- Procures 22 aircraft, expects additional 17
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari said Thursday that the federal government was committed to providing more funding and enhanced equipment for the Armed Forces and other security agencies to enable them tame the insecurity in the country.
This is coming as the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said government had so far procured 22 aircraft while 17 more were expected this year.
Speaking at the induction ceremony of three helicopter gunships in Abuja, the president said professionalism, capacity building and equipping of the armed forces were a major policy thrust of his administration.
Buhari said government was determined to re-professionalise and re-equip the armed forces and security agencies to discharge their duties.
“I congratulate the Chief of the Air Staff and all the personnel of the Air Force on this occasion of the commissioning of the Agusta 109 Power and MI-171E helicopter gunships into the service.
“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,” he said.
Buhari stated: “I have no doubt that the deployment of these Agusta 109P gunships and the M-17IE helicopter would 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 aircraft amongst other military equipment despite our budgetary constraints is an expression of our commitment.”
The president admonished officers and men of the Nigerian Air force to maintain discipline and imbibe maintenance culture in the deployment of the helicopters.
“I, therefore, expect discipline in operation and a strong maintenance culture that will enable the nation to derive maximum benefits from this acquisition,” he said.
He thanked the governments of Italy, Russia and Serbia from where the aircraft were acquired, stating that Nigeria would continue to strengthen bilateral ties with them.
“I commend the support of the Governments of Italy and the Russian Federation, in particular, efforts of the Italian and Russian Ambassador to Nigeria at sustaining the strategic partnership between our countries, which facilitated this acquisition.
“We will continue to take steps that would deepen our bilateral relations. This administration has taken concrete steps to make the investment climate as friendly as possible for foreign investors and we will strive to maintain this tempo,” he said.
He noted that “the degree of confidence of foreign investors in our country is growing and efforts are ongoing to attract more foreign investment in the non-oil sector of the economy so as to achieve the level of diversification we desire to see in our economy.”
In his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), said Buhari had done much to improve the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces.
He commended the president for tackling the daunting challenges of the Armed Forces while commending NAF for a great feat which he said was in line with the vision of the president.
Earlier in his speech, the Air Force boss said government had so far procured 22 aircraft for the Air Force while 17 more are expected in 2020.
He said the combat helicopters would be deployed in the North-east in the ongoing war against insurgency.