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Yusuf: The man, the soldier, the General

Born on September 22, 1952, he hailed from Bara Kagoma, Jama’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Many commendations have been made about him  and…

Born on September 22, 1952, he hailed from Bara Kagoma, Jama’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Many commendations have been made about him  and his actions, both within and outside the Nigerian Army.

The Deputy Governor of Kaduna State who led the state contingent during the arrival of the deceased body described his death as “a great lose not just to Kaduna State but Nigeria and West Africa as a whole.”

He said the late General had left a vacuum which might not be filled in the history of the nation.

Also, the  Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Chris Olukolade said, “the Chief [of Army Staff, Lt Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau] received the news this morning with shock and concern. The Chief is deeply touched and saddened.”

He said  already, “the Chief has set up a team of senior officers to work out plans for a befitting receipt of the body and burial. The panel is to work closely with the family of the late COAS.”

The late Yusuf was commissioned into the Nigerian Army Artillery Corps in 1975 and was a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Course 14.

He was a Nigerian Contingent (NIGCOM) Commander under the UNAMSIL before being appointed the Chief of Staff of the Liberian Armed Forces.

Yusuf was appointed the COAS in May 2007, a position he held till August 25, 2008.

He will always be remembered for his contributions in the area of bringing peace to the troubled Niger Delta Region where he described the militants as misguided children.

He said that though the Nigerian Army has the wherewithal to deal with the milaitants, it was better for the nation to take the path of dialogue than confronting the militants in an all out offensive.

The late General also said all soldiers had the right to sue the army if they felt they had been slighted in any way and if any judgment was given in favour of the complainants, the army would abide by any court ruling.

However, what endeared soldiers to the late COAS was his listening ear to complaints by soldiers, no matter their ranks.

Already, a condolence register has been opened for sympathizers at the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Abuja.

Yusuf, while delivering his valedictory speech in September last year said, he was a fulfilled man, contrary to insinuations that he was hurt by the retirement that swept the service chiefs, except the incumbent Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike.

His words, “I am a fulfilled man, we have been able to achieve monumental feats because, compared to the last 30 years, the difference in the last one year has been immense. We set the Army on a transformation path, we beefed up training, Eagle Ex-Ring 1V 2007 and NADCEL 2008 is an attestation to this fact. In addition to several unit level trainings, preparations are currently on for others now. My appeal, however, is that the maintenance of our equipment should not be compromised.’’

He said, “we were 101 that got admission into NDA in 1973; only 67 came through two years later. Today, 28th of August 2008, I am the last man standing among the 14th Regular Course. I am an extremely fulfilled man. I am proud to have tasted battles and commanded the Nigerian Army, the pride of every soldier”.

He put in 12,898 days and approximately 307,896 working hours in the service of his fatherland.

Yusuf was very particular about the welfare of his men. “Never in the history of the Army have barracks been renovated enblock as five barracks are slated for renovation, meaning that in four years, all Army barracks in the country would have been renovated. We also made sure that our troops on peace support operations get their full allowances as stipulated by the United Nations. It has never happened before”.

He also launched the Barracks Youth Foundation for the upliftment of the teeming youngsters in the barracks.

The transformation of the Army was also cherished by the deceased officer and he put so much energy into the realisation of that dream.