The Pakistani Chief Of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sohail Aman, has pledged to help Nigeria defeat terrorism and insurgency, especially in the north east.
He recommend the use of what he called the three d’s approach: deterrence, dialogue and development.
Air Marshal Aman explained that with the approach, the insurgents must first be relentlessly weakened to a point where they would be compelled to dialogue; a tactic he says Pakistan has employed in nearly two decades of fighting terrorism.
He also said development of the area of operation must be carried out by government authorities to ensure livelihood for the persons who might have been affected in the crisis.
He further added that neglecting this important aspect, negates all other efforts.
According to him, the terrorists tactics change regularly, and so must the strategies used to hunt them down such as real time intelligence, accurate surveillance, quick response and precision strikes.
The Pakistani Airforce Boss, is on an official visit to Nigeria for series of collaboration and exchange on matters of security and defense.
Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral Samuel Alade, has said that the command has taken advantage of the visit, to take a look at the Pakistan experience of over 15 years, in their fight against terrorism and insurgency and find lessons Nigeria might be able to learn.
The Nigerian Airforce (NAF), has increased the number of aircrafts in its fleet with the procurement of four Super Mushak Trainer Aircraft from Pakistan, for the training of student pilots.
Speaking during the induction and handing over of the aircraft in Kaduna, Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, and his Pakistani counterpart, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, explained that the new platforms would boost the fight against insurgency.
He noted that the latest acquisition of the Super Mushak aircraft would equally impact positively on pilot training efforts of the Nigerian Airforce and also in line with President Muhammdu Buhari’s commitment to equip the service for enhanced professionalism.
The Super Mushshak is a military trainer / light attack aircraft designed and manufactured by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
It was designed to provide primary flight training to the pilots of the PAF Academy and also could be used for both military and civilian missions.
The symbolic commissioning of the aircraft at the 301 Flying Training School in Kaduna marks the official takeover of the new platforms by the Nigerian Airforce.
Fight Against Terrorism
The Pakistan Chief of Air Staff who handed over the aircraft to his Nigerian counterpart, described the induction of the aircraft as a valuable addition to the capacity building of the Nigerian Airforce and in the fight against terrorism.
According to him, “the existing global security scenario coupled with the changing dynamics of warfare calls for enhanced partnership among nations and their armed forces.
“Certainly, the induction of Super Mushak is a leap forward towards promoting strategic partnership.
“Indeed, both Pakistan and Nigeria are facing similar challenges and our countries are determined to maintain peace, stability and security.
“The armed forces of both countries have played a pivotal role in the war against terror.
Aman went on to compliment the government of Nigeria and its armed forces for resolute commitment and relentless efforts for elimination of the menace of terrorism.
“I am confident that together we can befittingly respond to these challenges. The convergence of our perceptions on different global issues ensures tremendous scope for our two nations for greater understanding and closer cooperation.
“I am proud to share that the armed forces of Pakistan have rendered unparalleled sacrifices and made tremendous contributions to eliminating the scourge of terrorism and restoring peace in the country.
“Our successes have received worldwide acclaim. It is pertinent to mention that in our more than a decade long war against terrorism, Pakistan Air Force has gained unique experiences in the domain of counter terrorism air operations, and we have established an air power of excellence,” Pakistains Airforce boss said.
Mr Abubakar on the other hand, sees the latest acquisition of new trainer aircraft is dawn of a new era.
According to him, “the NAF has made tremendous progress in platform reactivation, training and welfare of personnel.
“In the area of platform reactivation, the NAF has restored 15 airplanes and helicopters to flying status in the last 17 months. Efforts are also at an advanced stage to reactivate 4 additional airplanes that will very soon be serviceable and deployed for operations.
“Similarly, the government has approved the procurement/induction of 4 gunships, four medium airlift/utility helicopters, three light attack aircraft and 10 primary trainers, part of which we are inducting today.
“By the end of the first quarter of 2017, the NAF would have 21 additional new platforms in its inventory.
“We are highly excited of this development because the last time the NAF was given such number of platforms at a time was in the early 80s,” Nigeria’s Air Marshall said.
During the event, a total of 14 new pilots who have completed their training were decorated as flying officers. One after another, the pilots filed out for decoration by some dignitaries who graced the occasion.
The 301 Flying Training School Kaduna is Nigeria’s foremost institution for training pilots in the Nigerian Airforce.
Since its establishment in 1964, it has churned out hundreds of pilots including the current Chief of the Air Staff.
