By Augustine Ehikioya
The first Thursday of year 2022 was a rare opportunity for Security Watch Africa’s (SWA) Team as it got the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, to speak on a number of security issues in the country.
When the SWA Team, was ushered into his office on Thursday afternoon, he left what he was doing on his table and warmly welcomed the team to his office.
Despite his tight schedule, he didn’t just granted the exclusive interview, but had time to crack some jokes with the team.
When the interview started, he spoke on many security issues in the country.
Among all the issues, the Army Chief was very passionate about the Nigerian Army outreach programmes, through which the Army implements many people-oriented projects like medical outreaches, roads and bridges’ construction across the country.
The encounter on the Civil/Military relation went thus:
*SWA*: “During the last Chief of Army Staff Conference, you directed and even personally made provisions for civil / military cooperation and assistance. Why is the Army doing this, why is the Army supporting the public? Even when you were in the field as commander, you constructed a lot of roads and built some structures. Why is the Army doing this?”
*COAS*: “I always say this is the Nigerian Army, it is the Army for Nigerians, and the personnel of the Army are Nigerians serving Nigerians.
“So whatever we can do to enhance our relationship, to enhance the welfare of our people, we do it. That is why we have a department in the Army, Department of Civil Military Affairs. The essence is for cordial relationship between the Nigerian Army and the people they serve.
“It is their money that is being used to run the Army. We are accountable and responsible. So whatever we can do to also improve them, where we can and within the limited resources that we can avail to that we will always do.
“If we improve the well-being of the people of our host communities, it is part of our job. It is part of non-kinetic activities of the Army.
“Where we stay, we do what others call corporate social responsibility to the Nigerian people. This is Nigerian Army, made up of Nigerians for the purpose of protecting Nigeria and Nigerians.
“So whatever we can do to improve well-being of Nigerians in the process of doing our job, I think it is also commendable.
“And we will also continue to do that and improve our relationship and also efforts in fighting insecurity so that well-meaning Nigerians can feel free to provide relevant information that can assist in the conduct of our job, particularly the one we are doing now.
“We need information, intelligence and cooperation. When you relate with the people, they will be willing to give you useful information. That is one of the essence of the Civil / Military Affairs Department.”
At the end of the encounter, it was clear that Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, is abreast with security situations in the country and has what it takes to tackle them.
Since the Army Chief took over the mantle of leadership in the past seven months, he has proved that he is indeed a square peg in a square hole.
Within that period, he has been able to put all strategies and dynamics in place and also handled the assignment before him in an efficient and professional way.
In that short period, he has shown himself to be a workaholic by visiting and assessing situations in all the Nigerian Army divisions, brigades and formations in the country.
Proving that the visits are not jamborees, he had instantly and on the spot given directives to tackle challenges on ground at the various military formations across the country.
During these visits, the Army Chief also exploited every given opportunity to motivate and boost the morale and welfare of troops at the various points.
Also, for instance, unlike how other top officers in his position would have marked their birthdays, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, did not mark his birthday, which came up a day before the exclusive interview, 5th January, 2022.
While others would have rolled out drums to mark their birthdays and receive various gifts including cars, Security Watch Africa gathered that as a mark of his simplicity, General Yahaya, gave a stern warning that his birthday should not be celebrated.
Not only did he rule out birthday gifts from any quarters for him, there was no sign that his birthday was marked as no single birthday card was displayed in his office when Security Watch Africa visited his office a day after his birthday.
With the warning from the Army Chief, it was gathered that most officers and well wishers, who had access to him through his mobile phone, only sent birthday wishes to his phone.
These measures and many other steps taken by the Army Chief, no doubt, have greatly reduced distractions and contributed to the successes being recorded in the fight against insecurity in the country.
More details of this encounter will be revealed on this website and other SWA channels in the coming days.