•Vows Air Force won’t stop fighting till all Nigerians are safe
•Describes new equipment as ‘game changer’
•Junaid Mohammed: President has failed, Nigerians made mistake electing him
•Bandits kill PDP chief, kidnap 3 daughters in Niger
Bayo Akinloye in Lagos Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri and Laleye Dipo in Minna
Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on Christmas day, said the Nigerian Air Force could no longer afford to be taken unawares in the fight against insurgency. Abubakar said President Muhammadu Buhari had provided the Air Force all required to take on the enemies, including the requisite manpower and sophisticated aircraft, among other equipment.
Abubakar saluted the gallantry of his men, in spite of unceasing attacks by the terrorists. He vowed that the Air Force would not stop fighting till all Nigerians and their property were safe, adding that the new equipment currently serves as a game changer in the fight against insurgency and other forms of insecurity.
But a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic and a prominent member of the northern intelligentsia, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, described Buhari as a failure for failing to protect Nigerians in the face of insecurity, saying the Nigerian people made a mistake electing him.
Meanwhile, terrorists continued their reign of horror, invading Kampala ward in Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State on Thursday, killing a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Ahmodu Mohammed, and kidnapping his three daughters.
Abubakar commended the Buhari government for equipping the Nigerian Air Force in the attempt to stem growing insecurity. He told his officers that the only way to show appreciation to the government was to remain disciplined and ensure the highest level of professionalism in all their undertakings.
Abubakar’s new resolve came on the heels of an upswing in attacks by Boko Haram and its affiliate terror groups in the last couple of weeks, particularly, in Borno and Adamawa states, including the recent abduction of over 300 boys in Kankara, Katsina State, who were later released.
Addressing troops of the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole at a luncheon he hosted for them at the NAF Base, Maiduguri, on Christmas Day, the CAS said with the procurement of additional platforms, such as the Super Tucano, JF-17, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and other equipment, Nigerians should expect renewed vigour from the Nigerian Air Force.
He stated, “I am delighted to be here to mark the Christmas celebration with you all, being a tradition I have maintained since assumption of office. Let me state that the essence is to help fill the vacuum created by not being able to celebrate with our families, because of service exigencies.
“This occasion also fosters comradeship and gives all of us the opportunity to commend ourselves for our collective efforts in the ongoing fight against insurgency.
“It is not easy to quantify your enormous contributions and sacrifices towards the war against insurgency. Christmas celebration is all about sacrifice. As such, as military professionals, our sacrifices for the unity of Nigeria remain immeasurable.
“We all are aware of the enormous responsibility we bear in ensuring the indivisibility of our dear country. My vision has been to reposition the Nigerian Air Force into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.”
According to him, the Nigerian Air Force has trained the requisite manpower to operate all the sophisticated aircraft and equipment the federal government has provided for them and “therefore, we cannot allow ourselves to be taken unawares.”
Abubakar said the Nigerian Air Force had continued to contribute its quota in various internal security operations across the country. He gave the example of the involvement of the Nigerian Air Force in Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-east.
“Similarly, we have intensified our anti-banditry and other security operations across the country,” he said, adding, “We shall not relent nor rest on our oars until we ensure the security of lives and properties of Nigerians are guaranteed.
“Let me reassure us all that procurement of additional platforms such as the Super Tucano, JF-17, UAVs and other additional equipment would certainly be game changers for our operations. We are committed to ensuring the total elimination of insurgency, banditry and all forms of criminality in our dear country.”
With the latest military supplies to the Air Force, Abubakar “We can only show our appreciation for the president’s support to the Nigerian Air Force by remaining a disciplined force with the highest level of professionalism in all our activities. Also, I want to use this occasion to appreciate the support of members of the National Assembly, especially chairmen and members of the National Assembly committees on the Nigerian Air Force. I want to assure you that all approved resources have been judiciously utilised.”
The Air Chief appreciated the governor and people of Borno State “for the support the NAF enjoys in providing the conducive environment for operation of our troops.
