President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration remains unyielding in confronting the Boko Haram insurgency as well as other forms of criminality that have bedevilled the country.
Mr Buhari stated this on Thursday at the virtual induction and inauguration of newly acquired Nigerian Air Force, NAF, MI-171E helicopter, two reactivated Alpha jets and one L39ZA aircraft, all belonging to the NAF.
According to the president, his administration has boosted the capacity of the NAF by 23 new aircraft in recent times with more still on the way.
He said: “On our part, we will continue to support you in any way we can to help you become more effective in the execution of your mandate for the safety and security of our country.
“Today’s induction brings to 23 the number of brand new aircraft that have been added to the inventory of the NAF since we came on board in 2015 and is a clear reflection of our unflinching commitment to ensuring the security of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“These 23 new aircraft are aside the 15 additional aircraft, including 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States of America and three JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Fighter aircraft from Pakistan that have been procured and will soon be delivered,” the president said.
According to him, these are aside support toward reactivating more than 25 erstwhile unserviceable aircraft “significantly boosting the capacity of the Service to deliver robust air power in support of our counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts.”
The Nigerian leader said he had released two Agusta 101 helicopters from the Presidential Air Fleet to the NAF to improve the latter’s tactical lift capability.
He also commended the security forces for the successes recorded so far, especially by restoring “some level of stability not only in Borno and Yobe but also in Adamawa.
“Consequently, I want to sincerely thank Nigerians for believing in us and coming together as a nation, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations, to bring this scourge to an end,“ he said.
Mr Buhari highlighted critical roles of the NAF in internal security, as well as international operations:
“It is noteworthy that our Air Force has since its establishment in 1964 been playing critical roles in national security as well as in peace-keeping operations on the African continent.
“Her contributions in internal security, peace keeping and humanitarian operations in places such as 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 has also projected us as a reliable regional power that has helped stabilise other nations and stood firm in defence of democracy.
“This is indeed most commendable as the NAF, 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, as well as other operations in other parts of the country where our officers, airmen and airwomen, soldiers and ratings are performing gallantly,” the president noted.
In his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, urged the NAF to abide by the maintenance schedules of the aircraft to enable the nation to get the best out of them.
“President Buhari since assumption of office, prioritised national security at the top of his agenda and part of it is reequipping the Armed Forces to enhance their operational effectiveness,” he noted.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, assured the President of the “unalloyed loyalty of the NAF and its readiness to relentlessly work for the protection of the country”.