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Boko Haram: Air Force acquires 6 new helicopters

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The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday said it had acquired six brand new helicopters, to reinvigorate the nation’s air power. Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who made the disclosure in Abuja, said this was the first time in about 18 years that the NAF will be making such acquisition. Abubakar made the disclosure at the “winging” ceremony of 12 pilots, who will be deployed to boost the air component of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East, and other internal security operations across the country.

“This is the first time in about 18 years that we are acquiring six brand new helicopters for the air force,” the CAS said. According to the Air Chief, “This is quite significant in the sense that at least we are building capacity and making sure that we have the right number of qualified staff that will man these helicopters that have been acquired. “Human capacity is the most important.

You can have all the aircraft, but if you don’t have people who are trained to fight with aircraft, you will still not get anything. Now that the government is acquiring more platforms for us, we already have pilots.”

Abubakar expressed delight that this was the second time the NAF was graduating new pilots this year. “This is the second time that we are winging pilots this year and this shows that we are thinking ahead of what the government is providing for us and I think it is really impacting positively,” he said. Meanwhile, the NAF has trained the first set of two flying officers from Liberia.

The 12 new pilots, and their Liberian counterparts, acquired their trainings from the International Aviation College in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, as well as the Afrika Union Aviation Academy, South Africa.

“In realization of our drive for human capacity development through robust and result-oriented training for enhanced professional performance, I am pleased that 12 more Nigerian Air Force pilots, along with two of their Liberian counterparts, are being winged today, having concluded their training in Kaduna and Ilorin.

“To our dear guests and brothers from Liberia, I hereby express our appreciation for the confidence you reposed in us by allowing us train your first set of pilots. I believe this is another milestone aimed at strengthening the relations between our nations,” Abubakar said.

This was as he also seized the moment to reiterate NAF’s efforts at defending the territorial integrity of the country. While noting that countries of the world were contending with myriads of armed conflicts such as terrorism and other violent crimes, Abubakar assured that his Force, in collaboration with other security agencies, will not rest on its oars, in its determination to protect the sanctity of the nation.

His words: “The 21st Century is characterised by plethora of armed conflicts occasioned by struggle for political power among ethnic nationalities and sub-nationalities. “Resource-based conflicts, terrorism and militancy have also continued to define the post-Cold War international environment.

“The Nigerian Air Force in the last three years or thereabout has continued to project air power both within and outside Nigeria. “To achieve this, we have embarked on human capacity development to reposition NAF to adequately deal with these challenges.”

Earlier, the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), re-assured President Muhammadu Buhari of the Armed Forces of Nigeria’s total loyalty, even as he reminded the newlyinducted officers, that to whom much was given, much was expected.

The ceremony was attended by the Liberian Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh, the country’s Minister of National Defence, officers, as well as families of the decorated officers.

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Killings: Nigeria is a failed state – Dickson 

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Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson said the wanton killings in the country by Fulani herdsmen is symptomatic of a failed state. 

Dickson who spoke yesterday at a National Prayer Conference in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, stated that Nigeria is seriously bleeding and divided more than ever. 

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Francis Agbo, the Bayelsa State governor said Nigerians must unite in prayers and resolve to work together to ensure fairness, justice, equity and equal citizenship.                                       

“In this country,  God’s children, human beings irrespective of the God they worship are being slaughtered mercilessly, remorselessly in many parts of the country. 

“Our nation is bleeding, we must unite in prayers and resolve to do what is right and fair. Our nation should be a nation of fairness, justice, equity, equal citizenship and united by common ideals of being the greatest black nation,” Dickson added. 

He called on the nation’s leaders to take the responsibility to stop the bloodletting, adding that this is the time Nigerians have to intensify prayers for the nation to overcome its challenges. 

The governor said:‎ “We are united by our common shared humanity and nationality, so injustice and unfairness anywhere should be a concern to anyone and everyone in our nation. 

“I join you in praying that the bloodletting, unnecessary killings in our nation under any shape or guise ends in Jesus name. 

“God should intervene so that people will feel the need to do the right thing, be fair and just to one another.”

Chairman and convener of Nigeria Prays, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), stressed the importance of prayers, which he said, could help to solve Nigeria’s problems better and faster than military generals and soldiers could do with physical weapons of war. 

Gowon assured Nigerians that God would honour the collective prayers and intercession for the nation, while also advising people to shun violence and retaliation.

