President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated two Agusta 109 Power and MI-171E helicopter gunships into Nigerian Airforce infantry, and governments of Italy and Russia, who provided the helicopters to Nigeria.
President Buhari, who gave the commendation while unveiling the helicopters at the Eagles Square, Abuja, said Nigeria would continue to strengthen ties with the affected countries.
“I commend the support of the Governments of Italy and the Russian Federation, in particular efforts of the Italian and Russian Ambassador to Nigeria at sustaining the strategic partnership between our countries, which facilitated this acquisition.
“We will continue to take steps that would deepen our bilateral relations. This administration has taken concrete steps to make the investment climate as friendly as possible for foreign investors and we will strive to maintain this tempo.
“The degree of confidence of foreign investors in our country is growing and efforts are ongoing to attract more foreign investment in the non-oil sector of the economy so as to achieve the level of diversification we desire to see in our economy.
President Buhari reassured that his administration would continue to fund and equip the military in order to address the challenges of insecurity across the country.
He expressed the hope that the deployment of the new helicopter gunships would help in suppressing the activities of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers in the country.
He said: “It is noteworthy that professionalism, capacity building and adequately equipping the Armed Forces and other security agencies are a major policy thrust of this Administration.
“We promise to re-professionalise and re-equip the Armed Forces and security agencies to effectively discharge their duties to our nation.
“I have no doubt that the deployment of these Agusta 109P gunships and the M-17IE helicopter would add impetus to the combat efficiency of the Air Force in combating our contemporary security challenges.
“We are committed to taking the right steps in achieving the desired results. The acquisition of these aircraft amongst other military equipment despite our budgetary constraints is an expression of our commitment.”
The President enjoined officers and men of the Nigerian Airforce to ensure they maintain discipline and maintenance culture, to enhance the use and lifespan of the helicopters.
“I, therefore, expect discipline in operation and a strong maintenance culture that will enable the nation to derive maximum benefits from this acquisition,” he said.
President Buhari lauded the security agencies for their invaluable contributions toward addressing the menace of insurgency and banditry in the country.
The president said: “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, peacekeeping 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 reliable regional power.
“I promised to put an end to Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities that have bedevilled our country during my inaugural speech as President.
“You will all agree with me that the successes we have achieved so far have restored our pride and honour the world over.
“Consequently, I want to sincerely thank Nigerians for believing in our government in spite occasional outrages, coming together as a nation, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations, in our strive to bring this menace to an end.’’
President 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.
In his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, said the purchase of the helicopters had further demonstrated the administration’s commitment to bringing the security challenges in the country under control.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the visionary approval to purchase more aircraft for the Air force since 2015 had impacted positively on the fight against terrorism and other crimes.
“Your Excellency’s government has so far procured and inducted 22 aircraft. And the service is expecting 17 additional platforms including 12 x Super Tulcanos from the United States.’’ He said. (NAN)