President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday appointed Major-General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff, with about 20 Generals of Regular Course 35 and 36 expected to proceed on retirement.
The new Army chief, who was appointed to replace late Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru who died in a place crash in Kaduna last Friday, alongside 10 other military officers, is of Regular Course 37.
A source said it is the tradition in the military for senior officers to take a bow whenever a junior officer is appointed a COAS, as they cannot be saluting their junior officer.
Major-General Yahaya’s appointment, right from the position of Brigade Commander to that of Theatre Commander, Operation Hadin Kai, were made by the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai (retd).
With the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, being a Regular Course 34 intake, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao both being Regular Course 35 intakes, Major General Yahaya becomes the most junior service chief as Course 37.
The implication is that about 20 Major-Generals and Brigadier-Generals made up of five remaining Regular Course 35 intakes and 15 Regular Course 36 intakes would have to give way (proceed on retirement).
The appointment of Yahaya as Attahiru’s successor, according to sources, was delayed due to search for a competent officer.
A lot of the Generals in Regular Courses 35 and 36 were found to be from the same tribe or state with other security chiefs in the Ministry of Defence, National Security Adviser’s office, the Navy and the Air Force.
For instance, one of them, Major-General Jamil Sarham, of Regular Course 36, former Commandant Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, 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.
Sources said the appointment of General Lucky Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, from Delta State, took care of South-East and South-South slot, the reason the Chief of Policy and Plans, Major-General Benjamin Ahanotu of Regular Course 35 from Anambra State was not considered for the position of COAS.
Army Chief of Operations, Major General Ibrahim Manu Yusuf, from Yobe State, was also not considered because he is from the same state as Acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, according to sources.
Prior to his appointment, Major General Yahaya was the incumbent Theatre Commander of the Counter-Terrorism/Counter-Insurgency military outfit in the North East, code named Operation Hadin Kai.
He took over from Major-General Olusegun Adeniyi as Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole on March 31, 2020, before it was renamed Operation Hadin Kai by late Ibrahim Attahiru last month.
He was General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, before his deployment to Operation Hadin Kai.
At several times, he was Military Secretary, (MS) Army at Army headquarters and Brigade Commander, 4 Brigade, Benin, as a Brigadier-General.
The new Chief of Army Staff was born on January 5, 1966, in Sifawa, Bodinga Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
He started his cadet training at NDA on September 27, 1985, and was commissioned into the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps on September 22,1990.
Major General Yahaya has held several appointments, including Staff, Instructional and Command.
Notable among the appointments held by the new COAS are Garrison Commander Headquarters Guards Brigade, Directing Staff 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 Pulo 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).
He was Director, Manpower at Army Headquarters, Military Secretary, Army Headquarters and General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army.
The new COAS is a holder of several honours and awards, some of which include Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguished Service Star, Grand Service Star, Passed Staff Course (Dagger), National Defence Course (Chile), Economic Community of West Africa State Monitoring Group Medal, Command Medal, Field Command Medal, General Operations Medal, Silver Jubilee Medal and Golden Jubilee Medal.