From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
The Nigerian Army has launched a special welfare flights programme to airlift troops in the frontline of counterinsurgency operations to designated cities whenever they are on leave.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, while flagging off the airlift exercise at the Nigeria Air Force base Maiduguri on Monday, said the programme is to ensure troops in the theatre of operation in the North East travel to see their families with ease.
‘Travelling by road out of the theatre has been sometimes problematic and with its associated challenge. So we want troops when they are on two weeks pass to go freely to see their families and return freely,’ the army chief disclosed.
He said the welfare of troops was the priority of the army authority under his command. He said he wants troops on casual leave (pass) to go home safely and return to the frontline safely.
The army chief said the aircraft which would take many passengers at a time was provided by the Air Force as part of the synergy among the armed forces. He urged officers and soldiers to emulate such synergy in their formations, adding that the Nigerian Army would continue to work with other sister security agencies in the country.
He said troops on trips will be searched and documented before departing the theatre.
Army Chief of Operations Maj Gen Olabanji Akinjobi said the initiative was a landmark, explaining that the operations will be done twice a month to three hubs – Lagos, Abuja and Maiduguri
He said existing Nigerian Army facilities in the designated cities will be used for the airlift exercise. Personnel are expected to arrive two hours ahead of departing time, he said.
The flag off was attended by the Air Officer Commanding, Tactical Air Command, Makurdi, Air Vice Marshal IG Lubo.