Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has listed some measures taken by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill his promise during his inaugural speech in 2015, to put an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.
“In fulfilling the promise, as Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, he prioritized the restoration of professionalism in the military, to enable them effectively discharge their responsibilities.
“Substantial investments have been made in acquiring new platforms and other support equipment for the military and other security agencies, as well as in reactivating and upgrading existing platforms.
“In the last four years, the Air Force has acquired and reactivated several aircraft, which are now helping make a difference in the various theatres of engagement across the country.
“In addition, the procurement process for military hardware has been reviewed, to remove inefficiency. In 2018, through a transparent, first-of-its-kind Government-to-Government deal with the United States of America, we concluded the procurement process for the delivery, in 2020, of a dozen Super Tucano aircrafts, which will no doubt be game-changing for Nigeria’s air capabilities.”
Vice President Osinbajo, who spoke today, Monday, at the Nigerian Air Force Day Celebration, highlighted the renewed focus on research, innovation and self-reliance by the Chief of Air Staff, which he said, is farsighted and an important component of the development of a Military Industrial Complex for Nigeria and the Armed Forces in general.
“I am pleased to note that we are seeing an Air Force that is increasingly confident about its ability and capacity to innovate and to deploy locally developed technology.
“This is manifesting in various ways, from the locally-developed operational Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, TSAIGUMI, which the President formally inducted into service in February 2018, to the collaborative work being done at the Air Force Research and Development Centre in Kaduna to produce the first-ever made-in-Nigeria aircraft.
“Of course, this must be situated within the general context of a greater emphasis on local capacity-building by the Nigerian Armed Forces, with developments like the establishment of a Nigerian Army University and the revitalization of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) serving as testaments to this renewed emphasis.”
He commended the Armed Forces, along with other security forces, to its invaluable contributions to fully contain the security challenges in some parts of the nation, especially, the contributions of the Nigerian Air Force in addressing the security challenges of armed banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping in the North West and North Central.
“Your efforts in conjunction with other security agents have started to yield positive results. As we provide new platforms for you to carry out your constitutional roles, Nigerians expect nothing short of exceptional service delivery from you.”
The Vice President charged the Air Force to continue to work to earn the confidence of the nation and the respect of the international community, in terms of protecting lives and property, and degrading and neutralizing all existing and emerging national security threats.
“I would like to urge greater cooperation and mutual trust between the various arms of the Armed Forces, even while maintaining the healthy spirit of competition that underpins innovation and increased efficiency.
“The Nigerian Air Force should also strive to expand its collaborations outside of the military – by this, I mean collaborations with academia, think tanks, civilian technology hubs, and independent innovators and creators. I am aware, with discussions with the Chief of Air Staff that collaborations with our universities and research institutes are already underway.
“There is a great amount of potential waiting to be unleashed from these partnerships. Earlier this year, young interns working at the Federal-Government-supported North East Humanitarian Innovation Hub in Yola, hit an important milestone in their work. They developed, through 3-D printing, a fitting prosthetic arm for a former Policeman who lost his arm while in service. This was an exceptional innovation because all of the material used and all of those involved in it are from Adamawa State.
“Across the country, hubs like these – several of them supported by the Federal Government are doing exciting things and exciting ground is being broken, and there is no reason why the Armed Forces should not be a part of the story.”