Bashir Magashi, minister of defence, says President Muhammadu Buhari considered national interest above ethnicity in the appointment of Faruk Yahaya as the new chief of army staff.
The president had appointed Yahaya, a major-general, on Thursday to replace Ibrahim Attahiru, the army chief who died in a plane crash.
Before his appointment, Yahaya was the theatre commander of the counter-terrorism military outfit in the north-east which is code-named operation Hadin Kai.
Some critics had accused the president of been biased with the appointment. But Magashi, in a statement through Mohammad Abdulkadri, his spokesperson, said Yahaya was appointed based on merit and his track records.
“He is an organic infantry general who is tested and trusted to actualise the national aspirations to restore peace in the dark spots and areas of insurgency, kidnapping, and banditry, as well as other allied threats to the nation’s corporate existence,” he said.
“With the appointment of General Yahaya, President Buhari has expediently put national interest above ethnic and religious chauvinism by fulfilling all requirements necessary. These include his unblemished track records of service, professional, command, and operational competencies among other yardsticks that culminated into his emergence as most suitably qualified new army boss.”
The minister commended Buhari “for the well thought-out strategic appointment of Yahaya as a replacement for the late Attahiru.”
He also said he is confident in Yahaya’s capability in sustaining the trajectory of taking offensive and aggressive campaigns to the camps, corridors, and cells of the adversaries to obliterate them.
The minister, while pledging the ministry’s support for the new army chief, said plans were underway by the federal government to immortalise Attahiru and others who died in the plane crash.