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Gen. Yahaya: Building a Responsive Nigerian Army Amid Insecurity

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Gen. Yahaya: Building a Responsive Nigerian Army Amid Insecurity

So far, he has proved to be the perfect and fitting replacement for the celebrated, revered and iconic Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai (rtd), Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Benin.

But what are the things that make Lt. Gen. Faruq Yahaya tick? They are numerous. Some persons will readily point to his being the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, as the cardinal reason.

As for those who truly, and indeed, know the Sokoto State-born Army Chief, his cheaquered military career, that has spanned over 37 memorable and glowing years, and still counting, is.

Born on January 5, 1966, Lt. Gen Yahaya, became Nigeria’s 22nd COAS following his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari on 27 May, 2021.

He succeeded the then COAS, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru. Attahiru, had died in a Beechcraft King Air 350i plane crash near Kaduna International Airport.

Justifying why he went for Gen. Faruq Yahaya as the new COAS, President Buhari, maintained that soldiers in the frontlines know him and that he is used to them.

Buhari said, “Do you know you can’t be the Chief of Army Staff because of seniority? You have somebody who has been on the frontlines. He fought there. They know him”.

At his first meeting with the army leadership after taking over in June last year, Lt. Gen. Yahaya, unveiled his vision for the Nigerian Army, which is building “A PROFESSIONAL NIGERIAN ARMY READY TO ACCOMPLISH ASSIGNED MISSIONS WITHIN A JOINT ENVIRONMENT IN DEFENCE OF NIGERIA”.

The Army Boss, (then) said his vision is channeled towards defeating all security challenges presently confronting the Nigerian Nation in collaboration with sister services and other security agencies.

On his mission, the COAS said he will command the NA to win all land battles in defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria, protect her national interests and accomplish assigned tasks in aid of civil authority among other responsibilities.

Yahaya, further pledged the unalloyed commitment and loyalty of the NA to the President Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces while assuring all officers and men of exemplary and professional leadership that would serve as a rallying point for all.

Upon assumption of office, Gen. Faruk Yahaya, swiftly and brilliantly effected internal reorganization of the Army.

He awesomely and fascinatingly repositioned the best hands in strategic positions to make the CTCI operations smoother and much more effective.

Thus, another crack soldier, Major General Christoper Musa emerged the new Theatre Commander of “Operation Hadin Kai”.

Musa, it must be said, has been professionally and diligently leading and coordinating numerous military units in the counter insurgency operation in the Northeast region.

Gen. Faruk Yahaya, no sooner than he assumed office, expediently conducted familiarization visits of Nigerian Army units and formations round the country.

The visits, among several other things, raised platforms where he obtained firsthand information on the challenges and constraints of soldiers in the performance of assigned duties.

Thereafter, the leader of CTCI operations proceeded on operational tours, to military formations.

At every point of his operational tour, the Army Chief’s overriding concern and frank message to troops centered on ending the prolonged terrorism and banditry wars in the country.

Yahaya is one COAS that is angered within, singularly because the Boko Haram war over prolonged.

So, while on an operational visit to troops in the frontline from Sector 2, Joint Taskforce under “Operation Hadin Kai,” Damaturu, Yobe State, for instance; Gen. Faruk Yahaya reiterated; “We want to conclude this operation in the Northeast; so that we can do other things; and that is the drive now.”

Conspicuously leading from the trenches, the COAS is a roving warmonger like his troops. He knows, very well, that his physical presence in the warfront is an elixir, tonic and morale booster on troops.

Therefore, he has devoted all his time and energy to terminate these the incendiary wars on Nigerians in every part of the country.

It is apt to aver that Nigerian troops have been consistently reminded of this inviolable obligation to their fatherland by Gen. Yahaya, and are also supported in all feasible ways to accomplish this task.

Fighting insurgency, without gainsaying, is a collective agenda of all Nigerians. The Army Chief, right from the onset, has defined a role for every Nigerian of godly conscience.

Gen. Yahaya: Building a Responsive Nigerian Army Amid Insecurity

So, interestingly, apart from courting the support of military units, formations, battalions, Forward Operational Bases, Gen. Faruk Yahaya has enlisted the cooperation and support of host communities, sister agencies, traditional rulers and various categories of professionals, including the individual on the street, with a view to ending the reign of insurgencies and insurrections.

