8 April, 2014
The Federal Government has granted approval to the Nigerian Air Force to acquire more fighter jets and helicopters in the ongoing campaign against terrorism and insurgency in the country.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, disclosed this during a press briefing on the forthcoming 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Nigerian Air Force in Abuja on Tuesday.
Amosu said the Federal Government had also made provision to the authorities of the Air Force to upgrade existing platforms in order to put the service in a better position to carry out its statutory security responsibilities.
He said a major challenge of the Nigerian Air Force was obsolete equipment some of which, according to him, were acquired at inception. He said the leadership of the Air Force had adopted innovative approach to ensure effective upgrade of the old
equipment as Nigeria was not the only country whose Air force had to contend with the problem of aging equipment.
He said the Air Force under his leadership would soon showcase the
new aircraft being acquired for the service by the Federal Government.
He said, “Over the years, the Nigerian Air Force has grown from a small service with few platforms to one with over seventeen aircraft types and still growing. “Indeed, recently, the Federal Government approved the acquisition of new fighter aircraft and helicopters for the Nigerian Air Force as well as the upgrade of some of our existing platforms to enable the service perform its role…
“The challenge the Nigerian Air Force is facing today as we clock 50 today is obvious.We have been on for 50 years;some of the platforms that we have are as old as the Nigerian Air Force. “That is why we decided to, kind of say;‘let us introduce innovative approaches to fixing these old platforms.’ We are achieving a lot.
“We are not the only nation that is saddled with old platforms. What you do is you upgrade regularly, upgrade the system, we are already doing a lot in that regard. “The Machines, the Federal Government is giving us what is required to get them going. But again, we need to thank the Federal Government.
“Arrangement is in place to raise for us new platforms. Very soon we will be showcasing the new platforms that have been acquired for us.”
Major dailies had earlier reported that the ongoing campaign against
insurgency was being hampered by obsolete military hardware in use. It was reported that the Armoured Personnel Carriers, the Alpha Fighter Jets, the MIG Fighter Jets and the helicopter gunships that were being used in the ongoing fight against the insurgents were acquired between 1979 and 1982 by the Alhaji Shehu Shagari regime.
Amosu who also spoke on the challenges facing the Air Force in the ongoing campaign against the insurgency in the North East identified the unwillingness of the citizenry of the affected areas to
volunteer necessary information on the activities of the insurgents. He said if adequate information was made available to security operatives, the task of stabilising the North East would have been concluded.
However, he said the citizens had started showing some concern with some changes taking place which were indicative of the restoration of the confidence of the people.
Speaking also on the call by some northern leaders against the extension of the Emergency rule in Borno,Yobe and Adamawa states, which is expected to expire by April 19, 2014, the CAS said there were variables that could prevent the security forces from achieving their targets in the fight against terrorism.
He said the security agencies were putting in their best and would require the cooperation of the citizenry to ensure speedy conclusion of the campaign against the insurgents.
“The main challenge is that of the citizens not giving information, we need the cooperation of the citizens; this is a war that all Nigerians are encouraged to participate; we need information,with information, perhaps we would have concluded the whole activities of stabilizing the North East.
“But I believe that the citizens are equally concerned, we are already
seeing some signs. Once we get those information as we ought to have, you will see the changes that would take place. For now, I want to really thank Nigerians, we are really getting information, the confidence is gradually coming back,” he said.
The CAS also said the Air Force had some hints before the attack of its base in Maiduguri and took steps to execute a defence plan for the formation, which prevented people from being killed. He said the Air Force couldn’t carry out air strikes because of the need to avoid killing the very people that they were deployed to protect in Maiduguri.