President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday that his administration was on course in fulfilling its promise to end Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and kidnapping in the country.
He stated that much had been achieved in that direction since 2015, adding that with a re-equipped Armed Forces and the support of Nigerians, insurgency, banditry and kidnapping would end.
Buhari, who also said that he would re-professionalise the armed forces, spoke in Abuja at the inauguration of two Nigerian Air Force Agusta 109 Power Helicopters and an Mi-17 E Helicopter.
The event took place at the Eagle Square.
He said, “I promised to put an end to Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other forms of criminality that have bedevilled our country during my inaugural speech as President.
“You will all agree with me that the success we have achieved so far has restored our pride and honour the world over. Consequently, I want to sincerely thank Nigerians for believing in our government in spite of occasional outrage, coming together as a nation, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliation, in our strive to bring this menace to an end.’’
To achieve this, he said he would re-professionalise the armed forces and other security agencies.
“We promise to re-professionalise and re-equip the Armed Forces and security agencies to effectively discharge their duties to our nation.
“Professionalism, capacity building and adequately equipping the Armed Forces and other security agencies are a major policy thrust of the administration,” Buhari said.
The President asked NAF to ensure the proper maintenance of the helicopters to be able to meet the demands of the operations they would be deployed to undertake.
Buhari recalled that two other Agusta 109 power helicopter gunships, earlier bought for NAF from Italy, had been successfully deployed in counter-insurgency operations.
He seized the opportunity of Thursday’s inaugural ceremony to thank the Governments of Italy and the Russian Federation for supporting the Nigerian Government to procure the helicopters.
Buhari added, “I want to, once again, salute the resolve of our Armed Forces and the invaluable contributions of all security agencies for their efforts towards the decimation of Boko Haram.
“Your contributions in internal security, peace-keeping and humanitarian operations in places like The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cameroon, have not only been a source of pride to us as a nation, but has also projected us as a reliable regional power.”
His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in a statement after the ceremony, said, “Buhari appreciated Nigerians for their support of the military and other security agencies against terrorism, banditry and kidnapping, adding that the security challenges would be collectively won.”
On his part, the Minister of Defence, General Bashir Magashi (retd.), told the gathering that the regime inched toward containing the country’s security setbacks with the purchase of the helicopters.
Speaking earlier, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed that since 2015, the regime had procured 22 military aircraft.
Abubakar added, “The service is expecting 17 additional platforms including 12 x Super Tulcanos from the United States.’’