With the acquisition of these latest aircraft and the graduation of a new set of pilots into the Nigerian Air force, it is expected that the nation looks up to them as critical stakeholders in response to the national security imperatives.
The Yobe State Governor has sworn-in new Council Chairmen and mandated them to support the on-going salary verification exercise to eliminate ghost workers.
Administering the oath of office on the new appointees on Thursday, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam urged them to carryout a bio-metric exercise of all Local Government workers and fully implement the approved policies arising from the report of the exercise.
He also asked the chairmen to be prudent with the scarce resources and to concentrate only on provision of essential services such as water supply, healthcare services, and education among others.
The Governor urged the incoming officials to consolidate on the successes recorded so far by the outgoing chairmen, whom he lauded for their efforts towards developing their areas.
He also praised President Muhammadu Buhari for the significant improvement in the on-going fight against terror and appealed to the people of the state to accord security agents the desired cooperation.
“I would like to expressed my gratitude to the almighty Allah that since the inception of the Buhari administration at the centre, we have witnessed significant improvement in the on-going fight against insurgents and other acts of terrorism in the northeast region, in particular and the nation at large.
“We thank Mr President for his untiring efforts to bring the activities of the insurgency to an end. My appeal to the entire people of Yobe State is to continue to pray for the full restoration of peace and security in the state and the country as a whole,” he said.
Governor Gaidam also thanked the Speaker and members of the Yobe State House of Assembly on the approval granted for the appointment of the new chairmen.
He stressed that he would continue to count on their support and cooperation in the implementation of the policies and programmes of his administration.
The appointment of the new Caretaker Committee Chairmen of the 17 Local Governments in the state was sequel to the expiration of tenure of elected Council Chairmen in December 2015.
The Nigerian government says it has begun mobilising the military and task forces to stop the sabotage of oil facilities and kidnapping of citizens for ransom in Nigeria’s coastal areas.
At a meeting on Monday in Abuja, with a delegation from the United States Institute of Peace, President Muhammadu Buhari also said that his administration was giving the highest priority to the resettlement of displaced persons and rehabilitation of infrastructure in the northeast.
Over two million persons have been displaced in the northeast region by the over six years insurgency by the Boko Haram sect.
The US had commended President Buhari’s on his fight against corruption and he assured the delegation that his administration’s ongoing war against corruption would be fought within the ambit of the law.
Nigeria’s military has been accused of violating human rights in the ongoing war against the Boko Haram terrorists, but President Buhari said “mechanisms have been put in place to ensure respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism.
“We attach great importance to human rights. If there are breaches, they will be investigated and dealt with,” President Buhari stated.
The Nigerian President welcomed the growing international support, especially from the United States and Europe, for Nigeria’s efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
He also expressed happiness with the support of Nigerians for the cardinal programmes of his government, the security of the country, the war against corruption and revival of the economy, which he said would continue to be vigorously pursued.
In her response, the leader of the delegation, Miss Nancy Lindborg, applauded the progress being made by the Buhari-led administration in ensuring greater security in Nigeria.
She promised the continued assistance of the Institute for the reconstruction and development work going on in Nigeria.
Troops of the 5 Strike Group Battalion of the Nigerian Air Force, have been enjoined not to relent in their fight against insurgency even as the Christmas festivities continue.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadiq, made the appeal on Saturday when he visited the troops in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State.
Air Marshall Sadiq commended the officers and men of the battalion for their efforts in curtailing terrorism in the north-east, especially in providing logistics support in the operations.
“The purpose of my visit to Yola is first and foremost to convey President Muhammadu Buhari’s greetings to our pilots and technicians who have been doing an excellent job in the north-east to deal with the internal security of insurgency problem we are having here in the north-east.
“The honourable Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff are in Damaturu, I was with them yesterday (Friday) in Maiduguri while they were with the troops in Damaturu, I am here (in Yola) to convey the greetings of Mr President to our pilots and technicians and to also have the opportunity to also celebrate the Christmas with them.
“In the past, you find the terrorists moving in 15, 20 Hilux vehicles attacking one village after the other, I’m sure you haven’t heard of that since the directive was given.
“The terrorists are now more or less suicide bombers because they can’t really move in large number to occupy our territory and kill our people.
“I think, to a large extent, we have substantially degraded their capacity and have been able to meet the deadline. What we are doing now, is just to improve what we have been able to achieve”, the Air Chief said.
President Mohammadu Buhari says his administration will continue to provide all the necessary support needed to meet the operational and logistic needs of the military in the fight against insurgency.
