He spoke during an interview on Arise TV on Thursday.
Buhari said Yahaya was appointed ahead of his superiors because of his experience fighting Boko Haram in the North-east.
The president also explained the choice of Yahaya was because he had the support and understanding of the Nigerian troops.
“People who have been there for 18 years or even for 10 years, they trained in Zaria or in Abeokuta, they come through the ranks.
“And because they served under all the circumstances, the crises and everything and they gradually rise to that status and you think you just pick somebody just to balance up? These positions have to be earned,” he added.
Until his appointment, Yayaha was the Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, the counter-insurgency operation in the North-east.
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