Military operations against criminals are yielding the desired results, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday.
According to the President, the Armed Forces have, by their efforts within the past four years, restored the pride and honour of Nigeria amongst the comity of nations.
President Buhari spoke at the Eagle Square, Abuja as the Special Guest of Honour during the Parade/Orbat Flypast/Aerial Display by the Nigerian Air Force to commemorate its 55 anniversary.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the President was treated to a colourful parade by the Six Commands of the NAF. He inducted two new Agusta 109 attack helicopters recently acquired by the service.
At the event were: Chief of Defence (CDS) Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; representative of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Acting Inspector-General (IG) Mohammed Adamu.
President Buhari said: “I am very delighted to be in your midst today to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the NAF. Since the establishment of the NAF in 1964 by an Act of the Nigerian Parliament, the Nigerian Air Force has been fulfilling its Constitutional mandate of preserving Nigeria’s territorial integrity through the employment and projection of air power.
“As a country, we are particularly proud that in less than 4 years, we have been able to revitalise our armed forces for the full restoration of Nigeria’s territorial integrity that was once violated by Boko Haram insurgents.
“As the air arm of the armed forces, the Nigerian Air Force has continued to play very crucial roles in degrading the fighting capabilities of the Boko Haram Terrorists in North East where our officers, airmen, soldiers and ratings have performed gallantly.
“Once again, I salute the resolve of our Armed Forces and the invaluable contributions of other security agencies towards the defeat of Boko Haram and other security challenges bedeviling our dear nation.
“Specifically, the contributions of the NAF in addressing the security challenges in the Northwest against armed banditry/cattle rustling and kidnapping is also appreciated.
“Your efforts in conjunction with other security agents have started to yield positive results thereby restoring our pride and honour amongst the comity of nations.
“I also want to thank Nigerians for coming together as a united and determined people, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations, to wage the war against terror and insurgency.
“We are currently in the stabilisation, reconstruction and resettlement phase of the overall effort in the North East, and we continue to solicit for your support and understanding until terrorism is completely eradicated. We will not relent until every trouble spot within our territory enjoys enduring peace and order.”
Chief Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar commended the President for the support given to the service in the past four years, saying the NAF have been able to acquire new platforms and establish new commands through the magnanimity of the President.
The CAS said: “The 55 years of the existence of the Nigerian Air Force have been very eventful and during this period, the NAF was confronted with a myriad of challenges. However, we were able to surmount these challenges and progressively maturing in the process.
“The NAF has also grown in size, spread and equipment holding all in a bid to fulfil its statutory obligation of protecting and defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria from the air. The growth of the NAF since the inception of the Service has been particularly outstanding.
“From having only a few trainers and transport aircraft in the early years of the Service, the Nigerian Air Force currently has an impressive ORBAT comprising diverse aircraft with capabilities to perform a wide spectrum of missions.
“We have also continued to build upon the foundations laid by our noble predecessors by reactivating several aircraft that were hitherto grounded; acquired and inducted various platforms into service and increased the strength of service personnel by 7,500 airmen/airwomen and 400 officers. Additionally, two new commands and two staff branches were established to meet the evolving security challenges we are faced with.”