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Fear of massive retirement grips officers as army gets new chief

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Following the appointment of Major-General Farouk Yahaya, who is of course 37 as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), retirement is currently dangling on 30 Army Generals who are members of courses 35 and 36 of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).

In the military tradition, if a junior General is appointed as the army chief, Generals who are his seniors are retired.

President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday, named Yahaya, who hails from Sokoto State as the replacement for the late Army Chief, Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru.Attahiru and 10 other military officers died last Friday in a plane crash, while on an official trip to Kaduna.

The victims had since been buried in line with military tradition.The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, while announcing the appointment in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja said the President named Yahaya to pilot the affairs of the Nigerian Army.

“The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff.

“Prior to his appointment, Major General Yahaya was the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army and the incumbent Theatre Commander of the Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency military outfit in the North East, code-named Operation HADIN KAI,” the statement read.

Shortly after the announcement of Yahaya’s appointment, sources in the Nigerian Army told Daily Trust that the appointment might force not less than 30 Generals in regiment Course 35 and 36 to retire.

The announcement put to rest, the speculations that Buhari might appoint the incumbent Army Chief of Policy and Plans, Major General Benjamin Ahanotu, from Anambra State as Attahiru’s successor.

While late Attahiru was a member of Course 35 alongside Major General Ahanotu and one other officer, not less than 28 members of Course 36 including Maj.-Gen. Sagir Yaro, who was recently appointed as the Commandant of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), may also be affected.

Speaking to Daily Trust, a military source explained that the new COAS was senior to eight officers of Course 36 having been promoted to the rank of Major General in September 2017.‘Some generals might be retained’

It was gathered that although many of the senior officers might retire, the new COAS might assemble some of them considering the need to tap on their experiences in the ongoing counter-insurgency campaign in the North-East.

“Course 34 has gone; the late COAS was course 35. Thirty generals may be retired; two of them are of course 35 while 28 of them are of course 36. But the new COAS may retain some of them. He would use his discretion. He would want his coursemates to be around him. Some may be posted to the defence headquarters,” the source stated.

-Who is Major-General Yahaya?-

The new COAS, Major General Yahaya was born on 5 January 1966 in Sifawa, Bodinga LGA of Sokoto State.Major General Yahaya who is a member of the 37 Regular Course of the prestigious Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), started his cadet training on 27 September 1985 and was commissioned into the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps on 22 September 1990.

He had 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 Honourable Minister of Defence, the Commander, Headquarters 4 Brigade and 29 Task Force Brigade (Operation Zaman Lafiya), Director Manpower at the Army Headquarters, Military Secretary, Army Headquarters and General Officer Commanding (GOC) Headquarters 1 Division of the Nigerian Army.

Until his appointment as the COAS, he was the Theatre Commander Operation HADIN KAI responsible for Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency operations in North-East Nigeria.

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