And contrary to media reports that the United States (U.S.) was blocking Nigeria from acquiring more assault aircraft to prosecute the counter-insurgency operations, Abubakar said the country was not opposed to the moves to end terrorism in the north east.
Air Marshal Abubakar said this while answering questions at the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Operations seminar in Abuja. “All I can tell you is that the U.S. is supporting in the north east, they are helping us with a lot of intelligence, so I don’t see any reason we should have difficulties.”
While delivering his address at the seminar, Abubakar said the Air Force was expecting 10 aircraft of various specifications from Brazil, Russia and Pakistan. From Brazil, Mi-35 helicopters, Super Tucano and JF-17 Thunder are expected while additional 10 Mushack primary trainer aircraft are to be acquired from Pakistan to boost the capacity of the NAF.
According to Abubakar, not less than 13 aircraft which were hitherto kept out of use have been reactivated since he took over the mantle of leadership of the Air Force.
He said the number of intakes into the service had also been expanded to accommodate 2,500 recruits as against the 500 who were there.
According to him, all these efforts are to ensure that the service meets the demands placed on it by the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the north east.
Also ongoing is the training of nearly 70 pilots at home and abroad, training of personnel in other different fields, particularly special forces with skills in counter-terrorism, anti-hijacking as well as the creation of regiment groups that would soon be commissioned in Zamfara, Imo, Bauchi and Osun states. He also said a NAF Air War College (AWC) was established in Makurdi.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has said that 60 per cent of the Boko Haram terrorists on the “fringes and shores” of the Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad are foreign mercenaries and fighters.
The military findings were based on intelligence reports and the high number of foreign Boko Haram members that laid down their arms through the safe corridors of Operation Lafiya Dole.
Buratai disclosed this yesterday when the Special Representative and Head of United Nations Office for West Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, visited the Theatre Command Headquarters, Maiduguri.
He said that despite the renewed attacks, the troops would not relent in degrading the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents and miscreants in the region and across the nation.
“The UN is fully committed to achieving global peace. This is why it has committed a lot of efforts, human and capital resources in assisting the north east. The Nigerian Army is ready to partner the UN in restoring peace in the Northeast sub-region,” Buratai said.
Chambas, in his brief remarks, said that although it was not the first time he was visiting Borno since the emergence of the humanitarian crisis, the UN appreciated the zeal and commitment of the military to end the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism. He added that the UN would continue to support troops and other security agencies to ensure the restoration of peace in the north east and the country at large.