…Says Selection Based On National Interest, Not Ethnic, Religious Sentiments
The federal government on Saturday has defended its choice of Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
While also revealing plans to immortalise the former COAS, late General Ibrahim Attahiru and others that perished in a plane crash about a week ago in Kaduna State.
Defending its choice, the government insisted that contrary to public opinion, the appointment of Yahaya, who resumed duty Friday , was based on national interest and not on ethnic and religious sentiments.
Also, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, charged the new COAS to build on the legacy of his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, who died in a plane crash on Friday, May 21.
The appointment of the new COAS on Thursday had elicited fierce criticisms from a wide spectrum of Nigerians who alleged that other more qualified senior army generals were denied the position because they hailed from the south-eastern part of the country.
Critics also argued that the office of Army Chief had been restricted to Northerners in the six years Buhari has spent so far as President and that the President ought to have shifted a bit by picking the new Army Chief from among Southern Generals in the Army, so as to give the rest of the country a sense of belonging.
Apparently reacting to the criticisms yesterday, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi said the appointment of Yahaya was strategic and was based on national interest and not on ethnic and religious sentiments.
The Minister, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri, described the new Army Chief as “an organic infantry general who is tested and trusted to actualise the national aspirations to restore peace in the dark spots and areas of insurgency, kidnapping, and banditry, as well as other allied threats to the nation’s corporate existence.”
Magashi commended President Buhari “for the well thought-out strategic appointment of Yahaya as a replacement for the late Attahiru.
With the appointment of General Yahaya, President Buhari has expediently put national interest above ethnic and religious chauvinism by fulfilling all requirements necessary. These include his unblemished track records of service, professional, command, and operational competencies among other yardsticks that culminated into his emergence as most suitably qualified new Army boss.”
The Defence Minister expressed optimism in the professional pedigree of General Yahaya, the former theatre Commander Operation “Hadin Kai”, in sustaining the trajectory of taking offensive and aggressive campaigns to the camps, corridors, and cells of the adversaries to obliterate them.
While pledging the support of the Ministry of Defence under his watch to the new Army boss in carrying out his mandate, the minister said plans were in the pipeline by the federal government to immortalise the late General Attahiru and others who died in the plane crash.
Yahaya is from Sokoto State and he was a member of the 37th Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
The choice of Yahaya, according to independent analysis, means Nigeria would lose heavy investments made on about 60 army generals from the Army Regular Courses 35 and 36, who, by army tradition, have to proceed on summary retirement as a result of the choice of the new COAS, who belongs to the course 37 set.