BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA — President Goodluck Jonathan has assured Nigerians that the present security challenges facing the country, occasioned by the terrorists attacks and bombing by Boko Haram and other groups, was a passing phase that will be overcome very soon.
Speaking at the investiture ceremony of five former and current Chief of Air Staff with the Distinguished Flying Star Medal of the Nigeria Airforce and Presentation of Flag to Mobility Command, Yenegoa, in Abuja yesterday, the President said what was happening was a passing phase which every great nation of the world had gone through.
Jonathan said: “I encourage all Nigerians to remain steadfast, vigilance and optimistic bearing in mind that the endeavour of building a great nation can never be without challenges. “I want to assure you, however, that as we work together and draw upon our collective strength and numerous ties that bind us in peace and unity, we shall prevail over the challenges and leave a better country for children.”
Commending the Air Force and Armed Forces as a whole for their immense contribution to the maintenance of national security and defence of democracy, the President said: “Members of the armed forces are currently involved in the internal security in several parts of our dear nation.
“I must also note with pride your contributions towards ensuring stability across our great continent and even beyond.
“Your active participation in bringing peace and stability to the West African sub-region has been commended globally. I wish to commend you on the professionalism with which you handled the various situations.
“Your courage, dedication to duty and professionalism bear noble testimony to the indomitable spirit of the Nigerian people. I am aware that these accomplishments have not been without great and often painful sacrifice and for this reason, the nation owes you and your families a debt of gratitude.”
He highlighted the role of the Nigerian Air Force in ensuring the security of the country, saying “I am confident that with the on-going positioning of the Nigerian Air Force for sustained the deployment of air power as evident in the establishment of the mobility command, the Air Force is destined for even greater achievement as we work to transform Nigeria.
“No nation can rightly boast of greatness in the absence of a vibrant armed forces bearing in mind the onerous task that nation building can only be accomplished when the safety and the territorial integrity of the nation is assured.
“There is, therefore, no doubt that building and maintaining the virile and motivated Air Force is secured to ensuring our security and national development. For this reason, the FG has continued to make substantial investments in the provision of new platforms and the reactivation of old ones.
“This is in addition to our commitment to ensure better training and improved welfare packaging for the improvement of men and women of our noble Armed Forces.”
President Jonathan congratulated the recipients of the Distinguished Flying Star, including Air Marshal Akin Dada, (1992-1993), Air Vice Marshal Femi John Femi (1993-1996), Air Marshal Isaac M. Alfa (1999-2001), Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike (206-2008), Air Chief Marshal O.O. Petinrin (2008-2010), Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar (2010-till date).
According to him, the award was in recognition of their contributions to the advancement of the Nigerian Air Force and security of Nigeria.
In his reaction, Air Marshal Alfa said “I am very happy for the recognition. As for the commitment to the country, once you have gone as far as being the Service Chief, you are actually never fully retired.
“You are always in the service of the country that is to say you are more or less on reserve and you can be called upon into active service many times. My commitment to the country is that anytime I am needed I am always ready.”
ACM Paul Dike said “it is always something special when you are honoured by your people, so I am delighted to have been one of those people that were honoured here today.”