By Segun Olaniyi, Terhemba Daka (Abuja) and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)
President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured the Armed Forces that his administration will continue to fund and equip the military to effectively tackle challenges of insecurity in the country.
Buhari stated this at the unveiling of two Agusta 109 Power and MI-171E helicopter gunships for the Nigerian Air Force infantry yesterday at the Eagle Square, Abuja.He expressed hope that the deployment of the new helicopter gunships would help in suppressing the activities of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers in Nigeria.
“It is noteworthy that professionalism, capacity building and adequately equipping the Armed Forces and other security agencies are a major policy thrust of this administration.“We promise to re-professionalise and re-equip the Armed Forces and security agencies to effectively discharge their duties to our nation.
“I have no doubt that the deployment of the Agusta 109 Power gunships and the Mi-17IE helicopter would add impetus to the combat efficiency of the Air Force in combating contemporary security challenges.
“We are committed to taking the right steps in achieving the desired results. The acquisition of these aircraft among other military equipment despite our budgetary constraints, is an expression of our commitment,” he stated.
The President, however, commended the Italian and Russian governments for providing the helicopters, adding that Nigeria would continue to deepen its bilateral relations with both countries..He enjoined officers and men of the Nigerian Air Force to ensure that they make discipline and maintenance culture their watchword to enhance the use and lifespan of the helicopters.
Speaking, Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, said the purchase of the helicopters had further demonstrated the administration’s commitment to tackling the security challenges in the country.On his part, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the approval to purchase more aircraft for the Air Force since 2015 had impacted positively on the fight against terrorism and other crimes.
Meanwhile, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Muhammadu Abubakar, former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Usman Bugaje and other Northern leaders have blamed the lingering security challenges on government’s failure to act decisively.
They stated this, while reviewing the security challenges in the North and entire country, shortly after setting up a security monitoring committee to proffer solution to insurgency and kidnappings in the region.
At the inauguration of the Northern Security Monitoring Committee under the Bugaje-led Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP), no fewer than 42 prominent Northern academics, former military leaders, ambassadors and others were named committee members.
Abubakar insisted that the Buhari-led government was not doing enough to find lasting solution to the crisis, adding that Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and kidnappings, have turned the country into a killing field and creating more orphans, widows and widowers in the country.
Besides, Secretary of the Jamatu Nasril Islam (JNI), Sheikh Abubakar Aliyu Khalid, while condemning Federal Government’s inability to end the security challenges, attributed the crisis to the “clueless nature of the leadership”.
However, Dogara, who was Chairman of the occasion, lamented that the North has become the epicenter and theater of violence.He said from Boko Haram ISWAP-led Albarnawi, Boko Haram led by Shekau and Ansaru insurgency to farmers and herders’ conflict, banditry, kidnappings, ethno-religious conflicts and cattle rustling, Nigeria was being confronted with unprecedented crisis in the nation’s history.