President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the military and security agencies to ensure a secure and prosperous Nigeria as the country prepares to go to the polls next year. Buhari spoke yesterday in Kano at a ceremonial parade to commemorate the 58th Anniversary of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
The president said NAF had justified the federal government’s investment in the upgrading of equipment and facilities in the force.
In a related development, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong decried the proliferation of weapons by non-state actors, saying this is fuelling insecurity and heightening criminality in the country.
Buhari tasked the security agencies to remain committed, steadfast and resolute, as government pursued its objective of achieving a secure, peaceful and more prosperous Nigeria.
He praised Minister of Defence, Chief of the Defence Staff, and the service chiefs, as well as the leaderships of the other security agencies for doing their jobs well. Buhari particularly lauded Chief of the Air Staff, officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the air force for the good work they had been doing in support of government’s defence and security policies.
The president commended the high level of discipline, loyalty to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and support of democratic values in the air force. He said the Nigerian Air Force had lived up to its constitutional responsibilities of securing the country.
According to him, the air force has transformed into a formidable entity, ready to confront immediate and future challenges.
Buhari stated, “It gives me great pleasure to be here to felicitate with you on the Nigerian Air Force 58th Anniversary Celebration. This is particularly because the Nigerian Air Force has over these 58 years transformed to a formidable and resilient air force that is positioned to effectively tackle both contemporary and future security challenges.
“This adaptability has, thus, enabled the service to respond effectively to our dynamic national security challenges. The Nigerian Air Force has been able to meet its constitutional responsibilities thereby justifying the government’s enormous support in the last seven years.”
Buhari noted that on assumption of office in 2005, he had promised to equip and re-professionalise the armed forces to perform their constitutional responsibilities more effectively. He added, “We have, therefore, demonstrated the required political will and leadership as well as committed resources towards capacity building and re-professionalising of the armed forces.”
He further said, “Today, I can say confidently that the armed forces have, indeed, witnessed tremendous improvement in the past seven years. In particular, the provision of modern equipment and personnel motivation through enhanced welfare are also on-going.”
The president noted that the provision of modern equipment like the Super Tucanos and the Augusta helicopter gunships, among others, and personnel motivation had greatly helped turn the tide in the fight against terrorists and other non-state actors, and sustained the Nigerian Air Force.
He assured that his administration would continue to provide more platforms, such as the Beechcraft, some modern helicopter gunships and UAV, for the Nigerian Air Force to enable it man the airspace more effectively.
“Be rest assured that as a government, we are willing to do even more to ensure the provision of the requisite support and encouragement to overcome various security challenges,” he said.
Meanwhile, Buhari yesterday commiserated with the families of victims of the recent explosion in Kano. He described the incident as sad and unfortunate.
The victims’ family members, accompanied by various community leaders resident in Sabon Gari area of Kano, including the Eze Igbo, Chief Nicholas Ibekwe, were assembled at the palace of the Emir, His Royal Highness Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, for the meeting with the president.
Buhari, according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said he was extremely pained by the loss of lives and injury to many due to the explosion. He added, “My thoughts and that of the nation are with the bereaved families. I hope the injured will recover fully at the earliest possible time.”
Buhari drew parallels between Kano and his native Daura and described the palace of the emir as his own home. He commended the traditional institution and the people of Kano for standing with him at all times.
In his speech, the emir thanked the president for the condolences and commended him for providing a fair and just leadership.
He conveyed Kano community’s appreciation for the numerous things the federal government was doing in the state, and prayed for the emergence of good leaders in the coming elections.
On his part, the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, announced a cash support for the families of the deceased, the injured and others whose property were damaged by the explosion.
Lalong Charges Nigerian Army on Synergy, Confiscation of Illegal Weapons
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong denounced the increasing amount of weapons in the hands of non-state actors, and said this was fuelling insecurity and heightening criminality in the country.
Speaking at the Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship (NASAC) 2022 held at Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, Lalong said the effort of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to curb crime was being jeopardised by the prevalence of small and light weapons in the hands of non-state actors. He urged the Army to mop up every illegal weapon.
The governor said the Nigerian Army boasted great men and women who possessed skills and potential essential in enhancing the national security architecture.
They have demonstrated this over and over again by addressing several cases of insecurity where lives and properties were threatened, Lalong said.
The governor explained, “Let me also use this opportunity to request that the Nigerian Army and, indeed, the security agencies in the country do more to ensure that arms are taken away from non-state actors.
“The level at which unpermitted persons get access to arms and ammunition in the country is very worrying. This has increased the cases of kidnapping, violent crimes and terrorism across the nation.
“While I urge you to continue in this regard, I wish to also emphasise the need for synergy among security agencies for better results. In a society where criminals are becoming more sophisticated, we need to close ranks and ensure that no one is left behind. This includes the civilian population, which also has the duty to provide necessary and timely information to security agencies.”
Lalong said his administration had done a lot to build the capacity of community and traditional systems as well as vigilante groups to serve as a support system to the conventional security apparatus at the grassroots.
He expressed hope that the competition would present a veritable avenue for the participating teams to discover their potential and sharpen the skills required to enhance kinetic operations of the Nigerian Armed Forces. He urged the officers and men to demonstrate teamwork, discipline, commitment and professionalism in the course of the exercise.
The GOC 3rd Armoured Division and Commander, Operation Safe Haven, Major General Ibrahim Ali, said the exercise was a bi-annual event that brought together competitors from various formations of the Nigerian Army to compete in various categories in marksmanship and handling of small weapons.
Ali thanked the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Farouk Yahaya, for approving the hosting of the 2022 NASAC by the 3rd Armoured Division and also making funds available for the event to be organised.
The representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Stephen Olabamji, in an interview with newsmen, said the exercise was part of the overall programmes of the Nigerian Army towards ensuring that officers and men are equipped with the right skills in weapon handling that would enable them continue to perform their task of protecting the country.