of new soldiers in Depot Army in Zaria.

Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, Acting Director, Defence Information, confirmed the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

Gen Yahaya is the incumbent Theatre Commander of the Counter terrorism Counter Insurgency military outfit code named Operation HADIN KAI.

He had served the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army.

Gen Yahaya belongs to military course 35 group, a mate of late Attahiru.

Troops of the theatre command of the war against the insurgency in the North-east jumped for joy as the news of the rise of their commander got to them.

Aside the task of re-positioning officers after the premature retirement of his seniors, Gen. Yahaya, will be faced with the task of recalibrating the Army and improving its capacity to tackle banditry, kidnapping and secession violence that had recently been giving Nigerians sleepless nights.

He is inheriting challenges such as limited funding, declining morale, doctrine lapses, threats from terrorists and armed groups as well as an escalation in the use of the military.

Gen Yahaya is a member of the 37 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy and infantry corps officer while his seniors belong to both 35 and 36 Regular course but the way out is to deploy his seniors to the to the Defence Headquarters, under the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who is of Course 34.

Yahaya who took over the command of the counterinsurgency operations in April 2020 from Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, would now be leading the oldest and largest section of the country’s Armed Forces.

Born on January 5, 1966, in Sifawa, Bodinga Local Government Area of Sokoto State Northwest Nigeria, Gen Yahaya, in the opinion of younger officers, is seen as a man known to have the welfare of the army at heart.

He was Garrison Commander, Headquarters Guards Brigade; Director at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC); Deputy Director, Army Headquarters Department of Military Secretary; Deputy Director, Army Research and Development and the Chief of Staff, Headquarters Joint Task Force Operation Polo Shield.

He also served as the Principal General Staff Officer (PGSO) to the Minister of Defence, the Commander, Headquarters 4 Brigade and 29 Task Force Brigade (Operation Zaman Lafiya).

According to analyst, his experience as commander fighting Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) will guide him in planning, strategizing and implementation of the counter terrorism.

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