- IDPs want clear agenda on going back home
President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that he has kept his promise of tackling Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other security challenges.
The president said the successes achieved so far in that regard had restored Nigeria’s pride and honour all over the world.
He said this while commissioning two Agusta 109 and one Mi-17 E helicopters at the Eagle Square, Abuja, to support counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts.
Buhari said the military will be re-professionalised and re-equipped to meet the growing exigencies of security in the country.
He also assured Nigerians that the promise of ending terrorism would soon be realised.
“We promise to re-professionalise and re-equip the armed forces and security agencies to effectively discharge their duties to our nation.
“I promised to put an end to Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities that have bedevilled our country during my inaugural speech as president.
“You will all agree with me that the successes we have achieved so far have restored our pride and honour the world over. Consequently, I want to sincerely thank Nigerians for believing in our government in spite of occasional outrages, by coming together as a nation, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations, in our strive to bring this menace to an end,” Buhari said.
He tasked the Nigeria Air Force on discipline and strong maintenance culture that would enable the nation to derive maximum benefit from the newly acquired helicopters.
He said the deployment of the Agusta 109P gunships and the M-17IE helicopter would add impetus to the combat efficiency of the air force in combating contemporary security challenges.
Buhari, who expressed determination to take the right steps in achieving the desired results, said the acquisition of the aircraft, among other military equipment despite budgetary constraints, was an expression of the government’s commitment.
He said the two earlier commissioned Agusta 109 Power helicopter gunships, which were procured from Italy over a year ago, made an impact on the war against terrorism.
He lauded the support of the governments of Italy and the Russian Federation, and efforts of the Italian and Russian ambassadors to Nigeria at sustaining the strategic partnership which facilitated the acquisition.
Buhari appreciated Nigerians for their support to the military and other security agencies against terrorism, banditry and kidnapping, adding that the security challenges would be collectively won.
Minister of Defence Bashir Salihi Magashi said the purchase of the helicopters further demonstrated the administration’s commitment to bringing the security challenges in the country under control.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the visionary approval to purchase more aircraft for the air force since 2015 had impacted positively on the fight against terrorism and other crimes.
He said apart from the 22 aircraft so far procured and inducted, the air force was expecting 17 additional platforms, including 12 x Super Tucano from the United States.
What the new helicopters for Nigeria Air Force do
According to Wikipedia, the Agusta Westland AW109 is a lightweight, twin-engine, eight-seat multi-purpose helicopter built by the Italian manufacturer Leonardo S.p.A. (formerly AgustaWestland) merged into the new Finmeccanica since 2016).
The rotorcraft had the distinction of being the first all-Italian helicopter to be mass-produced. Developed as the A109 by Agusta, it originally entered service in 1976 and has since been used in various roles, including light transport, medevac, search-and-rescue, and military roles. The AW109 has been in continuous production for 40 years.
The Mil Mi-17 is known as the Mi-8M series in Russian service. It is a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter. There are also armed gunship versions.
Mi-17s were used during the Cambodian government’s 1996 dry season offensive, five of them being converted to helicopter gunships equipped with 57 mm rocket pods and providing air support for ground forces attacking the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin.
In May 1999, during Operation Safed Sagar, the Mi-17 was used in the first air phase of the Kargil War by 129HU of the Indian Air Force against Pakistani regular and Pakistan-backed militant forces.
The Mi-17 was also used extensively by the Sri Lanka Air Force in Sri Lanka’s war on terrorism by the LTTE.
The Mi-17 was used by the Colombian Army in Operation Jaque.
We want to go back home – IDPs
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Borno State yesterday urged President Buhari to compliment the success recorded by setting clear agenda towards securing and thereafter relocating them back to their communities.
Thousands of people still live in IDP camps in some states in the North East, North West and North Central.
And despite the fact that some of the communities have been liberated, locals are yet to go back home because civil authorities have not been restored.
For instance in Borno State, officials of the state emergency management agency said there are 24 official/formal IDP camps in the state where thousands of families – husbands and their wives and children live.
Maiduguri Metropolis and Jere have 11 IDP camps; Monguno, 5; Ngala, 2; while Bama, Banki, Mafa, Dikwa, Benisheik and Damboa have one each.
The number of unofficial camps administered by NGOs as well as the ones tucked among host communities cannot be determined.
The number of deserted communities can also not be credibly determined yet due to the fact that most of them are in remote locations, with their residents still living as IDPs in camps.
Adamu Hassan, an IDP at Teachers Village in Maiduguri, said the success of the fight against insecurity should also be gauged on how it positively affected displaced people.
“For us, going back home should be the key measurement. The unexpected resurgence of the terror attacks on communities and ambushes and kidnappings along the roads show that we still have a long way to go,” he said.
Ibrahim Saleh, who hails from Bama, is an IDP at Dalori 1 IDP camp, Maiduguri.
“The fact that we are in camps without any date announced for our return to our communities in the nearest future suggests that the war is still with us,” he said.
Afenifere sees success in security from different perspective
The pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, said yesterday that the level of insecurity in the county is now alarming and asked President Buhari to put an end to security breaches in different parts of the country.
Spokesman of the group, Mr Yinka Odumakin, in a chat with Daily Trust recalled a statement by the president on the issue of banditry in which he expressed surprise over the dimension it was taking.
Also speaking, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, said if truly the president had kept to the promise he made on ending insecurity, the result should be seen in few days to come.
“The whole nation is on edge, everybody is on the edge,” George said.
He said the level of insecurity has assumed tribal dimension and deepened suspicion among ethnic nationalities in Nigeria with people pointing accusing fingers as to which part of the country is responsible for the insecurity.
“Inter-tribal hatred is monumental now. It has never been this bad,” George said.
He said the solution lies in the president convoking a meeting of elders from all parts of the country to douse the ethnic tensions precipitated by the rising insecurity.
“Everybody is on the edge. The nation itself is at the precipice. It is not a matter of North, East or South. As long as you are a human being. Human beings are human beings. This tribal war we are promoting doesn’t help,” he said.