Insurgency: Reps c’ttee urges NAF to extend airpower to Northwest

File: NAF Alpha jets in action

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Airforce, Rep. Mohammed Koko has urged the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) extend its airpower to nip “the perennial security challenges” in some states in the northwest.

Koko, who made the call during the 2020 budget defence of the NAF on Thursday, said the states affected were those carved out of old Sokoto State.

“I would be delighted if you could equally extend the security apparatus and airpower of the Nigeria Air Force to the old Sokoto states, presently comprising Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara.

“This is in order to nip in the bud, the perennial security challenges in this area by establishing a Quick Response Wing (QRW) in Kebbi which has two international borders of Benin Republic and Niger Republic, to assist in curtailing increased insecurity challenges in the area.”

The chairman also commended the leadership of NAF for its contribution to the fight against insurgency.
Speaking, the Chief of Air Staff (COAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar commended the National Assembly for approving the appropriation for NAF to acquire aircraft which would contribute to the fight against insurgency.

Abubakar said that the Air Force was in the process of acquiring two helicopter gunships which would be in Nigeria before the end of the year.

“We are about to acquire two helicopter gunships from Italy; we have a shipment inspection team in Italy to ensure that what is supposed to come with the aircraft is intact before the shipment to Nigeria.

“We believe that the helicopter gunships would be in the country before the end of the year.

‘`We have made substantial progress in terms of acquiring the JF17 vital aircraft from Pakistan and I believe that very soon our officers and men would move to Pakistan for training while the production of the aircraft is ongoing.”

The COAS said that the Air Force had continued to operate in eight different operations in different parts of the country, adding that it had “flown over 65,000 hours out of which 21,900 hours were flown in the Northeast of the country”.

“We have continued to provide support to ground troops and we have also continued to engage criminal elements that undermine the security of our country.

“We will continue to do our best to ensure Nigeria is secure,” he said.

He also said that the force had recruited over 10,000 Nigerian youth in the last four years and was training 2,000 more to ensure the safety of the country.

“In the area of capacity building and training, we have also brought in about 600 graduates and we are about to bring in another 120 graduates into the Air Force.

“The whole idea is have the right capacity to handle some of the difficulties we are facing.”