- Enjoins president to halt the tide of attacks
- As FG purchases 47 fighter jets, helicopter gunships in 5 years, takes delivery of two new copters
Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Except the world come together in support of Nigeria, she might be unable to defeat the blistering terrorism she currently faces, the European Parliament has said.
The Parliament, therefore, called on the European Union, the African Union and the international community to step up their efforts in supporting the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, even as it called on President Muhammadu Buhari to keep to his 2019 campaign promises and stop the Boko Haram and other terrorist attacks in the country.
The European Parliament is the legislative branch of the European Union and one of its seven institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legislation, normally on a proposal from the European Commission.
Meanwhile, as part of its fleet enhancement project, the Nigerian Air Force, yesterday, said it had taken delivery of 47 fighter jets and helicopter gunships procured by the federal government in the last five years.
Also, the government said it has just taken delivery of another two new Augusta 109 Power helicopters in its renewed bid to tackle security challenges facing the nation.
However, following to a resolution adopted by the Parliament on Nigeria on Thursday, January 16, and obtained by THISDAY, the parliament, the Parliament has asked the international community to pursue continued political and security assistance in the country as well as the entire Sahel region.
Consequent upon this, the parliament has mandated its president to send a copy of the resolution to President Buhari and the National Assembly.
The resolution would also be sent to the European Council, the European Commission, the European External Action Service, Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the African Union, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and the Pan-African Parliament.
Welcoming efforts by the Nigerian government to resolve herders-farmers’ clashes, the parliament also urged the Nigerian government to implement the National Livestock Transformation Plan, which aims to protect the interests of both farmers and pastoralists.
It said further steps were necessary, such as strengthening conflict mediation, resolution, reconciliation and peace-building mechanisms in the collective push to end terrorism.
The Parliament expressed concern that progress had been stalled in the fight against Boko Haram and ISWAP as evidenced by increased occurrence and severity of suicide attacks and direct attacks against military positions.
The resolution stated: “Whereas the security situation in Nigeria has significantly deteriorated in recent years, posing a serious threat to regional and international security; whereas human rights violations and mass killings are widespread, notably in the North-East Region of the country; whereas over 36 000 people have been killed by the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria since 2009.”
It noted that historic rivalry between the predominantly Muslim north and Christian south had dramatically intensified with the spread of radical Islam in recent time.
The Parliament recalled that, “Nigeria’s President Buhari was re-elected in 2019 on the promise of defeating the violent extremism promoted by Boko Haram and other terror groups, and urges the President to implement his campaign promises.”
It also noted that for Nigeria to be stable, the government of President Buhari must put an end to impunity.
The Parliament, however, “stresses that the fight against impunity is fundamental to the stability of the country and the building of lasting peace”, and therefore “calls on the Nigerian authorities to conduct immediate, thorough and transparent investigations to bring perpetrators to justice and hold them accountable.
It also called for measures to improve the capacity and independence of Nigeria’s judiciary as a means to promote the effective use of criminal justice to combat violence, terrorism and corruption.
To this end, it called on the EU, the African Union and the rest of the international community to step up their efforts in supporting the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, and pursue continued political and security assistance in the country, as well as the entire region.
The Parliament said it was deeply concerned by the impact of the security situation in Nigeria, the effectiveness of humanitarian and development aid and consequently, “calls for the EU to continue to pursue its humanitarian and development efforts not only in Nigeria, but also the region as a whole.”
It welcomed the additional EUR 50 million pledged by the EU in 2019 to support recovery and resilience in Nigeria, even as it stressed the interdependence of development, democracy, human rights, good governance and security in the country.
It further warned that military action alone was not sufficient to combat terrorism effectively and as such, called on the Nigerian Government to develop “a comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of terrorism, by focusing on a preventive approach that aims to eliminate the appeal of terrorist ideology, curtail opportunities for recruitment and radicalisation, cut off its funding, as well as by supporting and funding community-focused programmes of civil society organisations.”
On its new deliveries in the fight against insecurity, the Air Force noted that within the last five years, it took delivery of 21 brand new aircraft, including 10 Super Mushshak, five Mi-35M helicopter gunships, two Bell 412 helicopters and four Agusta 109 Power Helicopters.
NAF Spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said 15 additional aircraft were ordered by the Federal Government, which include 12 Super Tucano attack aircraft and three JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft.
“In addition, the service also took over 11 aircraft from other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). These include three EC-135 helicopters and three Dauphin helicopters from NNPC, three Donier 228 aircraft and two Agusta 101 from the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) making an unprecedented total of 47 aircraft that have either been inducted into the NAF or ordered for the Service since 2015”, he said.
Air Commodore Ibikunle said the helicopters were part of the second batch of two new Agusta Westland 109 Power Attack helicopters procured by the federal government as part of the fleet enhancement efforts to enable more effective and efficient employment of air power to tackle the security challenges facing the nation.
“The two helicopters, along with associated equipment and spares, arrived Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja on board a Boeing 737-400 Cargolux Airline aircraft from Malpensa International Airport in Italy on 15 January 2020.
“They were received by a NAF Team, led by Air Commodore Halim Adebowale, as well as the Country Representative of Leonardo Helicopters, manufacturers of the aircraft,” he said.
He informed that NAF engineers and technicians, in collaboration with a team from Leonardo, had commenced assembly of the helicopters preparatory to their induction into service.
To that extent, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has restated the unflinching commitment of the Nigerian Air Force to the welfare of officers and men of the service.
According to him, “the human being is perhaps the most critical success factor in any human endeavour. Accordingly, the NAF will continue to give priority attention to all issues relating to the welfare of personnel and their families”.
The CAS made the disclosure while on a one-day operational visit to inspect ongoing NAF welfare-enhancement projects in Lagos.
The projects inspected included the ongoing re-construction/re-modeling of five blocks of 36 single-bedroom flats for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and drainage works at the Sam Ethnan Air Force Base Ikeja, as well as the construction of a block of 24 x single-bedroom flats for NCOs at the NAF Legico Barracks in Victoria Island.
The CAS also inspected C-130H aircraft (NAF 913), which recently underwent a successful Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) at the 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot (631 ACMD) Ikeja, executed by a Team of Pakistan Air Force and NAF Engineers and Technicians.
Speaking after inspecting the projects, the CAS, while expressing satisfaction with the progress of work, reiterated his gratitude to the federal government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, for the enabling environment that had empowered the service to thrive.
Air Marshal Abubakar also appreciated the National Assembly especially, the Chairmen and Members of the Senate and House Committees of the Air Force, for their continued support to ensure funds were appropriated for the various projects.
He said this had enabled the service to construct new office and residential accommodations as well as renovate existing ones to meet the needs of the service in its units across the country.
This in turn, he claimed, had ensured a well-motivated force that has continued to carry out its constitutional roles effectively and efficiently, as evidenced by the recent successes recorded in the Northeast under the auspices of Operations Rattle Snake 1 and 2.
He said the NAF, buoyed by this support, would continue to work tirelessly, in synergy with sister services and other security agencies, to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians were protected.