So, it is not surprising that Nigerians are experiencing the gains being recorded by the Nigerian Army and other sister agencies in CTCI operations, in recent times.

Again with Gen. Faruk Yahaya as captain of the army ship, our crestfallen Nigerian troops have regained their lost high morale.

And the amazing results have started manifesting abundantly, with the renewed resilience of troops in the frontlines.

“We have been recording some modest success in all areas, and we intend to sustain that drive,” the Army boss was quoted to have declared to some troops in the Northeast, while on operational tour.

In many beautiful ways, the command style of Lt. Gen. Yahaya, has upscaled Nigerian Army operations and enhanced its operational successes, since he came on board as the 22nd COAS.

The Army Chief upon assuming office on May 28, 2021 encapsulated his command philosophy anchored on four cardinal pillars: Professionalism, Readiness, Administration And Cooperation.

Again, Gen. Yahaya, barely few days after his appointment, immediately swung into action, as he undertook his maiden operational visit to the Headquarters Operation Hadin Kai.

During the inaugural visit, he charged army troops to sustain the onslaught against Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists.

The motivation elicited by Yahaya’s maiden visit, it must be noted, upscaled the operational disposition of troops in battle with tremendous exploits, that resulted in the neutralisation of high profile terrorist commanders and their foot soldiers.

Additionally, and immediately after the COAS’ inaugural trip to the North East, kinetic and non kinetic activities in the theatre have led to mass surrender of fighters and recovery of combat equipment, which has substantially degraded the terrorists fighting capability.

This spelt doom for the terrorists who lost some of their notable commanders, such as Abubakar Shekau and Musab Al-Banarwi, among other operational commanders.

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Although, Nigerians have been witnessing the surrender of quite a number of Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) terrorists in the past, the current surrendering posture in droves signposts the leadership direction Lt. Gen. Yahaya has provided to the Nigerian Army, with the cooperation of other Services.

The above-highlighted operational feat clearly attests to the pragmatic leadership of the COAS, who has at various times traversed the theatre landscape shoring up troops’ fighting will and motivation to subdue the adversary.

No doubt, the recent successes the dynamic and charismatic Army Chief has recorded, have led to increasing public confidence on the counter insurgency operations, culminating in the mass return of Internally Displaced Persons to their ancestral homes.

Gen. Yahaya’s feats as COAS have also, and significantly restored, in Borno State, socio economic activities, particularly farming and commerce, which hitherto were the mainstay of the economy of the North East region.

The Army Chief is remarkably doing well, equally, in terms of providing robust welfare packages provided for troops in the theatre.

For those who may not know, Yahaya has been in all fronts, leading with remarkable strides in the area of massive infrastructural developments across Nigerian army formations and units.

In less than a year in office, the COAS has so far attended to welfare needs of troops, ranging from housing to logistics as well as operational requirements.

In an opinion editorial published on Vanguard newspaper of August 14, 2021, David Onmeje, affirmed strongly that Gen. Yahaya has patriotically chosen the path of honour to end the reign of Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists, armed bandits and other twilled insurgencies across the country.

  Gen. Faruk’s three months shadows on the theatre of insurgency wars and insurrectional violence have demonstrated another strong avowal to the termination of all insecurities in Nigeria.

According to Onmeje, a United Kingdom-based Nigerian social commentator, the COAS’ soldier- persona, his career records, experiences and mastery of the art of war clearly betray his multiple unknown ingenuities, as an outstanding soldier of his generation.

He said: “When he served as the commander of “Operation Lafiya Dole, the renamed headquarters of the theatre of operation, Maiduguri by March 2021, members of ISWAP terrorists ambushed his convoy.

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“The unfortunate incident occurred at Garin Kuturu village between Auno and Jakana towns along the Maiduguri—Damaturu highway. But Gen. Faruk Yahaya courageously fought back gallantly and assumed the terrorists merely bruised the lion’s tail.

“It emboldened him ferociously in the next few days, and the terrorists experienced serial exterminations by Nigerian troops.

“The COAS is a soldier of a few words; but his real worth abundantly reflects in sustained actions on any assignment until he achieves rewarding results. He is a brilliant and calculative military combatant, who is never distracted by any force, once his mindset is fixated on anything.

“He is another rare breed soldier, who leads by example and infinitely humane, but brutal on the battle turf like his recent predecessors.”

