By Abubakar A. Nuhu-Koko
The recent rejigging of the nation’s national security apparatus that involved changing the nation’s Service Chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police by President Muhammadu Buhari did not come to Nigerians as a great surprise. Before the change was made there were numerous calls by some concerned Nigerian pressure groups and individuals on the need to effect a major revamp of the military top hierarchy and other arms of the national security structure for want of improvement in efficiency, efficacy and morale among the armed forces, the Police and other supporting national security services.
President Buhari finally yielded and bowed to these mounting pressures to undertake a major review as demanded by concerned forces and arrest the deteriorating situation on the ground. The major focus of the change of guards in the armed forces was to provide new direction and strategies to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency, predominantly in the North Eastern corner of the country, and other pockets of armed rebellions and rural banditry across the country.
The unfortunate incidents that happened soon after the appointment of new the service chiefs was the death of the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, in an air crash involving a Nigerian Airforce aircraft conveying him and ten other senior army officers and crew at the vicinity of Kaduna International Airport on 21 May 2021.
Upon this tragic accident, a new COAS, in the person of Major General Farouk Yahaya, was appointed to replace the late Lieutenant-General Attahiru on 27 May 2021 by President Buhari. Prior to his appointment as the new COAS, Major General Yahaya was the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army and the incumbent Theatre Commander of the counter terrorism counter insurgency military outfit in the North East code named Operation HADIN KAI (OPHK) – formerly known as ‘Operation LAFIA DOLE, that is responsible for counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in North East Nigeria, with its headquarters in Maiduguri.
Following this development, the need also arose to appoint a new Theatre Commander for the OPHK. The gavel fell on Major-General Christopher Gwabin Musa who in the recent past, similarly served under both late Lt. General Attahiru and Lt. General Yahaya respectively, in the North East Theatre of operation against the Boko Haram terrorists.
The new Theatre Commander of OPHK, Major General CG Musa, took over the mantle of leadership with the assurances, “that very soon, the Boko Haram insurgency will come to an end within the shortest possible time.” He made the remark while taking over the command on Friday, June 18, 2021. Similarly, the COAS, Lt. General Faruk Yahaya, also charged troops in the OPHK theatre to be decisive and alert in the fight against Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram terrorists in North Eastern Nigeria.
As earlier mentioned, one striking note to take into consideration in the appointment of Major General CG Musa by the COAS is the fact that both of them once served together at the Joint Task Force Headquarters in Maiduguri. 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, while Major General CG Musa is a member of the 38th Regular Combatant Course and was commissioned into the Infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army on 21st September 1991. However, another striking note of shared experience and affinity is that both Lt. General Yahaya and Major General CG Musa grew up in Sokoto State in their formative years before joining the Nigerian Army.
For instance, General Yahaya is an indigene of Sokoto State; born on 5 January 1966 in Sifawa, Bodinga Local Government Area of Sokoto State, an outskirt settlement less than thirty kilometers (30Km) away from Sokoto metropolis (The Seat of the Caliphate). While General Musa is an indigene of Kaduna State (from Zangon Kataf area), most of his childhood life was in the city of Sokoto. He attended the prestigious and famous Federal Government College, Sokoto (one of the second generation of Nigeria’s Unity colleges). This makes him a member of the largest, prestigious and most influential Nigeria’s Unity Schools Old Students’ Alumni Association (USOSA), comprising all of the nation’s more than one hundred (100+) federal government owned Unity Schools spread across the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
This therefore, in addition to being a General in the Nigerian Army, makes him one of the strong pillars of Nigeria’s unshakeable unity in diversity; coming from two national institutions for the promotion of national unity in diversity. With this backdrop therefore, his assignment to provide leadership of the OPHK is not only appropriate, but equally a patriotic and timely one, indeed. It is against this backdrop that one can further commend the COAS, Lt. General Yahaya, for his foresight and resolve to bring an end to the over a decade long Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast.
Among the numerous positions General CG Musa has held in the Nigerian Army since his commissioning in 1991, are the following: He served as the Commandant Depot, Nigerian Army, Zaria. On December 14, 2018 General CG Musa was redeployed from the Operation LAFIA DOLE theatre, where he was serving as the Second in Command, to Army Headquarters (AHQ), Department of Projects and Programmes (AHQ DPP), and appointed executive director, Nigerian Army Farms and Ranches Limited. It was from the Army Farms and Ranches that he was moved to the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja as a Directing Staff, from where he was once again, redeployed back as the new Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai.
Therefore, the combined pedigrees of Lt. General Yahaya and that of General CG Musa show that they are not only well trained soldiers but, equally, well experienced and exposed to Boko Haram terrain of operation and capable generals that the Nigerian Army High Command and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have confidence in their ability, capacity and integrity to prosecute the war to its logical end within the next few months given the necessary support and encouragement from all and sundry.
For instance, from the month of June, 2021 to the first week of August, 2021, Operation OPHK, under the indefatigable and dynamic leaderships of both Lt. General Yahaya and his field commander, General CG Musa, hundreds of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) and elements of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) have either been neutralized by the combined efforts for the first time, of the Nigerian army and Nigerian air force, or surrendered themselves together with their families and weapons to the Nigerian Army and or captured by the gallant Nigerian Army and other security services. Now the message has not only been brought to their door steps, but also loud and clear, without turning back until the last terrorist is neutralized and or, under intense fire power, surrendered and normalcy restored all over the battlegrounds and across the country.
Major General Yahaya was confirmed by the National Assembly as the COAS on Tuesday, 22nd June, 2021 and on July 7th, 2021 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General by President Muhammadu Buhari. The newly promoted 4-Star general in an answer to a question posed to him by a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) State House reporter about the progress thus far in the war against the Boko Haram terrorists provided a very powerful answer thus: “Many bandits have been sent to God to answer for their crimes.”
The general was attesting to fulfillment of the statement made much earlier by PMB that those fomenting trouble in Nigeria will be dealt with “In the language they understand!” Hence, it is not surprising to see that in the last few weeks, beginning from the first week of August 2021, several Boko Haram field commanders, their disciples and families have either being wiped out, captured and or are voluntarily surrendering themselves with their families and weapons to the Nigerian Army and other security operatives.
This is the beginning of the end of the more than a decade old insurgency that consumed thousands of lives and resources on both sides and made hundreds of thousands of victims encamped and sheltered in Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs) under horrendous conditions of social wellbeing. Indeed, General Yahaya and his able generals are here to bring an end to the over a decade old Boko Haram terrorism in the Northeast and other armed conflicts and restiveness elsewhere in the country. The nation’s prayers and solidarity are with our armed forces and security services in this onerous national patriotic task. May God bless All.
Abubakar A. Nuhu-Koko, a researcher in petroleum policy and economics, is founder and pioneer executive director, The Shehu Shagari World Institute for Leadership and Good Governance, Sokoto, Nigeria. He can be reached on +234 706 330 6887 or firstname.lastname@example.org