By Augustine Ehikioya
The immediate past Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General, Faruk Yahaya, has maintained that he is leaving the Nigerian Army better than he met it.
Noting that the insecurity situation in the country was characterized as volatile, uncertain and complex when he assumed duty as the 22nd COAS on the 27th of May, 2021, he said many achievements are now evident for all to see, including total disarray of the adversaries.
He spoke on Friday during the handing over and taking over ceremony to the new COAS, Major General, Taoreed Lagbaja as the 23rd Chief of Army Staff (COAS). The event took place at the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Abuja. Security Watch Africa (SWA) was there.
Gen. Yahaya thanked the officers, troops, and other security agencies for their support and commitment, which contributed to the successes recorded under his tenure.
In his valedictory speech, he said “Let me state that I am truly fulfilled and delighted to remark that I am leaving the Nigerian Army better than I met it. However, as I always say, all these achievements were as a result of your commitments and dedication to duty and for this, I say thank you all and urge you to remain resolute in the discharge of your constitutional duties.”
In the North-East, he said the kinetic and non-kinetic approaches adopted have led to restoration of more peace and confidence and destruction of numerous criminal hideouts, neutralized scores of bandits and recovery of large cache of arms and ammunition.
“Our adversaries are in disarray and on the run in all fronts, and in all theatres of operations,” he stated.
Stressing that the fight against oil bunkering in the South-South has been very intense under his tenure and boosted crude oil production, he urged the officers and troops not to be discouraged.
According to him, infrastructure, welfare and medical care among others have received great attention under his tenure, while competence and morale of officers and staff is now very high.
Gen. Yahaya advised the officers and troops to remain apolitical and professional in the conduct of their assignment to improve their performances in securing the nation.
Congratulating the new COAS, he urged the officers and troops to continue to support Maj. Gen. Lagabaja in the new assignment.
Thanking God for the opportunity to serve, he expressed appreciation to the former President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing him and immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, for his purposeful leadership.
He congratulated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his success at the polls and eventually becoming the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Describing Gen. Yahaya as his mentor and boss, the new COAS, Major General, Lagabaja said that the Nigerian Army witnessed milestone transformation under Gen. Yahaya.
He called for a standing applause for Gen. Yahaya in the hall, stressing that his tenure witnessed huge purchases of equipment and massive surrendering of terrorists in the North-East, among other achievements.
He said “Our relationship dated back to NDA days and I enjoyed mentoring from him. I also served two GOCs under him and the experiences gathered will help me as the 23rd Chief of Army Staff.
“I promise to improve on your legacies for improved Nigerian Army.”
He noted that he will not hesitate to contact Gen. Yahaya for guidance whenever the need arises.
Calling for the support of the officers and troops, the new COAS said he will handle the new assignment with fairness to all and merits to be rewarded.
He thanked Almighty God and President Tinubu for giving him the privilege to serve as the 23rd COAS.
In his welcome remarks earlier, the Chief of Policy and Plans (Army), Major General Anthony Omozoje, noted that to everything there is a season and time to every purpose under heaven.
He said Gen. Yahaya’s leadership was characterized by increased capacity of the Nigerian Army, unprecedented in the Nigerian Army.
Noting that there was improvement in welfare, he said that the tenure of Gen. Yahaya was defined by openness with so much compassion and empathy for the personnel.
According to him, the new COAS and others actively contributed to the successes recorded under Gen. Yahaya.
“I have no doubt it can only get better under the incoming COAS,” he stated.
During the brief ceremony, there was symbolic endorsement of documents on handing and taking over, decoration of the new COAS with the insignia and paraphernalia of office by the Ex-COAS, and presentation of Command Flag.
High point of the event was the inspection of quarter guards, lowering and handing over of flag.
Among officers at the event are the Commandant of the NDA, and Principal Staff Officers of the Nigerian Army.