House Committee Backs Air Force in Fight against Militancy in Niger Delta

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The House of Representatives Committee on Air Force has stated that it would give the desired support to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in its role in the fight against insecurity in the Niger Delta region and the country in general.

 The Chairman of House Committee on Air Force, Sampson Okwu, made the assertion yesterday when he led members of the committee on an oversight visit to the 97 Special Operations Group (97 SOG) Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

 Okwu stated that the committee was in Rivers and Bayelsa States to assess the readiness of the NAF in the fight against insecurity.

He said further that federal government’s effort in the fight against insecurity in the country, especially pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region, required proactive steps.

His words: “It is important to state at this juncture that the ongoing efforts by the present administration to stop pipeline vandalism and all other forms of vices in the country, call for a very proactive, well-equipped and dependable air force.

 “Much is expected of the Nigerian Air Force in the attainment of this objective and  the committee will stop at nothing in rendering necessary support to the force in that regard.
“Let me assure you that the House of Representatives is irrevocably determined to support the NigerianEmmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia

Leaders from the southern part of the country yesterday gathered in Umuahia, Abia State Captial and beamed their searchlight on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and its polices and actions, which they said were inimical to national growth and unity.

The leaders who came from the three geopolitical zones of the south under the aegis of Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) said they were worried about the style of leadership of President Buhari and the way the country has continued to drift
Chief Mbazulike Amechi, who stood in for the coordinating Chairman of the SNPA, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, set the tone of the deliberations when he addressed the meeting of the elders council and management committee.

“We are going to look at the government we have today, whether it is a government of the federation or a government of a section of the country,” he said, adding that the deliberations would be exhaustive given the myriads of problems buffeting the nation.
Amechi, who was Nigeria’s first aviation minister, said all the issues that affect the South needed to be x-rayed and solutions proffered in order to build a united prosperous Nigeria where justice and equity shall reign.

According to him, the issues that the leaders would focus attention in their deliberations include kidnapping, herdsmen attacks, restricting of the nation, agitations in the Niger Delta and other parts of the South, collapsing economy, ongoing corruption war, growth or decline of democracy in Nigeria.
He regretted that the threat to the unity of Nigeria was still rife and there were no concerted efforts to address the issues that continuously make it so difficult for Nigeria to attain true nationhood.

Chief Edwin Clark, who led the delegates from the South-south zone, said that the leaders would speak out their minds, adding, “If I can’t speak my mind on any issue then I’m not a statesman.”
He reminded those trying to appropriate Nigeria to the exclusion of others that “Nigeria belongs to all of us,” adding that it was regrettable that the nation was being compelled to travel through the same path that led to the civil war in the 60s.

“This issue of Biafra should be taken very seriously; those of us who passed through the civil war up to 1970 would not like to pass through that road again,” he said
Clark said that the SNPA should invite President Buhari to a town hall meeting with the South where the issues affecting the growth of the nation would be dispassionately discussed and a common and implementable solution would be adopted.
The delegates from the South-west zone equally expressed alarm at the current happenings in the country and how Buhari’s actions and policies have been worsening the already bad situation.

The Chairman of the Yoruba Unity Forum, Bishop Emmanuel Bolarnre Gbonigi, who was represented by Senator Femi Okurounmu, lamented that Buhari was doing harm to the unity of Nigeria as he has demonstrably been tilting his government in favour of the section of the county where he comes from.
“We ask Mr. President to stop this ethnically biased appointment into offices,” he said, adding that “more and more sections of Nigera are increasingly feeling marginalised due to the actions and policies of government which is increasingly becoming sectional.”

The meeting was flagged off by the host governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, who charged the SNPA to pursue those things that the states of the Southern part of Nigeria can do to foster economic and political interests.

Air Force to ensure efficient performance of its statutory functions to the benefit of Nigerians.”
Fielding questions from journalists, after the federal lawmakers had toured round the several units at the command, the committee’s chairman reiterated their support for NAF for efficient performance.

The chairman stated: “We will encourage them; we will support them because a crime against the nation is a serious crime. The House Committee is in support of the federal government efforts to ensure there is peace in this country. We will provide the funds necessary for them to take off.

“It is pertinent we should come and inspect the implementation of the 2016 Appropriation Act that was passed in line with our constitutional responsibility. We also want to see how the Nigerian Air Force is combating militancy in the Nigeria Delta, that is, the Operation Delta Safe (ODS).”
The committee commended the Chief of Air Staff for his efforts at ensuring improved living condition of officers and men of the 97 SOG, Port Harcourt.

“We are commending him because if the officers are not well accommodated, the morale to go and fight insurgents will not be there. So, that is a key component and we have to appreciate the Chief of Air Staff for doing that.

He further said: “We need to make sure that the aircraft are really serviceable, so that we can see how they can fly and combat all the crimes. We have seen that air power is necessary for Nigerian Air Force. So, the Committee is going to look at that 2017 Appropriation Act.

He disclosed that the lawmakers had been briefed on the challenges faced by NAF personnel and that they have assured them that the committee would look into the challenges confronting 97 SOG, Port Harcourt, when they would look into the 2017 budget.