The Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has attributed the improvement in the security situation in the country to the sacrifice made by security agencies in the country whose sacrificial efforts he likened to the sacrifice of the holy prophet as depicted in the festival being celebrated, Eid.
Speaking with a handful of journalists in his country home, Oro kwara State on Friday on the importance of the celebration of Eidel Fitri, Lai Mohammed said “ We praise Allah that today, we are able to celebrate across the country in an atmosphere of relative peace and security. As we celebrate this Festival of Sacrifice, we owe the marked improvement in the security situation in our country in general and the North-east in particular to the men and women in uniform, who have sacrificed so much to make our country safer than at any other time since the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2009. Yes, we are not totally out of the woods yet, but we are much better today than we were in 2015, when this Administration assumed office.”
Lai Mohammed used the opportunity to debunk insinuations on the resurgence of Boko Haram as claimed by some people adding that it is not true but mere propaganda.
In his words “Let me use this opportunity, therefore, to debunk the insinuation in some circles that there is a resurgence of Boko Haram because of some recent tragic events, including suicide bombings and the abduction of some staff of the University of Maiduguri. The truth is
that there is no resurgence of Boko Haram. Cowardly bombings and kidnappings are some of the hallmarks of an asymmetric warfare that insurgencies are. And like I say all the time, such wars do not end by the signing of any truce. They taper off with time, as this one surely
He hinted on efforts of the government towards a quick solution to the issue of insurgence in the country adding that gallant troops are daily living up to their constitutional responsibility of
maintaining the nation’s territorial integrity, securing its borders, suppressing insurrection or insurgency and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order and ensure peace, among others.
The Minister said that by doing all highlighted above, the armed forces are ensuring that never again will Boko Haram take control of our territories, attack our major cities, including Abuja, at will and fly their flag anywhere in the country.
He said that while the entire military has performed what is widely regarded as a feat by largely defeating Boko Haram, the supportive efforts of the focused the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, in the achievement of that feat cannot be overemphasized.
The Oro born Minister said “As you all know, the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency is the Sambisa Forest, which is a vast area of 60,000 square kilometres. To be able to capture Ground Zero in that forest and flush out the insurgents from their base required a lot of air support which the Nigerian Air Force provided adequately and promptly.”
Mohammed expressed surprise at how the Nigerian Air Force was able to provide meaningful support considering its sorry state that is was just a few years back?
He also gave a hint on his recent meeting with the Chief of Air Staff. He said “I recently held a meeting with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, and I want to use this opportunity to share with you the tremendous achievements of the Nigerian Air Force, thanks to the support and the enabling environment provided by President Muhammadu Buhari since assuming office. Today, young and well-trained pilots are the ones flying the aircraft in the inventory of the NAF. Imagine that until recently, officers in the ranks of Group Captains and Air Commodores are the ones flying the aircraft. In fact, the present Chief of Air Staff himself flew until he was an Air Vice Marshal, the equivalent of a Major-General in the Army! Today, you have officers who are below 30 years of age, officers who are Flight Lieutenants flying the planes, including the C-130s. They are also serving as Instructor Pilots. This is big leap.”
The Minister spoke of the tremendous changes that had occurred in improving the capability of the Nigerian Airforce ranging from improved training and increase in the number of newly graduated pilots among which are 16 instructors from its primary flying school in Kaduna.
He further said “if you want to know how significant this is, let me inform you that the last time cadets graduated from that school was 32 years ago! This is possible because the NAF has moved from just two trainer aircraft when this Administration came into office to 14 trainer aircraft presently, and the number continues to grow, in addition to other logistical issues like availability of spare parts and aviation fuel being squarely addressed. This has also ensured that pilots can conclude their initial flying training within 4 months! I can tell you that from December last year to June/July this year, the air force has ‘winged’ 32 pilots, who are now fully qualified to fly the air force’s aircraft.”
He urged Nigerians to appreciate the purposeful leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari, the professionalism and commitment of the Service Chiefs and the unending sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, Nigeria, especially the North-east, is safer today than it was when the Administration came into office in 2015 adding that it can only get better thereby urging Nigerians to remember Nigerian troops in prayers and continue to support them, instead of dwelling on the Boko Haram resurgence that never was!
The Minister finally urged the media must deny the insurgents the oxygen they desperately crave to survive – which is publicity.