From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The federal government on Thursday inducted three brand new JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircrafts into the inventory of the Nigerian Air Force as part of activities marking its 57th anniversary.
The feat was said to be in fulfilment of one of the promises the President made at the beginning of his administration to improve the infrastructure and equipment dispositions of the Armed Forces.
‘It is indeed fitting that the grand finale of this year’s celebration is being marked with the induction of 3 brand new JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft into the inventory of the Nigerian Air Force,’ said the Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi, who represented the President at the event at the NAF Base in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
The latest addition, he said, reflects how the Service has continued to grow in stature and capability over the past 57 years, while developing competencies to achieve its constitutional mandate of defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity by air and dealing with the security challenges facing the country.
‘This induction ceremony is also most rewarding to me because it marks another step in the fulfilment of one of the promises I made at the beginning of my administration, to improve the infrastructure and equipment dispositions of the Armed Forces and other security agencies to enhance their output, professionalism and service delivery.’
He expressed the optimism that the three JF-17 Thunder fighter ground attack aircraft being added to the inventory of the Nigerian Air Force, would boost the operational capacity of the Service and add significant impetus to the fight against terrorism, insurgency, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the country.
While noting that the Nigerian Air Force, since its establishment in 1964, has been playing critical roles in nationals security as well as in peace-keeping operations on the African Continent, the President said the Service’s contributions in internal security, peace keeping and humanitarian operations in places like The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cameroon have not only been a source of pride to the Nation, but has also projected the country as a reliable regional power.
‘This is indeed most commendable as the Nigerian Air Force, alongside other Services, continues to play its unique role in the counter-insurgency operations in the North East and anti banditry operations in the North West and North Central as well as other operations in other parts of the Country, where our officers, airmen and airwomen, soldiers and ratings are performing gallantly.’
He lauded the resilience of the Nigerian people who have continued to resist all negative elements that seek to divide the people with their destructive rhetoric and disingenuous propaganda.
‘I wish to use this opportunity to encourage all law-abiding citizens to continue to stand together, irrespective of ethnic, tribal, religious or political affiliations, to pursue the greater goal of a secured, united and prosperous nation for us and our generations yet unborn, as we have no other alternative than to do this.’
President Buhari commended the Chief of the Air Staff as well as the officers, airmen and airwomen for not only remaining at the forefront of the fight against all enemies of the country, but also for the various laudable initiatives embarked upon to bridge capacity and capability gaps as well as enhance infrestructure in the Service and explore Research and Development for improved self-reliance.
The highpoint of the ceremony was the induction of the JF-17 Thunder aircraft into the service of the Nigerian Air Force as NAF 720, 721 and 722 by the President.
Earlier, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, said the three newly inducted fighter aircrafts brought the number of new aircrafts inducted into the NAF in the last six years to 26.
‘Let me place on record that under the current administration the NAF has inducted 23 brand new aircrafts into it’s inventory from 2015 till date.
‘The induction of the three JF-17 Thunder aircraft brings the total no of new aircrafts inducted to 26. These aircrafts have significantly boosted our operational effectiveness in the fight to fldrfeat all threat to the nation and it’s citizenry,’ Amao said.