Levinus Nwabughiogu – Abuja
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said on Thursday the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) would soon take delivery of two helicopter gunships to help in stamping out insurgency and other criminal activities threatening the territorial integrity of the country.
Abubakar disclosed this at the ministry’s 2020 budget defence with the House of Representatives Committee on Air Force.
He noted that airpower was critical in resolving many conflicts such as the Boko Haram insurgency that had ravaged the North-East part of Nigeria.
According to him, the NAF had recruited over 10,000 youths amongst whom were graduates to effectively combat crimes and criminality in the country.
He said the gunships acquired from Italy would arrive in the country before the end of the year.
The NAF chief also thanked the House of Representatives Committee for the cordial relationship that had existed between them, praying that it be sustained.
He said: “Airpower is very critical to resolving this conflict. We are happy that the committee has demonstrated an understanding of what the Air force is doing.
“We have continued to provide support and engage criminal elements that are undermining the security of the country. We are about to acquire two helicopters from Italy. These two helicopters will be in Nigeria before the end of the year.”
Abubakar also hinted that some officers and men of the Service would soon travel to Pakistan for more training.
Earlier in his opening speech, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Shehu Koko commended the Force for its resilience in the counter-insurgency campaign.
He, however, asked the NAF to extend its airpower to Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi States to arrest the security challenges in the areas, promising the Committee’s resolve to maintain the good relationship through budgetary provisions.
“I wish to seize this opportunity to commend the Chief of Air and indeed, all the officers of the NAF for the good work they have done and are still doing to curtail the nagging security challenges in the country.
“It is significant to note that since your leadership, the problem of insurgency and other security problems in the country have been drastically reduced through the fighting skills and airpower of the Nigerian Air Force,” Koko added.