“We will continue to seek greater avenues towards ensuring a peaceful and secure environment, where socio-economic activities will thrive for the common good of our people.”
Abubakar commended the “Air Task Force Commander for his efforts at ensuring that personnel and units in the North-east remained undaunted and committed to the war efforts.”
Earlier, Commander of Air Task Force, Operation Lafiya Dole, Air Commodore Abubakar Abdulkadir, said the Christmas luncheon was one of the many gestures of CAS aimed at raising the morale and spirits of troops serving in frontline units in the fight to restore peace and normalcy to the North-east and North-west regions.
He said, “The improved serviceability rates of our platforms from 35 per cent in 2015 to over 80 per cent in 2020 and the acquisition of various air platforms and weapons systems are testaments to the assiduous commitment and efforts of the present leadership of the NAF.
“In addition to the various facilities constructed here in Maiduguri, the construction of two blocks of accommodation for officers and another two blocks for airmen is presently ongoing.”
But speaking on the state of the nation, Mohammed urged Buhari to resign for failing to protect Nigerians in the face of insecurity, warning that Nigeria would know no peace as long as Buhari is in power.
Mohammed, an avowed critic of the president and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), also noted that Buhari had demonstrated leadership incompetence and a habit of lying to Nigerians.
On the way out of the insecurity plaguing the country, the former federal lawmaker told THISDAY, “Certainly, there’s no hope for Nigerians under the Buhari administration. I said this during Buhari’s first term.
“As long this man Buhari remains the president of Nigeria, Nigerians shall have no peace. And I repeat that without any apologies and I’m prepared to damn the consequences. This issue isn’t a personal quarrel. Nigerians deserve better and they’re entitled to a better government.”
According to him, insecurity in the country is a symptom of a bigger issue facing Nigeria, and it is a result of the administration’s hypocrisy.
Mohammed explained that the “Insecurity is not something that’s standing alone by itself. It’s like a symptom of something. It’s an indication of something that’s gone terribly wrong.
“Talking about insecurity in the country, and particularly in the North-east and in the North-west, then, you talk about the incompetence, the irresponsibility, and hypocrisy of the government in power and the perpetual incapacity of those in power, particularly the president and the security architecture to really handle the situation.”
Mohammed argued that the primary responsibility of a government was the protection of lives, property, and the dignity of people. No matter what the government achieves, if it fails to protect lives, property, and dignity of people, “that government has failed,” Mohammed said.
He added, “The government has failed and if the government has any sense of credibility, it should leave quietly. You don’t have a divine right to remain in power even if you won an election. In performance and in delivering his mandate, Buhari and his government have failed woefully.
“Once a leader has failed, he should give way to another leader and do so honourably by resigning. He can relieve us of the trauma by admitting that he has failed and should resign. Nigeria is a great country and Nigerians deserve better. Nigerians made a mistake by electing this character.
“I say that Buhari’s government, the APC government and, of course, the institutions provided for in the National Assembly – whether they are elective or appointive – the fact remains that this government, its political party, the National Assembly and, of course, all the security agencies, directly or indirectly, under the supervision of Buhari have failed to protect us.
“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t see any solutions on the horizon. I don’t believe there’s an idea, even a bad idea, they can now offer to the country in mitigating the situation.”
In Niger State, an eyewitness to the murder of Ahmodu told THISDAY that the killing of the renowned farmer took place last Thursday after the bandits had paid two previous visits to his community.
The armed men were said to have previously attacked traders at the popular Beji market, but the Thursday raid by the bandits, who numbered about 15 and carried dangerous weapons, took place about 2am.
The source, a family member, also stated, “This is the third time that the bandits are attacking the man. They have been coming before but they couldn’t succeed because the man is very powerful. He was shot several times before he eventually died.”
The police could not be reached for confirmation of the report, but when contacted by telephone, a former Niger State Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Tanko Beji, confirmed Ahmodu’s killing.
Beji said the remains of the slain party leader had been interred according to Islamic rites. He also confirmed the kidnap of three daughters of the deceased and described the incident “as unfortunate and pathetic”.