…NAF maintains aircraft locally —CAS
By Bartholomew Madukwe
New York — The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, has said the military was currently confronting no fewer than 14 security threats across the country.
Olonisakin disclosed this at a reception organised for him by Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN in New York, USA.
This is even as the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, weekend, revealed that Nigerian Air Force now maintained its aircraft locally, thus saving the nation the foreign exchange that would have been used for same purpose oversea.
The defence chief was at the UN headquarters for the Second Chiefs of Defence Conference, alongside more than 100 other chiefs of defence staff all over the world.
He said: “By my estimation, we have about 14 security threats that we are confronting, ranging from terrorism, insurgency, kidnapping, cultism, to issues linked to armed robbery.
“We are handling operations in all the geo-political zones of the country, but the major one is the one in the North-East, which is ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’.
“We have, of course, operations down South and taking charge of militancy and oil theft; we also have that in Lagos.
“But the major one is Operation Lafiya Dole, which we have stepped up since we came on board.
“Right now, we have been able to decimate Boko Haram terrorists, but what they are doing right now is hitting soft targets through suicide bombers.
“We realised that to mitigate this particular menace is not only about the military. So we need to carry the whole nation along to be able to address that.”
To mitigate incidences of suicide bombings, Olonisakin said military high command had met with other stakeholders to encourage the populace to provide them with necessary intelligence.
He said the command realised that intelligence was vital to handling the menace of suicide bombings.
The defence chief also said the military had commenced the process of restoring full civil authority in areas formerly controlled by Boko Haram terrorists.
“We are working alongside the DSS – Department of State Services -, the Police, and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“We are also ensuring that the civil authority is put in place; places that the military had taken over, we encourage the Police and Civil Defence to come on so they can provide civil authority for displaced people to move in,’’ he said.
Olonisakin noted that last week, many Boko Haram militants surrendered, adding that “we have what we call Operation Safe Corridor in Gombe that is to handle this kind of surrendered terrorists.
“I believe in the next couple of days, repentant Boko Haram terrorists will be moved to that Operation Safe Corridor where they will conduct de-radicalization and integration procedure for them.
“Down South, of course, we have issues too but the military is stepping up its game to make sure we address the security challenges back home.”
On peacekeeping operations, Olonisakin said Nigeria had met and exceeded the gender percentage, having 16.2 per cent female peacekeepers against the 15 per cent benchmark by the UN.
Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande, commended Nigeria’s security forces for decimating the Boko Haram as a fighting force.
NAF maintains aircraft locally — CAS
Meanwhile, the Chief of the Air Staff, CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has revealed some of the benefits being enjoyed by the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, in its approach to aircraft reactivation.
According to him, NAF now carries out major maintenance on its aircraft locally, either in conjunction with local companies or by inviting foreign experts to come and carry out the reactivation in Nigeria.
Aside from the huge cost savings in foreign currency, he stated that more of NAF technicians were gaining technical expertise, while the reactivation turnaround times were now much reduced.
Abubakar gave the revelations on the final day of his two-day operational visit to the NAF’s 115 Special Operations Group, SOG, in Port Harcourt, where he inspected two NAF helicopters undergoing reactivation.
He expressed satisfaction with the progress of work, which when completed, would further boost the operational effectiveness of the NAF.
The CAS and his team also witnessed a ground instruction class, in which an experienced civilian pilot from AeroContractors was teaching young NAF pilots.
While reiterating his call for similar organizations and companies to lend their support to the NAF, in its current campaigns, Air Marshal Abubakar commended AeroContractors for making its services available to the NAF at no cost.