There are at least a dozen reasons buttressing the fact that Major-General Faruk Yahaya, the newly-appointed Chief of Staff of the Nigerian Army, is a special breed among Nigeria’s military elite. Yet, with all his accomplishments, he was never on record to have lobbied for any appointment, including the present one, or go about sabotaging his superiors to cast them in bad light and ingratiate himself to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces with a view to supplanting them.
It is said that a goldfish has no hiding place. And so, it did not take long for the then Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, to pick out Major-General Faruk Yahaya. He reposed in Yahaya tremendous trust and confidence. Under the tetulage of the 20th Chief of Staff of the Nigerian Army, whose uncountable positive achievements remain unprecedented in history, Yahaya started making his own history, serving professionally and competently. (Buratai) it was who, in his trademark quest to reward hardwork and encourage the pursuit of excellence, appointed General Yahaya as the General Officer Commanding, Number 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, based in Kaduna. In no time, that division started winessing transformative policies and projects executed all over the place.
When the then commander of Operation Lafiya Dole was showing signs of fundamental weaknesses, Buratai wasted no time in replacing the man with the focused, hardworking Major-General Faruk Yahaya. Under the strict direction of the then Army Chief, Yahaya recorded massive achievements that made life a real hell for the enemies of the Nigerian state, the terrorists.
The Cable published that data obtained from the Council on Foreign Relations shows that, from April 1 last year, when the Major-General took charge of the war against Boko Haram, till Thursday, eight days ago when he was named Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, the number of civilians killed by the terrorists dropped by 17 per cent, while the number of Boko Haram members killed shot up by 46 percent.
The data, gathered from media reports, show that 946 persons were killed by the terrorists from when he was appointed Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole till May 2021, compared to the 1,137 that died in the previous 14 months. On the side of Boko Haram, 3,122 members were killed during Yahaya’s reign, compared to the 1,449 that were killed within the previous timeframe.
Yahaya is a military general who personifies personal integrity and professional competence in all the command positions he assumed. Loyalty has also always been his mantra, and because he was genuine, troops working under his command always gave their very best, knowing that this was a commander who means the best for them, and who will push them to do more and achieve bigger results. They love the man with a passion, and Nigerians saw the manifestation of that love the day his appointment was announced, last week. Troops gathered in large number singing his praises and wishing him well.
When in April last year Boko Haram was pushing to seize the initiative from the troops of the Nigerian Army, Buratai, the then Army Chief not only appointed the right man to do the job and suppress the terrorists, he followed that up by personally remaining in the theatre of war for a long stretch, during which over a thousand Boko Haram members were neautralised in a space of a few weeks. It was at that time that Shekau, the now late leader of Boko Haram, was heard crying profusely, begging his remaining troops not to run and abandon the war. Superior fire-power from the Nigerian Army was too unbearable for him.
Brass Tacks welcomes General Faruk Yahaya to his new office and wishes him a resoundingly-successful tenure of office. In doing this, however, it is necessary we advice the new Army Chief as follows:
Firstly, he should deepen collaboration with the intelligence community, especially the Defence Intelligence Agency incidentally headed by his friend and coursemate, the diligent Major-General Sunday Adebayo, as well as the DSS and the NIA, to make the needed difference in no time.
Sadly, since the appointment of his immediate predecessor, the late Ibrahim Attahiru, the war against terror took a turn for the worse. Now General Yahaya has a grand opportunity to correct all the many anomalies that made Nigeria suffer terribly in a space of four months, and bring the war to a closure in no time.
Another thing the new Army Chief must do, if he wants an Army that is respected by Nigerians, especially the media, is to restructure the Department of Army Public Relations (DAPR). He needs to appoint a brand new director who is not given to picking unnecessary fights with media personnel that he feels were not supportive of his late boss, or who is too petty in his approach to issues. The media is an indispensable partner in winning the war, and definitely General Yahaya shall not retain anyone in the DAPR who surreptitiously blackmails his superiors, serving and retired, for no reason than personal hatred. The era when the DAPR would plant false stories against some former army chiefs should effectively now be over.
This column also reminds General Yahaya of the following achievements recorded by the 20th Chief of Army Staff, which he is already aware of. Indeed, he played a part in accomplishing many of them. He needs to retain these noble policies and even improve upon them.
By December 2015 the Army had seized the initiative from the Boko Haram insurgents. The attacks on soft and hard targets had reduced by 75 percent. This is what made the government to use the term TECHNICAL DEFEAT of the Boko Haram terrorists (BHTs). Equally, by June 2016, there were no attacks outside the North East, unlike before when BHT attacks were seen in Jos, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Suleja, Abuja amongst others. By July 2017 the incessant suicide bomb attacks had reduced by 90 percent. The years 2017 and 2018 saw the virtual defeat of the BHT.
What brought about the intermittent set backs were mainly inter-service competition (not conflict), lack of establishment of civil authorities in the recovered local government areas, low police deployment in the northeast, uncoordinated government efforts and of course the resilience of the BHT in regrouping, recruitment and re-arming.
The evolution of new tactics, techniques and procedures in the counterinsurgency operations are major achievements. The Super Camp Maneuver Concept of Operation, the Mobule Strike Teams, the production of the EZUGWU MRAP, the Motorcycle Battalion, the revival and operationalisation of the Special Forces Command, etc are all initiatives borne out of the challenges of the counterinsurgency operations.
2. Training and human capacity building:
Training and human capacity building are major factors in true military professionalism. Courses were regularly conducted. Officers and soldiers were exposed in large numbers to foreign courses. The Nigerian Army will never be the same in terms of the quality of its officers and soldiers. They can compete and excel in all international military engagements. The Nigerian Army Resource Centre is one institution that transformed the Nigerian Army (NA) landscape in terms of human capacity building. It is a pride for the NA and the country. The Nigerian Army University Biu is one of the best legacies of the 20th Army Chief, General TY Buratai.
3. Exercise: exercise is the best form of military professional training:
The introduction of realistic training exercises were among the visionary legacies of Lt Gen TY Buratai Rtd. The exercises conducted during the tenure of Lt Gen Buratai Rtd such as HARBIN KUNAMA, CRICODILE SMILE, AYAM AKPATUMA, PYTHON DANCE and SAHEL SANITY were both visionary and strategic. With the conduct of the exercise 2 major objectives were achieved. One was training of the Nigerian Army officers and soldiers in Tactics, Techniques and Procedures in internal security operations. Secondly, it also contributed to national security improvement where security challenges across the geopolitical zones of the country were addressed decisively. During the tenure of Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, the IPOB, IMN and MEND amongst others were largely checkmated. This is in addition to other counter insurgency operations. The bandits, kidnappers and separatists were also largely decisively dealt with.
4. General administration and logistics:
– Medical evacuation abroad.
– Upgrade of all Nigerian Army Level 4 Hospitals.
– Educational improvement.
– Increase in troops morale.
– Provision of uniforms was improved.
– CIMIC activities improved.
– Human Right posture of the NA the best.
– Massive barracks renovations.
– Massive infrastructural development.
– Massive lift capabilities.
– Improved procurement for the NA.
– Standardisation of NA uniforms.
5. Establishment of new institutions:
– Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command.
– Nigerian Army Women Corps.
– Land Forces Simulation Centre.
– ST Foods.
– Nigerian Army Farms and Ranches.
Surely General Yahaya is going to add to this list of unprecedented achievements, for the benefor of the Nigerian State. Accordingly, we look forward to an era free of vendetta, with the Army focussed on its constiturional responsibility and not cheap politics.
Once General Yahaya remains on the right track, our support for him in the media is assured.