When President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff, critics raised the issue of ethnicity again, waving Buhari off as clannish. This is because, he replaced the late COAS, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, a northerner from Zamfara state with Yahaya, another officer from the same area, Sokoto.
However, Minister of Defence, Major General Salihi Magashi, argued that Buhari had, with that appointment, put “national interest above ethnic and religious chauvinism”.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri. He said Yahaya as “an organic infantry General who is tested and trusted to actualise the national aspirations to restore peace in the dark spots areas of insurgency, kidnapping and banditry as well as other allied threats to the nation’s corporate existence.”
The statement has it further: “The Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) has commended the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari for the well thought out Strategic appointment of Major General Farouk Yahaya, the 22nd Chief of Army Staff as replacement for the late Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru who died in a plane crash alongside ten others last Friday in Kaduna.
“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 competences 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 the former theatre Commander Operation “Hadin Kai” General Yahaya in sustaining the trajectory of taking offensive and aggressive campaigns to the camps, corridors and cells of the adversaries with a view to obliterating them.
“As a battle Commander with remarkable exploits and considerable experience, exposure and expertise he will be committed to the new battle plans and philosophy of Jointness among Services and other security agencies in combat which are some of the legacies of his predecessor.
“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 are in the pipeline by the Federal Government to immortalise late General Attahiru and others who died in the plane crash.
“This according to him is aimed at immortalising them and to ensure that their sacrifices as national heroes in keeping the nation safe and secured are not in vain.”