Air Force declares readiness for security challenges, all-out war on Boko Haram in Sambisa Forest
Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 4 December 2016 | 1,623 times
The Nigerian Air Force on Saturday declared its readiness to decisively deal with any security threat and to launch an all-out war on Boko Haram insurgents hold up in Sambisa Forest, Borno State.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this during a media chat held at the Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre and Suites, Abuja.
He explained that over 700 personnel have been sent to the world to acquire skills so as to be efficient and effective in discharging their duties. He added that the Force has expanded its system of retraining and increased from 500 to 2,000, to its personnel, with provision of rooms, books, writing aids while the Federal Government has also been supportive.
Sadique disclosed that the available 13 aircraft and some Helicopter gunships in Yola, State Capital of Adamawa, were provided for under the present administration which are now being reactivated and used for fighting.
He added that the Air Force is battle-ready to move into the Sambisa forest, saying: “We now watch for 48 hours to soften the ground before moving.”
TheAir Chief emphasised the need for the besieged communities to collaborate with the Force so that the mission on security could be ultimately achieved.
Said he: “We need the communities to give us adequate information on the activities and hide-outs of the Boko Haram insurgents, and that was why we established medical services in the Maiduguri Base. We also have Internally Displaced Persons Emergency hospitals in Bama.
“Also, we have conducted a lot of medical outreach programmes in the bases so that they can assist us to get vital intelligence and information. We have settled the communities welfare services and provided additional schools for their boys and girls.
“We introduced agricultural programmes in four bases including Yenagoa, Kaduna and Ikeja, to assist the youths and encourage them.”
While highlighting that the personnel are not being trained to protect only their bases but also airports across the country, he said there was a need for research and development in coming up with innovative ideas on how to build fighting equipments in Nigeria as well.
He said: “We had already signed MOU with five Nigerian universities which has cost us over N5 million.”
When asked whether Air force personnel are able to man or not the aircrafts, an action which had been perceived to have caused a lot of disaster, Sadique debunked the speculations, saying that “Nigeria has the most competent pilots because they have undergone adequate training with a stringent curriculum. We are giving them the right skill required.”
He also shed light on the purchase of aircrafts, saying a lot of politics are involved.
According to him, “It takes four months to even get spare parts of the aircraft let alone the whole aircraft.”
While commending the gesture of President Muhammadu Buhari on the recent release of the airplane to Air Force, Sadique opined that “the airplane was used to rescue the 48 Chibok girls in the night in Borno before they were brought to Makurdi and finally to Abuja.”