The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Wednesday said it had deployed more firepower to the ongoing state of emergency operation in the North-east in order to avoid a repeat of the recent attack carried out by members of the outlawed Boko Haram sect against the various military locations in Maiduguri, Borno State, including the NAF Base.
The move is coming on a day the federal government was advised to embrace aggressive diplomacy, especially with Cameroun in order to end the sect’s onslaught, which had claimed thousands of lives.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Alex Badeh, who disclosed the new security measure at the Air Force Headquarters, Abuja during the decoration of newly promoted 39 NAF officers from Group Captains to the rank of Air Commodores, said even though the Air Force suffered minimal damage on the first day of the attack, it had since then replenished their equipment and armaments.
According to him, the Boko Haram sect attack has only helped to increase their determination and motivation to forge ahead with the operation, saying “they have stepped on the tiger’s tail.”
He said: “Well, let me say it (the attack at NAF base) affected it for that first day but you know you don't put all your eggs in one basket. We didn't send everything (aircrafts/weapons) to Maiduguri now. When those ones were disabled, we picked up some more (aircrafts) and moved on.
“I am not on the ground doing the operation but I have given all the resources required, and so far we have more fire power now than when the attack was carried out what they did. It was like stepping on the tiger’s tail and that one I can guarantee you.”
The NAF base and three decommissioned military aircrafts as well as two helicopters were incapacitated during a pre-dawn attack on Maiduguri by suspected terrorists, while two Air Force personnel were also wounded with 24 insurgents also killed during the exchange of gunfire.
Speaking further, Badeh said the Air Force was focusing its attention to innovation, research and development aimed at ensuring that they become self sufficient in arms and ammunition in the nearest future.
He explained that this was necessary because of the limited resources available to meet all their needs, especially in the area of military hardware.
“Well I meant that like what my vision said is that we must be very innovative in whatever we are doing. We can never get enough resources, which nobody can get enough resources. So the little we have we try to improve on it by being resourceful and innovative.
“So, we are going to put things to see how we can get our own arms in Nigeria but necessity is the mother of invention because we are looking at a case where we cannot get everything we need outside the country. It is not everything we need that we meet the National Assembly for money,” he added.
The Air Force chief, further charged the newly promoted and decorated officers to see their elevation as act of God and a higher calling for national service.
He revealed: “Seventy-nine of you were presented for promotion and 39 of you got it. I have heard that there were a lot of grumblings but I just want to tell you that promotion comes from God. I want to tell you that its the hand of God and not that of any man not everybody can be promoted.
“You should also know that this promotion is not a reward for what you have done but NAF have seen in you potentials for higher responsibility. You have now become part of the management that what you do now affects NAF directly. So you must not do anything that will ridicule us. So I repeat that this a call for national service at the higher level. Welcome to the management staff.”
Speaking on behalf of the newly decorated officers, Air Commodore Oluwole Akinsanya commended President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Council and Chief of Air Staff for finding them worthy of promotion.
“Sir, we are not unmindful of the responsibility which this new rank repose in us. We will not disappoint you sir,” he assured.
The senior officers decorated ed to the ranks of Air Commodore are; Air Commodores TE Opuiyo, B Garba, EO Ohanele, PN Dimfwina, OR Philips, EO Alade, OJ Osahor, MA Idris, and NO Oyibo.
Others are RE Adediji, HU Mohammed, CA Ogbeche, CI Oghomwen, SS Okwuokei, SG Jeff-Zanni, CT DII, AA Onitiju, CN Udeagulu, and AO Kolofo amongst others.
Meanwhile, Borno State Controller of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Alhaji Modu Musa, who called for the aggressive diplomatic relations, claimed that most of the insurgents are now camped between the nation’s border with Cameroun.
He said it was “time for serious diplomatic pressure on Cameroun to flush out the Boko Haram.”
Musa said the government at all the levels should be willing to invest heavily in security, insisting that “no sacrifice is too much for security. For without security we cannot live to reap the dividend of democracy.”
Responding, Governor Kashim Shettima, said: “The attack on Maiduguri was a wake-up call that the town hitherto believed to be impregnable can indeed be penetrated.”
He said the insurgents have with this sent a message to the military to be on their toes at all times.