The Federal government 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 died in a plane crash recently in Kaduna State.
Defending its choice, the Federal Government insisted that contrary to public opinion, the appointment of Yahaya, who resumed duty on Friday, May 28, was based on national interest and not on ethnic and religious sentiments.
The appointment of the new COAS 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 he 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, 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.
In the meantime, 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.