Continuing, Onmeje, added: “It is this mien in Gen. Faruk Yahaya that spurred spontaneous jubilations in the Nigerian Army, especially from troops in the theatre of war, when news of his appointment as the COAS and leader of the CTCI operations in the country by President Muhammadu Buhari broke out.

“For instance, in Maiduguri, the now main base of “Operation Hadin Kai,” soldiers immediately erupted in pulsating jubilations because of Gen. Faruk’s famed reputation of having welfare of troops at heart.

“Soldiers generously confessed that Gen. Faruk’s ignores gossips or backbiting on matters of welfare of his troops, and remits all legitimate earnings of any soldier to the beneficiary and demands reciprocity of the gesture by actions in the frontlines.

“And three months down the lane, Gen. Faruk Yahaya has delightfully and pleasurably proved his mettle as a soldier and leader worth his onions in the counter-terrorism combats.

“Nigeria can widely attest to the eternally inordinate ambitions of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists to extract and appropriate to their indiscernible caliphate, the territories of Nigeria.

“But these terrorists and bandits have met a cul-de-sac in Gen. Faruk Yahaya, who is more determined, sweltering and fiercer on the battlefield.

“He is noted for his warfare intensity, which analysts say, dwarfs the prime efforts of his predecessors. He is a finer replica of his ex-bosses.”

In Onmeje’s words, also: “A factcheck on his leadership of the counter-terrorism operations absolutely displays confounding winning streaks against the armed gangs and enemies of Nigeria.

“From terrorists, to bandits, armed secessionists, ethnic and religious militias, extremists and militants, Nigeria is cruising on the crucible of total and irrevocable victory under the leadership of COAS Yahaya. The songs of victory resonate in the South, and louder in the North.

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“If its possible to recount episodic chants of victories against the conspiratorial armed gangs, terrorizing Nigeria, these past years, one only hears of neutralization of terrorists and bandits by the Nigerian Military; hundreds surrendering together with their families to the Nigerian Army or we hear of bandits and terrorists camps ransacked by Nigerian troops in different parts of the country.

“News such as soldiers freeing Boko Haram hostages previously held captive; Army arrests of amazing number of Boko Haram terrorists; bandits abandoning kidnapped victims scurrying for safety only to meet their waterloo from either ground or air forces or Nigerian troops and troops repelling planned terrorists attacks on villages or towns.

“In these three months, both national and international media seldomly scream with news headlines of the killings, gores, pains, sorrows and agonies of victims of terrorism and banditry.

“Ostensibly, the new Army Chief is living up to his calling, by leading from the front in the trenches. He knows the path to success and he is following the standards set by his predecessors, by proving himself as a dependable officer.

And expectedly, the most sensitive favour Nigerians expect from Gen. Faruk Yahaya is to to sustain the winning tempo until the final whistle is blown. All Nigerians are bound by a patriotic obligation to their country to support the new COAS as he leads the troops to the final victory for Nigeria.”

On his part, Uba Sanni, a public affairs analyst, the Nigeria Army is lucky at this particular time in the history of the country to have a head that don’t just believe in the unity of the country, but is doing everything to preach it.

In piece titled, “Faruq Yahaya (COAS): Preaching unity, showing love,” Sanni noted that since his appointment as COAS, General Yahaya has continued to preach need for Nigerians to unite to restore peace and security in the country.

The COAS recently described Nigerian civil war as an unfortunate tragedy that shook the foundation of national unity.

“He (Yahaya) however noted that the reconciliation afterwards was a healing balm as well as instrumental to strengthening national unity,” he said.

According to Sanni, the Nigerian Army Chief is taking his message of peace and unity to different segments of the country, irrespective of tribe and religion.

He said: “As part of the activities to commemorate Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2021, the COAS took his message of unity, peace and love to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church, Mogadishu Cantonment, Abuja.

“It was the first time a Chief of Army Staff who is a Muslim joined the Christian counterparts at the interdenominational service as part of activities to mark the 2021 Nigerian Army Day Celebration.

“The visit to the Church demonstrates the COAS determination to carry all along. It further demonstrates what Nigerian Army represents, a symbol of unity in diversity and purpose.

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“The COAS pointed out that the message he is passing with his presence at the Inter-denominational service is that the military operates as a single unit.

“As he is preaching unity, love and peace, the COAS is also making sure several communities across the country benefit from the Nigeria Army humanitarian services.

