The Chairman, House Committee on Air Force, Rep. Shehu Koko (APC-Kebbi), says the committee would engage its U.S. counterpart to hasten delivery of the Tucano jets paid for by the Federal Government.
Koko made this known at the inaugural meeting of the committee on Wednesday in Abuja.
“We contacted the U.S. Congress Committee on Air Force and I want to assure the Air Force that by January next year, we are going to engage the committee on our Super Tucanos.
“We are aware of the engagements and the money pumped into it, we have promised to do something about it,” he said.
NAN recalls that the Federal Government had in 2018 paid 496,374,470 dollars for the super jets which should be delivered in 2020.
Koko commended the force for decorating the first female fighter jet pilot and a female helicopter after over 55 years of its existence.
He said it was a thing of pride for the force, the committee and the country at large and assured the force of the committee’s relentless support to uplift standard of the Air Force.
In his remarks, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Sadiq Abubakar, said security could only be achieved when there was proper communication between those charged with responsibility of protecting the people and the parliament.
According to him, there is so much misinformation out there and, as members of the House of Representatives, it is your right to know what is going on so you can inform your constituents.
Abubakar said that in the last five years, the Nigerian Air Force had done everything humanly possible to protect the lives of Nigerians and the territorial integrity of the country.
He said that NAF was currently engaged in six major operations across the country as well as other areas with pockets of security concerns.
“In the past five years, NAF has flown about 65,000 hours in order to insure that our country remains fairly secured and our people are able to substantially go about their business without hindrance.
“Out of this number of hours, we had flown about 21,912 hour in the North East alone; we have tried to project air power within and outside the country.
“We were in Malawi to deliver Federal Government relief materials; we were in Mozambique during the flood disaster to deliver relief materials.
“We were in Gambia to support the democratic process under the ECOWAS mandate and we are the only force that went there with fighter jet; we were in Sierra Leone and then in Cameroon,” he said.
Abubakar said that NAF has been conducting medical outreach for victims of crisis and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as a way of winning their hearts for the Nigerian troops.
The Air chief commended the National Assembly for passing the bill that seeks to establish the Air Force Institute of Science and Technology.
According to him, technology is very critical to what we are doing; the fact that the bill has been passed means we now have an Air institute that is funded by the Federal Government.
Abubakar said that the institute would add a lot of value in terms of research and development.
He said that Nigeria could not continue to rely on other countries for safety of lives and for territorial security.
“Every time you require spare parts outside, it means those giving you the spare parts can ground you when they do not want to give you.
“With the institute, we believe it will help us to build the required capacity and be able to address some of the aircraft maintenance difficulties we are facing,” he said.