Also, the National Director of Nigeria Prays,  Reverend Moses Aransiola said the organisation believes in the efficacy of prayer, and argued that it is the patriotic responsibility of all Christians to pray for their leaders. 

President,  Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Revd. Felix Provide, in a message, assured of God’s intervention to the nation’s problems. 

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N21.5bn SUKUK bond: Lawmaker lambasts Niger Governor

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The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Barrister David Umaru, has lambasted the Niger state Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello over the N21.5 billion SUKUK loan facility applied for, saying it will plunge the state into bankruptcy.

Barrister Umaru who is also the chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights at a press briefing on Sunday in Minna said the capacity of governor Sani Bello to put to judicious use the funds from SUKUK bonds if access is not only doubtful but nonexistent.

According to him “it is obvious that this administration is badly obsessed with accessing bond facilities in the presence of infrastructural development while it has consistently failed to account for the billions of naira accrued from statutory allocation to the State including other huge financial interventions from the government.

“Governor Bello should be aware that the well-informed people of the state including my humble self cannot be deceived by the needles lies being canvassed as benefits derivable from the huge burden-laden bonds meant to impoverish the state.

While calling on the state house of Assembly not to approve the loan, he said “this administration when compared to previous administration of former Governor Babangida Aliyu is more financially reckless.

“While the former administration had left a total sum of N44 billion as external debts and close to N30 billion as internal debts, the present administration appears ready to break such record with heavier debt burden despite huge resources that had accrued to the state in the past three years.”

He added that between 2015 and 2017, governor Bello administration had accessed over N114 billion as net FAAC. Though the State budget keeps increasing (36.3 % and 9.4% for the periods 2016-2017 and 2017-2018), the government is increasingly becoming incapable of delivering the democratic dividends as it is enmeshed in growing external and internal debts.

Accordingly, he said “the state’s external debt is put at N17.13 billion and, N31.98 billion as internal debt. We are asking governor Bello to tell us how the Bail-out funds from the federal government and the disbursements from the Paris Club refunds allegedly amounting to about N250 billion were utilized.”

Furthermore, he said the loans taken by the state which include $226 million bond from the Islamic Development Bank and $330 million from Kuwait find for Arab Development, are meant to further impoverish the state which is yet to recover from the comatose condition imposed by the huge debt bonds borrowed from the capital market by the previous administration.

He, however, called on members of the State House of Assembly to withhold approval on the loan request adding that this would save the state from further impoverishment, “history will not be kind to our House members if they do otherwise. Future generations of Nigerlites and indeed the present generation will hold our lawmakers responsible for mortgaging their future.”

He then called on the people of the state to stand up and vehemently resist and oppose the clueless misadventure of the Governor in seeking the N21.5 billion Sukuk bond.

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Naka military invasion: Benue PDP guber aspirant blasts army, threatens court action

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A Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant in Benue State Prof. Eugene Aliegba has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently end the on-going killings by Fulani herders\military rascality of innocent citizens in the state.

Prof. Aliegba made this call in Makurdi while reacting on the attacks by the military on the peace-loving people of Gwer West local government on the allegation of a killing of an army officer where two lives and over 300 houses were burnt down.

He described the reprisal by the military as lawless, uncivilized, brutal and a calculated attempt to provoke the law abiding citizens of Gwer West.

Professor Aliegba who was visibly angry over the military’s action said he is not comfortable with the present level of insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in Benue.

He added that as it stands now, the people of Agatu, Guma, Logo, Okpokwu, Gwer West, Kwande and Ukum Local Government areas are under siege and appealed to the federal, state governments and relevant security operatives including, Army, Police Department of State Services (DSS) and others to stop the senseless killings in Benue State.

Prof. Aliegba further called on the state government to set up internally displaced camps in Gwer West where presently inhabitants in nine out of fifteen council wards are moving helter-skelter in Naka town without shelter.

The former commissioner in Benue State, who also called for a thorough investigation into the incident that led to the loss of lives, called on Non-Governmental Organizations, public-spirited individuals and the international community to come to the aid of IDPs as well as ensure rehabilitation and resettlement of the areas devastated by the herders crisis in the state.

He advised army never to deviate from their primary responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country Nigeria as failure to do so will force the citizens to heed to the statement credited to General Theophilus Danjuma of self-defense.

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