Army Chief: Tribal, Regional Factors May Delay New COAS Appointment

Barely 72 hours after the death of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru in a plane crash, there is a political dilemma over the region and likely tribe of the person that could be appointed for the Nigerian Army’s top job.

PRNigeria gathered from competent and knowledgeable sources on the ongoing appointment that government seems to be in a fix.

This is because some touted people on the list happened to come from the same States or tribes of current occupants of other military and security Chiefs, making it difficult for the government to make an urgent decision on Attahiru’s successor.

Attahiru and 10 other military officers died in a plane crash on Friday, during an official visit to Kaduna State.

Some retired senior security officers who are politicians are also putting pressure on the presidency to consider seniority, competence, merit and war experience and jettison ethnic and sectional sentiments in picking the next COAS.

A retired military officer with vast intelligence background, told PRNigeria that socio-political factor may likely play a role in the choice of the candidate for the Army Chief job.

He, however, said Mr. President wields the discretion to pick anybody of his choice.

“Those being touted as late Attahiru’s successors are eminently qualified on account of their vast qualifications, professional discipline, instructional appointments, service command, operational experiences, and above all managerial capabilities. They are suitable, but political consideration of regions, states and tribes may likely be some of the determinant factors.

“For instance, one of the latest names being pencilled down is Major General Jamil Sharham, originally of Regular Course 35 but running RC 36 seniority. He was the Sector Commander, Operation Restore Hope in the Niger Delta, and Brigade Commander at Baga in the North-East. Before he was appointed Commandant National Defence Academy (NDA), he was Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Infantry and GOC 6 Division. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at NIPSS,” the retired military officer said.

Investigation by PRNigeria revealed that the major dilemma in the choice of Sharham is the fact that he is from Kano State, where the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, hails from.

A similar dilemma on tribe may play out since the present Chief of Policy and Plan (COPP), Major General Ben Ahonatu is an Igbo, like the current Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor, though they are from different but neighbouring states of Anambra in South-East and Delta in South-South respectively.

General Ahanotu of Regular Course 35 and very fluent in Hausa. He was the Military Commander that captured the founder of Boko Haram, late Mohammed Yusuf and his followers, at their hideout in Maiduguri in 2009 before handing them over to the Police.

Similarly, the Army’s Chief of Operation, Major General Ibrahim Manu Yusuf is from Yobe, the state of the current acting Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba.

Gen Yusuf of Regular Course 37 was former Force Commander, Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF) and General Officer Commanding 7 Division. He also taught at Nigerian Defence College (NDC), Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), and the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre (NAPKC), Jaji.

Last Saturday, unconfirmed reports claimed that Major General Danjuma Ali-Keffi, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division Nigerian Army, Kaduna, was appointed as COAS.

However, PRNigeria gathered that General Ali-Keffi was not among the more than 30 most senior military officers in the Nigerian Army.

Another officer being touted is Major General AM Aliyu of Regular Course 36 from Gombe State. He is the Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army and former Director, Foreign Liaison, at the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). He was responsible for processing actionable intelligence for military operations in recent years.

Another officer being mentioned is Major General Faruk Yahaya of Regular Course 37 from Zamfara State. He is the current Theatre Commander Operation Hadin Kai in the North-East and former General Officer Commanding of 1 Division.

PRNigeria further gathered that there are other senior operational officers worthy of considerations because of their rich experience in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.

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