Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja said the military will be re-professionalised and re-equipped to meet the growing demand for security in the country, assuring Nigerians that the promise of ending terrorism would be realised.
He gave the assurance at the commissioning of two Nigeria Air Force Agusta 109 Power Helicopters and Mi-17 E Helicopters at the Eagle Square.
The president said: “We promise to re-professionalise and re-equip the armed forces and security agencies to effectively discharge their duties to our nation.”
According to him, “professionalism, capacity building and adequately equipping the armed forces and other security agencies are a major policy thrust of the administration.”
Buhari urged the Nigeria Air Force to ensure discipline in its operations, and a strong maintenance culture that will enable the country derive maximum benefits from the newly acquired helicopters.
“I have no doubt that the deployment of these Agusta 109P gunships and the M-17IE helicopter would add impetus to the efficiency of the Air Force in combating our contemporary security challenges,” he added.
President Buhari noted that two earlier commissioned Agusta 109 Power helicopter gunships, which were procured from Italy over a year ago, had made impact on the war against terrorism.
He stated that the Nigerian Air Force and security agencies have played a very important role in peacekeeping operations, war against insurgency and other forms of criminal activities.
He said: “The Air Force contribution to security, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in places like The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea Bissau, and Cameroon have not only been a source of pride to us as a nation, but have also projected us 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 and other operations particularly in the North East and the North West where our officers, airmen and airwomen, soldiers and ratings are performing gallantly.
“I promised to unyielding confront the Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities that have bedeviled our country during my inaugural speech as president. You will all agree with me that the successes we have achieved so far have restored our pride and honour the world over.
“Let me at this point reiterate that we are committed to taking the right steps in the right direction, to achieve the desired results. The acquisition of these aircraft amongst several other military equipment despite our budget constraints, is an expression of that commitment. We shall, therefore, continue to do our best to ensure that every sector of our nation experiences
the change that we have promised the nation.”
President Buhari, therefore, appreciated Nigerians for believing in him and coming together as a nation, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations, to bring this scourge to an end.
In his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, said the purchase of the helicopters further demonstrates the administration’s commitment to bringing the security challenges in the country under control.
Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, in his welcome address appreciated the president for the contribution of his administration toward the growth of the security agencies.
According to him, the visionary approval to purchase more aircraft for the Air Force since 2015 had impacted positively on the fight against terrorism and other crimes.
He said Buhari’s administration has so far “produced and inducted 22 aircraft; the service is expecting 17 additional platforms including 12 x Super Tucanos from the United States. In addition the Nigerian Air Force, through it’s in-country maintenance capacity building programme is reactivating 3xApha jet, one M1-35p helicopter gunship. With His Excellency, the service has undoubtedly come a long way from where it was in 2015.”