President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, appointed Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff, one week after the death of the previous 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, in charge of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
The arrival of the new COAS may, however, influence 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 enclosed 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 robust indications that his appointment would lead to the retirement of no less than 25 major generals, who were his seniors.
In accordance with the 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.
The new COAS was the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna before his deployment to Operation Hadin Kai.
It was learnt that the appointment of Yahaya, who is from Sokoto State, was a bit delayed on the grounds that the President was trying to weigh the ethnic and religious factors in appointing a new COAS.
A source stated, “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 of Yahaya.”
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