President Goodluck Jonathan
By Senator Iroegbu
President Goodluck Jonathan has stated that strong, modern and proactive military is pivotal to achieving the administration’s transformation agenda especially in the face of the ongoing security and development challenges bedevilling the country.
Jonathan disclosed this Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the second Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Expo at the NAF Base, Kaduna, saying that to effectively confront and overcome Nigeria’s nagging security challenges requires unwavering patriotic commitment from all stakeholders.
He said: “Our nation is today faced with sundry security and development challenges. Effec-tively confronting and overcoming these challenges calls for the unwavering patriotic commitment of all stakeholders in the Nigerian enterprise to those ideals that will not only build bridges of harmony, but also unleash the great human and natural resource endowment which Nigeria is immensely blessed with.
“As we vigorously prosecute our administration's national transformation agenda, I expect that members of our Armed Services will continue to partner with us in the military tradition of courage, loyalty, dedication, and steadfast patriotism as we strive to reposition Nigeria for accelerated growth and development.
“We are convinced that a strong, modern and proactive military is pivotal to the attainment of the goals of the transformation agenda. It is against this backdrop that the 2012 national budget gave priority consideration to the enhancement of the operational readiness of our Armed Forces, the Police and other security agencies,” he noted.
The President also commended the efforts of the NAF leadership at modernising the youngest arm of the military service and was of the opinion that with the trend of things, the Air Expo is set to dominate the continent but wear a global status.
“Given the diversity and calibre of participants (at the 2012 NAF Air Expo) one can conclude that the air exposition is acquiring a global status,” he said.
He disclosed that the military and NAF in particular were given priority in the 2012 budgetary allocation for training and modernisation in order to ensure it effectively performs its strategic role in national development.
“As part of our commitment to enhancing the capacity of the Nigeria Air Force in particular, the Federal Government has, in the last few years, substantially funded fleet enhancement. I am glad to note that the results of our efforts are steadily becoming visible with the induction of brand new aircraft and reactivation of some existing ones,” he said.
Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar said that the idea of the Air Expo is anchored on the need to continually seek innovative solutions to the ever evolving national and global challenges especially at the aviation and security sector.
Umar noted that through the exposition, the Air Force is realizing its role as a major catalyst for development in Nigeria and as well create a forum through which global players in the aviation and defence industry could exchange ideas.
He said: “Our aim is to seek out every foreseeable and available knowledge and technology that would facilitate the attainment of our primary goal-that is, securing and protecting the territorial integrity of our dear nation from the air, while at the same time providing a platform for dissemination of such knowledge and technology in a manner that would ensure the economic growth and development of the country in particular and West Africa sub-region in general.”
“Within the constraints of available resources, the NAF has continued to discharge its responsibilities to the nation especially through its contribution to the maintenance of internal by the employment of air power either singly or in concert with other sister Services and security agencies”.
Other dignitaries at the event includes the host and Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa, Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, other service chiefs, Inspector General of Police and Service Chiefs of over 15 countries amongst others.