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Nigeria’s New Military Chief Faces Uphill Task Of Rejigging Army, Combating Terror

The new Chief of Army Staff Farouk Yahaya will be inheriting an Army battling diverse security threats and requiring improvement of operational capacity.

Farouk Yahaya, Nigeria’s new Chief of Army Staff will face an uphill task of recalibrating the Army and improving its capacity to fulfil operational mandates and tackle the threats posed by armed groups across the country. 

The Defence Headquarters on Thursday announced that Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari, appointed Yahaya, a Maj-Gen as the new Chief of Army Staff. 

He will be filling the void created by the death of Ibrahim Attahiru,  the former Chief of Army Staff who died on Friday, May 21 in an Air Force Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft crash. 

Maj-Gen Yahaya is a member of the 37 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy and infantry corps officer.

The appointment of Yahaya appears to follow the pattern of the President appointing officers with a history of commanding the counterinsurgency operations or the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting terror groups in the Northeast and Lake Chad Basin. 

Yahaya took over the command of the counterinsurgency operations in April 2020 from Major General Olusegun Adeniyi and in Feb. Air Vice Marshal Abraham Adole, an Air Force officer, was appointed as his Deputy. 

A move that HumAngle understands is connected with the new trend of repositioning military operations towards a joint posture which is also reflected in operational changes in the northwest and the relationship between tri-service chiefs.  

Tasks Ahead

The Army chief will be leading the oldest and largest section of the country’s Armed Forces with a history dating back to the colonial era and currently bearing the biggest brunt of contributing soldiers and equipment for military operations, peace and internal security operations in support of civil authorities.

The task ahead for the new Army Chief includes repositioning the Army towards effectiveness and efficiency. Nigerians and security analysts believe Nigerian troops are overstretched and are poorly equipped as they comb forest and desert fighting terror groups. 

The Army chief is inheriting challenges such as limited funding, declining morale, doctrine lapses, threats from terrorists and armed groups as well as an escalation in the use of the military. 

The service is involved in a wide range of military and internal security operations in the country’s six geopolitical zones.

Additionally, the Army has recently suffered setbacks and attrition in the Northeast after a series of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacks on bases and garrison towns. 

The region is also witnessing changing dynamics following the onslaught of ISWAP on Boko Haram stronghold of Sambisa forest which allows the group to increase pressure on the military and also extends its terror activities to new frontiers. 

Maj-Gen Yahaya will be meeting issues around human rights violations and excessive use of force, as well as low public confidence that has characterised the Nigerian Army since the war against insurgency, gained steam.

HumAngle understands that the improvement of rotation and battlefield conditions of troops (housing, psychosocial support, welfare, medical service), training, support equipment such as protected mobility, fire support vehicles, drones and doctrine are part of the essential elements for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Army.  He is expected to take a critical look into all these with the view to turn the table around for the good of the troops. 

Although the military is critical for tackling insecurity, law enforcement and socio-economic interventions are vital for stability and long term security.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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