Okodili Ndidi and Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that he has not reneged on his promise to end Boko Haram and other forms of criminalities during his inauguration as President in 2015.
He prided that the subsequent decimation of the terror groups has shown that he kept his word.
According to the President, “I promised to put an end to 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. Consequently, I want to sincerely thank Nigerians for believing in our government in spite of occasional outrages, coming together as a nation, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations in our strive to bring this menace to an end”.
Buhari, who spoke at the official induction of Nigerian Air Force Helicopters at the Eagle’s Square in Abuja, lauded the invaluable contributions of the security agencies towards the decimation of Boko Haram.
He noted that that “professionalism, capacity building and adequately equipping the armed forces and the other security agencies are major policies of this administration”.
The President particularly commended the contributions of the Nigerian Air Force in international security, peace-keeping and humanitarian operations in the African sub region which he said has placed the country as a reliable regional power.
According to him, the intervention of the Nigerian Air Power in places like The Gambia, Guinea-Konakri, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cameroon has been a source of pride.
He said, “I’m delighted to be here this morning to once again commission two Augusta 109 Power and MI17 into the Nigerian Air Force inventory. About a year ago, we commissioned two Augusta 109 Power Helicopter Gunships, which were procured from Italy.
“The platforms were subsequently inducted into the Nigerian Air Force inventory to boost the operational capability. This was necessary to improve the delivery of promised air power in support of our counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts”.
The President added further that, “it is on record that these additional platforms have contributed immensely to the Air Force’s successes in decimation of Boko Haram insurgents. The Nigerian Air Force, since its establishment in 1964 has been playing critical roles in national security as well as in peace-keeping operations on the African continent.
“Your contributions in international security, peace-keeping and humanitarian operations in places like The Gambia, Guinea-Konakri, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cameroon has not only been a source of pride to us as a nation, but has also projected us as a reliable regional power.
“This is indeed most commendable as our Air Force, alongside other services, continues to play its unique role in the current 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.
“We promised to re-professionalise and re-equip the armed forces and security agencies, to effectively discharge their duties to our nation. I have no doubt; with the deployment of these Augusta 109P Gunships and the MI171E Helicopter will add impetus to the combat efficiency of the Air Force in combating our contemporary security challenges.
“We are committed to taking the right steps in achieving the desired results. The acquisition of these aircrafts, amongst other military equipment, despite our budgetary constraints, is an expression of our commitment. We shall ensure that every sector of our nation experiences the change that we have promised”.
Earlier in his speech, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said that in the past decade, Nigeria has had its share of horrific national security challenges especially terrorism and insurgency.
He said that the Nigerian Air Force in concert with other security agencies has confronted these insurgents and other enemies of the State to ensure that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation is not undermined.
According to him, “just five years ago, The Nigerian Air Force was facing serious challenges with an abysmal 35% aircraft serviceability status. At the same time, terrorism, insurgency and other heinous crimes were ravaging the country.
“On assumption of office, Your Excellency approves the procurement of military equipments including fighter aircraft and helicopter gunships. This visionary step has profoundly impacted positively on NAF operations”.
The Minister of Defence, Salihi Magashi, commended the President for the induction of the additional platforms for the Nigerian Air Force.
He disclosed that additional helicopter is being expected to add impetus to the ongoing war against terrorism.
The event was witnessed by the Ministers of Information, Lai Mohammed, Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Speaker of the House of Representatives, lawmakers among others distinguished guests.