“As part of activities marking the 2021 NADCEL, the Nigerian Army (NA) conducted medical outreaches across the country.

“It was conducted in Mpape community, Bwari Area Council in Abuja, Eti Osa (Lagos), Borno, Enugu etc. According to the COAS, the Army also finds time to carry out Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) at intervals.

“The message is that the Nigeria Army is in safe hands with Farouq Yahaya at the helm of affairs. Nigerians must support the NA and the entire military to continue to uphold the unity of the country.”

Similarly, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Lantech Solutions Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Husseini Bokane, the nation will forever remain greatful to President Buhari for appointing not just a professional of gun battle and field battle, but for placing competency ahead of all other considerations to replaced late Gen. Attahiru with another thoroughbred military officer that is currently keeping the mindless groups to their knees.

He said: “Alexander the Great is regarded the best Army General in his own time and to us here in Nigeria, it is Lt. Gen. Faruk that is defined by this virtues having giving his all for his country to survive. He (Alexander the Great) once said that, He is not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep but he is afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.

“Nigeria has been battling with insecurity challenges for quite sometime, ranging from the Boko Haram insurgency, bandits and kidnapping for ransom, farmers and herders conflicts and secessionist agitations, but there is a significant reduction in the carnages since COAS Yahaya took over.”

According to Bokane, the most unique factor that makes Gen. Yahaya most exceptional is his ability to blend the kinetic prowess of the nation military with the ability of winning the hearts and minds of the people.

“Sun Tzu the Chinese General, military strategist and philosopher who described a successful commander as that who is ruthless in the field of operation yet meek at heart with members of the community where he was deployed.

“The Chief of Army Staff having served as a theatre Commander in the North East has mastered that military leadership skill and today more successes are recorded in the nation’s counter fight against insurgency and banditry in Northern Nigeria.

“In the North East region, Yahaya has streaks of conquests over Boko Haram terrorists, whose greatest wish had always been to bring down the entire North East done to its knees.

“His distinguished career in the military is very much known to the Nigerian people particularly communities that were under security sieged prior to his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff.

“Time and pages of newspapers will not be enough to accommodate Yahaya’s pragmatism , achievements and formidable leadership traits.

“He has dedicated his life to displaying hard work, dedication and commitment in the discharge of his duties since his commissioning into the Nigerian Army.

As for Philip Agbese, a publisher and human rights law researcher based in the United Kingdom, Lt. Gen. Yahaya, one of Nigeria’s finest breed of trained infantry combatants has a rich profile and experience in counter-terrorism combats.

“Until his elevation in appointment as COAS, Gen. Yahaya’s service records were synonymous with military excellence globally.

“He was deep into the forests of the theatre of war in the Northeast, functioning in the capacity of Theatre Commander of the renamed Counterterrorism and Counter-Insurgency military outfit code-named “Operation Hadin Kai” (OPHK), literally meaning “cooperation” in Hausa vernacular”.

Agbese, in an opinion piece wrote that, “It is indubitable that in the last six years, the Nigerian Army has dealt a fatal blow on incensed Boko Haram insurgents, ISWAP terrorists, armed bandits and other allied cross border armed criminal gangs who have delighted in terrorising parts of the country.

“And with the confusion and infighting in the camps of Boko Haram and ISWAP, coupled with the assured sustained pressures mounted on these terrorists by troops, the coming of Gen. Yahaya as the new COAS holds every significance in finally blighting the menace of all forms of terrorism in the country.”

In the article titled, “PMB’s knack for merit and the Farouk Yahaya challenge,” the human rights law researcher, said that Gen. Yahaya, who parades many meritorious service medals and awards, is definitely a shining Army star in warfare.

In his words: “Farouk Yahaya is an Army General generally honed and polished by the finest of senior Military officers, home and abroad, who are experts in anti-terrorism warfares.

“Prominently, Gen. Yahaya is an ardent adherent of the leadership school of thought of His Excellency, Ambassador TY Buratai, the retired Army General, who served Nigeria as COAS and leader of the counter-insurgency operations from 2015-2021.

“Nigerians have recognized Gen. Buratai as a courageous, fearless, determined, patriotic and loyal professional soldier, who broke the many jinks of terrorists when he served the country.

“He made them breathless at all times and even military experts have seen his fearless shadows in Gen. Yahaya. There is no gain contradicting the reality that the new COAS is a tested hand in the theatre of war.

