…as Buhari appoints Maj. Gen Yahaya as Army Chief
President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday, appointed Major General Farouk Yahaya, as the 22nd Chief of Army Staff (COAS), six days after the death of the occupant of the exalted position, Lt-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru. Attahiru and 10 other senior officers died last Friday, after a military aircraft conveying them to the Depot Nigerian Army for the passing out of 80 regular recruits crashed, killing all occupants onboard. Until his appointment yesterday, Gen. Yahaya, who is of the 37 Regular Combatant Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), was the Theatre Commander, Operation Hadin Kai, the counterterrorism and counter- insurgency operation in the North East.
The new COAS’ appointment was contained in a terse statement by the Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu. “The Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Mohammadu 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,” the statement read.
However, there are indications that no fewer than 20 senior officers may proceed on retirement, as a fall-out of the emergence of Yahaya as the new Army Chief. Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that senior officers of the 36 regular course, who are the COAS’ senior, will have to go, to allow for absolute command and control of the Army. It was further learnt that the same fate may befall many of his coursemates, but for a few, whom the three-star General would choose to work with. Recall that shortly after assuming duties on January 26, the elevation of the late COAS had led to the retirement of all but two of his coursemates.
The outgoing Chief of Policy and Plans (COPP), Army, Maj-Gen. Ben. Ahanotu, and the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Maj- Gen. AS Maikobi, were the only coursemates left in service, after Attahiru’s appointment. Competent military sources, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said the same sequence will play out once Gen. Yahaya takes full charge of affairs. “The late Chief left behind only two of his coursemates, meaning that all others were retired, to enable him have absolute control of the Army.
“As it stands today, there are only two course 35 officers in the Nigerian Army. “Because, when he came in, he retired his seniors, as well as his mates,” one of the sources said. Asked if that scenario was likely to happen, he answered: “With certainty, yes, course 36 will go, or they ought to go. “If it’s the Army we know, they (Course 36) will all have submitted their letters of retirement today (Thursday). Because, that is the practice. “The people, who may not submit, but wait for him to tell them what to do, are his coursemates.
“Ideally, his seniors ought not to wait for him. Immediately he is coming into Abuja, they ought to have changed to mufti, and get their personal assistants (PAs) to write their letters of retirement.” There is the argument that Yahaya’s choice as COAS may have a ripple effect on other Services – the Nigerian Navy, and Nigerian Air Force. But, another highlyplaced sources said that will be further from the truth, considering the fact that they have different structures.
He said: “It doesn’t affect other Services, and that is why some seniors, who are affected, and who the Chief may not want to go, are often posted to Tri-Service like TRADOC, DHQ and others. “So, that will purely be the business of the Navy and Air Force. “For those saying it will affect other Services, ask them whether the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, as well as Chief of Air Staff, will also retire, since they are by far the COAS’ senior.” Meanwhile, a major reorganisation at the organisational, tactical and strategic levels of the Army, is imminent.
Apart from the looming retirement, it was learnt that the new army chief will effect major changes at different cadres, as part of measures to achieve his vision. Among those likely to be affected, are the General Officers Commanding (GOCs) the eight Divisions of the Army.