Poor Governance, Unemployment, Fuel Banditry in Zamfara, Says Defence Minister

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* NAF Takes delivery of fighter jet from US, expects two from Italy

* Buratai visits troops in North-east

By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Mansur Dan Ali(rtd), yesterday attribute d the raging banditry in Zamfara State to poor governance and unemployment in the state.

Bandits have pillaged the state in recent times leaving a trail of blood and destruction.

This is coming as the Nigerian Air Force said it took delivery of fighter aircraft from the United States while expecting another two power helicopters from Italy in bid to strengthen the air Force in the war against insurgents.

In the same vein, the Chief of Army Staff has paid a morale-boosting visit to commanders, troops and mobile Policemen in Buni Yadi, Borno State, the theater of war in the north-east.

Speaking in Abuja, the minister, who is also from Zamfara said poor governance, unemployment and drug abuse were triggers for banditry in the state.

He said federal government had, in an effort to curb the menace in the North-west created 8 Division of the Nigerian Army in Sokoto and a brigade in Gusau, the state capital while another one would be located in Birnni Kebbi.

“It is noteworthy to state that the issue of drug abuse, unemployment and governance amongst others contributes to the deplorable security situation in Zamfara State.

“It is therefore suggested that the all necessary stakeholders should come together and take necessary steps to address these issues and to provide adequate support to security agencies so as to get maximum cooperation”, he said.

The minister stated that “the Nigerian Air Force Quick Response Force was established in Gusau to give air support to the ground troops. Additionally, 500 troops of Nigerian Armed Forces and 500 other security agents were recently deployed to join Operation Sharan Daji to curb the activities of armed bandits and other security challenges in Zamfara and Kaduna states and the region in general”.

“These are all geared towards realising the mandate of the Ministry of Defence and achieving the Federal Government’s drive on security of its citizens and properties.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force said it took delivery of a fighter jet from the United States and expected two more from Italy even as it commenced “in country” maintenance of some of its aircraft.

“Most recently in this regard, the NAF has commenced the in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) of 3 Alpha Jet aircraft at the 407 Air Combat Training Group (407 ACTG) Kainji. The in-country PDM, which commenced on 19 December 2018, is expected to further boost aircraft availability for the conduct of air operations, whilst enhancing the capacity of NAF engineers and technicians involved in the maintenance activity.

“It would also further improve the NAF’s self-reliance and prudent management of resources. It may be recalled that, with the support of the Federal Government, the NAF is also conducting in-country PDM of one of its C-130 aircraft, NAF 917, at the 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot (631 ACMD). The PDM on NAF 917 has reached an advanced stage while the in-house life extension programme on another C-130H aircraft, NAF 913, was completed earlier this year. These have all contributed to raising the serviceability status of NAF operable aircraft from about 36 per cent in 2015 to its current levels of between 78 and 82 per cent.

“It is also noteworthy that the NAF recently recovered another Alpha Jet aircraft, NAF 476, from the United States of America. The aircraft, which was ferried into Nigeria on 6 December 2018, would soon be deployed for operations in the Northeast. “Furthermore, the NAF is expecting the delivery of the first batch of Agusta Westland 109 Power attack helicopters, comprising 2 units, ordered from Italy. The aircraft would be inducted into the Service by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, in March 2019”,it said in a statement issued in Abuja.

In a related development, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai, has paid a morale-boosting visit to commanders, troops and mobile policemen in Buni Yadi.

He visited troops to “personally engage and interact with commanders and troops on operational activities of Operation Lafiya Dole. He particularly visited 27 Task Force Brigade and troops and the Nigerian Army Special Forces School, Buni Yadi, where the 2,000 Mobile Policemen were undergoing training.

The COAS who was accompanied by principal staff officers and directors, was conducted round the school and later briefed by the Commandant of the school, Brigadier General CA Apere.