The President made the statement on Friday at the graduation of the 23 participants of the National War College of Nigeria in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.
President Buhari saluted the sacrifices of the soldiers in the fight against Boko Haram.
He also condoled with the victims of terrorism and gave an assurance to Nigerians and the International Community that he remained committed to bringing insurgency to an end as well as returning normalcy to the country.
President Buhari charged the graduating students of the National War College to brace up to the challenges of the times.
Highlight of the ceremony was the conferment of the Fellow of the Defence College on the 159 graduates.
The fellowship award of the college in addition to other considerations qualify participants to pursue post graduate programmes with the affiliate university, the University of Ibadan.
The President also gave out awards to deserving participants for their excellent performance in research works, as well as some alumni of the institution who have contributed to the growth of the college.
He, in turn, received an award for integrity from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence.
South African troops as well as other foreign soldiers have joined in Nigeria’s offensive against Boko Haram insurgents in the nation’s north east region, engaging in ground combat and flying combat air sorties.
According to VOA, the Federal Government explained that the foreign military personnel were only advisers accompanying military equipment purchased from South Africa, Russia and Ukraine.
Activities of the extremist group seeking to impose Islamic rule in the region have caused the death of several thousands and displaced over 1 million people in northern Nigeria.
“One soldier, who is living alongside the foreign personnel in a barracks in the city of Maiduguri, identified the foreigners as South Africans, Ukrainians and others. He said they were flying aircraft from the Maiduguri airport.”
The corporal, who was also based in the barracks in Maiduguri, said South African pilots had been flying combat missions using Nigerian jets, surveillance planes and helicopters, along with jets he said appeared to be South African.
“All the aerial attacks are being done by the white soldiers using Nigerian and hired military aircraft,” he said.
Another officer, who served as a top aide to the Commander of a Brigade in Borno state, told VOA there were between 100 and 150 foreign soldiers, mainly South African, working out of Maiduguri and they were flying fighter jets daily, out of the Maiduguri airport.
Niger’s parliament has unanimously approved sending troops to the northern part of Nigeria, as part of a regional offensive against the Islamist group (Boko Haram), that has launched several cross-border attacks in recent days.
Security sources said soldiers in Diffa, a town on Niger’s border with Nigeria, shot dead a suicide bomber heading on foot towards a military base and warned that Boko Haram had infiltrated groups of civilians who had crossed into Niger.
Nigeria, Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon agreed at the weekend to send a joint force of 8,700 troops to battle the militant group, which had killed thousands of people and kidnapped hundreds more in its bid to carve out a caliphate.
The general elections in Nigeria that was earlier scheduled to hold on February 14, had been shifted to March 28 by the electoral body.
In the last few days, Niger has massed more than 3,000 troops in Diffa on its southeastern border with Nigeria, awaiting approval to go on the offensive.
Niger’s Parliamentary Speaker, Adamou Salifou, said on Monday, after the vote that was supported by all 102 deputies present, that “the pooling of the efforts and resources of concerned countries would contribute without doubt, to crushing this group which shows scorn, through its barbaric acts, for the Muslim religion.”
On Monday, Boko Haram militants reportedly bombed Diffa leaving five people dead. This was its third attack in the area in four days. It also carried out raids in neighboring Cameroon, where a bus full of passengers was kidnapped.
The residents in Diffa, which lies about few miles away from the territory controlled by Boko Haram, had long spoken of sleeper cells infiltrating their communities.
Several security sources warned that the militants, who had been living among civilians in northern Nigeria, were among those who had fled to Niger with them.
“Most of the Boko Haram fighters who have operated in Diffa have come from these displaced.
“They are Nigerian refugees or people from Niger who had been in Nigeria.
“There are real networks,” a security officer said.
An intensification of Boko Haram violence near Lake Chad, which straddles Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, had sent tens of thousands of Nigerians, fleeing across the border.
Diffa was mainly quiet on Tuesday but residents were scrambling for buses out.
“The situation in Diffa is very serious, We will do everything to protect the population.
“We will wage war against Boko Haram all the way to its last hideout,” Niger Defense Minister, Karidio Mahamadou, said on a private radio station.
Professor at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Charles Dokubo, on Monday spoke on Nigeria’s bid to purchase arms and ammunition to help in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency; As well as the relationship between Nigeria and the United States, in light of the U.S’s refusal to sell Nigeria arms.