“President Buhari is famed for the knack of going for the best brains in appointments, especially in sensitive areas.

“The choice of Gen. Farouk Yahaya as the COAS has also confirmed the President’s principle and doctrine of impeccable credentials, merit and excellent performance above any other consideration.

“Apparently, there is no disputation that Gen. Yahaya would not only excel in his new assignment, as an officer who has been part and parcel of the anti-insurgency campaigns in Nigeria.

“But also, security experts have vouched on his competence to surpass the excellence of his mentor, Gen. Buratai by breaking new records in the prosecution of Nigeria’s renamed counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.

“However, and observably, the appointment of Gen. Yahaya means many things to different Nigerians and spurted varying dimensions of national discourse.

“But the dormant and inescapable feature of these perceptions in the public psyche is the trust and convictions in the professional competence and dexterity of the new COAS to finally blight the fires of terrorism in Nigeria.

“For those versatile in security issues, Gen. Yahaya’s emergence is one of the best appointments that Mr. President has made since the beginning of the year. Anyone who thinks otherwise should contest this assertion.

“As someone who has served as GoC and later, Theatre Commander in the Northeast, mandating Gen. Yahaya now to lead the war against the insurgents in Nigeria justifies and fills any imagined vacuum in the anti-terrorism combats.

“Nigerians, particularly, troops in the frontlines are expecting Gen. Yahaya to immediately restore the suspended Army core values, which sustained counter-insurgency operations.

“These include the return of all quarterly exercises, development of a versatile Intelligence gathering network/ instruments, sustenance of the apolitical posturing of soldiers and a tough deal and decisive warfare expeditions against all armed criminal elements across the country.

“Nigerians are assured that with the known records of professional competence identified with Gen. Yahaya Farouq, the country is on the sure path of the final defeat of terrorists.

“The Army warmonger would certainly make Nigeria proud because he is sure prepared to deliver on the task which Nigerians have elected him to do. Nigerians wish him and his team good luck, as they anxiously await the victory and trophy of triumph against terrorists”.

In just less than a year after Gen. Yahaya’s appointment as COAS, Nigeria has been ranked sixth in the 2022 global terrorism index (GTI), an improvement from the fourth position it was since 2017.

In the GTI, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), an independent and non-profit think tank, Nigeria, Syria and Somalia were the only countries among the 10 most impacted by terrorism to record an improvement in score from 2020 to 2021.

“Total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 448 in 2021, the lowest level since 2011,” the report said.

The report stated that “terror-related casualties dropped by almost half compared with the previous year.

Lt. Gen. Yahaya, a graduate of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Armed Forces Command and Staff College, and Nigerian Army School of Infantry, commenced his officer cadet training on 27 September, 1985.

He was commissioned into the Nigerian Army Corp of Infantry as a Second Lieutenant on 27 December 1990. The COAS holds a master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy.

Until his appointment as Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Yahaya was the Theatre Commander, ‘Operation HADIN KAI’. He was responsible for Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency operations in North East Nigeria.

One of Nigeria’s finest senior military officers in the annals of the history, the COAS, needless to say attended all the relevant courses commensurate to his career, which include, Young Officers Course, Infantry, Company Commanders Course, Infantry and Commanding Officers Course.

Yahaya, also attended Junior Staff Course, Senior Staff Course and National Defence College amongst other, as well as several workshops and seminars.

He held several command, instructional and staff appointments which include Platoon Commander 181 Mechanised Battalion and 82 Motorised Battalion.

He was also a Company second in command at 81 Guards Battalion and 20 Amphibious Battalion.

Others are Guards Brigade Garrison Commander, 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 Chief of Staff, Headquarters Joint Task Force Operation PULO SHIELD.

The COAS, at some points in his military career, also served as the Principal General Staff Officer (PGSO) to Honourable Minister of Defence, Commander, 4 Brigade and 29 Task Force Brigade (Operation ZAMAN LAFIYA).

He was also Director Manpower, at the Army Headquarter; Military Secretary, Army Headquarters; and General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, in Kaduna State.

A highly-decorated Army Chief that is married and blessed with four children, Lt. Gen. Yahaya holds several honours and awards.

They include, Nigerian Army Medal, Grand Service Star, Passed staff course Dagger, National Defence College (Chile), Field Command Medal of Honour, General Staff Medal of Honour and several other numerous medals, honours and awards.

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