Appraising Lt Gen Yahaya’s approach to counter-insurgency

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By Moses Adamu

The name Farouk Yahaya has been consistent with counter-insurgency operations for several years but in the background. Recall that before he was appointed the Chief of Army Staff, he was once the Theatre Commander Operation HADIN KAI, responsible for Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency operations in North East Nigeria.

It’s on record that during his stint, the counter-insurgency operations of the Nigerian Army in North East Nigeria received a tremendous boost with a tangible feat achieved in addressing the threats posed by the Boko Haram insurgents.

I also recall that upon his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff, there was palpable jubilation amongst officers and soldiers across army formations across the country, describing him as the long-awaited messiah to lead the Nigerian Army to more remarkable exploits.

You wouldn’t be wrong if you labeled him the counter-insurgency expert. His career in the Nigerian Army has seen him constantly hold sensitive operational positions critical in addressing security challenges in the country.

For example, he was at a time Garrison Commander Headquarters Guards Brigade, Commander, Headquarters 4 Brigade and 29 Task Force Brigade (Operation Zaman Lafiya) and General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, amongst others.

You can take his gentle looks for granted. But behind the gentle mien is a tough and highly disciplined officer who does not believe in impossibilities. His work ethic is also infectious, so much so that officers and soldiers that have served under his command would attest that with General Faruk Yahaya, its work and more work until the aim is achieved.

He is a thoroughbred officer who has mastered military strategies as a military historian. His penchant for joint military operations is also legendary, as evident in the seamless collaboration between the Nigerian Army and other sister agencies since he assumed office as the Chief of Army Staff. This, in my opinion, is mainly responsible for the numerous feats recorded in the joint military efforts to address the country’s security challenges.

I believe that General Faruk Yahaya has written his name in gold as far as the Nigerian Army is concerned. His approach emphasizing professionalism is noteworthy, and Nigerians can again be assured of a highly professional fighting force dedicated to preserving the country’s territorial integrity.

In an interview granted by President Muhammadu Buhari on the choice of General Faruk Yahaya as the Chief of Army Staff, the president stated that he had led war and was used to the frontlines. “You have somebody who has been on the frontlines. He fought there. They know him.”

I totally agree with the president’s position, and indeed his choice of General Faruk Yahaya was strategic. The result is what we see today in the prosecution of the war against insurgency and other acts of criminality across the country.

He hit the ground running in the counter-insurgency operations of the Nigerian Army in North East Nigeria, and the results have trickled in torrents to the chagrin of the Boko Haram insurgents and their sponsors. This, in my opinion, is a masterstroke and indeed what is needed from those saddled with leadership positions in the country.

General Faruk Yahaya’s leadership strides remind me of General Collin Powell’s famous quote: “The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your example they will follow.”

This is the situation of things in the Nigerian Army, where officers and soldiers have been exemplary in their conduct. The war against insurgency has recorded tangible success. Joint military operations have taken centre stage, and gone is the era of one service taking the glory at the detriment of collective efforts.

World War II veteran Dick Winters once said, “I may not have been the best combat commander, but I always strove to be. My men depended on me to carefully analyze every tactical situation, maximise the resources I had at my disposal, think under pressure, and lead them by personal example.”

This can be said of General Faruk Yahaya since his appointment as Chief of Army Staff. He has displayed a great sense of patriotism and commitment to leading the Nigerian Army at this critical point of our existence. The officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army have caught the Faruk Yahaya bug. The exemplary conduct of officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army has consequently elicited commendation from various stakeholders.

Recently, the Chief of Army Staff at the Third Quarter COAS Conference 2022 commended the Nigerian Army field commanders and troops for their operational successes in various theatres of operation across the country. He also stressed that offensive operations in the Northwest and North Central geo-political zones have intensified at the event.

The catch for me was his emphasis on enhancing training and injecting more manpower and game-changing equipment into all theatres of operations. That is the quintessential Faruk Yahaya, whose tenure as Chief of Army Staff has recorded tremendous success in a short period. And the commendation has continued to come in, recognizing his invaluable contributions to addressing the security challenges in the country.

General Faruk Yahaya is a rare breed whose passion for the job knows no limits. I am convinced that one day, his story will be told in brilliant prose when Nigeria’s history of counter-insurgency operations is mentioned.

Adamu wrote this piece from Maiduguri.

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