Speaking on Monday’s edition of Sunrise Daily, Professor Dokubo said the United States “have the right to sell to whoever they want to sell arms to,” quickly adding that “we as a nation also have the right to buy arms wherever we can”.
“If you are tied to the apron strings of a particular country and where whenever there’s a crisis they could give excuses why they are not going to sell arms to you, then I think it’s your own fault.
We should have learnt our lessons long ago, as Nigerians” he said.
He berated the United States for claiming it was working in partnership with Nigeria to fight terrorists yet refused to sell the arms needed.
On human rights abuse allegations by the U.S against Nigerian Army, Prof. Dokubo noted that America is the “worst human rights abuser”.
Dokubo disclosed that Nigeria’s options for arms purchase was unlimited as the market is large but added services such as servicing may be an issue. “If you get it from a particular source, then the maintenance of that arms becomes easier but when you have multiple sources of supply, then it becomes difficult”, he said.
He stressed that the arms were needed to fight the Boko Haram terrorists who were killing innocent citizens who had the right to be alive.
He also noted that insurgents who were arrested were prosecuted through the judicial system, which was evidence that the nation respected human rights.
“We have to be very careful. We don’t have to accept whatever they (United States) say”, he insisted.
Speaking on the implication of the situation on the relationship between the United States and Nigeria, Dokubo explained that there would always be disagreements despite a good relationship.
“We’re still working in tandem with the United States; We are part of the anti-terrorists organisation set up by United States, sponsored by the State Department. We are part of it and yet in this situation, we have difference of opinion.
Former Director, Army Legal services, Major-General Muyiwa Badewole (RTD), on Wednesday, warned that the security situation in the North East region of the country may worsen if the State of Emergency is not effected immediately.
Last week, President Goodluck Jonathan’s request to the House of Representatives to extent the State of Emergency was declined as lawmakers urged him to make use of his powers as Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces to deploy troops to the area.
However, Badewole has faulted this move, insisting that a lid should not be placed on the fight against insurgency as it may affect the soldier’s capability to defeat the terrorists.
Analysing the current situation on Sunrise Daily, Badewole said “I admit that the President can deploy troops. I mean, operational use of the Armed Forces is there for him but at the same time, I’ve just told you that there are certain privileges that will hinder the operation.
“You need to carry out cordon and search operations, you need to mount road-blocks, but these are things that people can go and challenge and say you are impinging on my right but some fundamental rights under the constitution are suspended in a State of Emergency,” he noted.
He described insurgency as a specie of “low intensity conflict”, noting that such situations needed perseverance on the part of the troops as well as the populace and political elite.
“Everyone needs to persevere. It doesn’t end quickly,” adding that low intensity conflict has never ended quickly in any part of the world where it has happened”, he said.
He stressed that Nigeria’s case was already moving towards medium-intensity conflict and the “earlier we get it right, that this operation will not end so quickly, the better for all of us; Because we are not in the minds of the perpetrators of these dastardly acts”.
He highlighted that the fight against rebellion in Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, had not been brought to conclusive ends.
He praised the Military for trying their best in light of available resources, he noted that there were three aspects to capability including the conceptual, physical and moral components; Hence, delays to certain requests such as the $1 billion to purchase arms may affect the fight against insurgency.
“In so many countries where State of Emergency had been declared, like in India during the Hindu-Chinese conflict, State of Emergency was in place from 1961 to 1967.
“Similarly, when they had the Hindu-Pakistani war, there was a State of Emergency for another six years also between 1975 to 1977 under Indira Gandhi, there was State of Emergency.
“So here we’ve had State of Emergency for 8 months and everybody is fretting and getting worried.”
Asked if there are measures used in determining the success of an ongoing State of Emergency and the effectiveness of the one in the North East in light of continued attacks by Boko Haram, Badewole noted that some laws are suspended to enable the troops operate effectively.
He highlighted that soldiers can act upon information without having to go through legal procedures such as obtaining search warrants.
The Lake Chad Basin Commission has requested for over eight billion Cefas , which is about two billion naira to fund operations of the Multinational Joint Security Forces organised to fight insurgency in the region.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mister Sanusi Imran Abdullahi told Chiefs of Defence staff from member states in Abuja that the amount will fund urgent requirements of small equipment, and troop welfare in the ongoing fight against terrorism.
Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh believes such collaboration with member states is needed to stop terrorism.
Several meetings were also held between Ministers, Chiefs of Defense Staff, Heads of Security Intelligence from Members of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Republic of Benin to review best strategies in the fight against terrorism.
It will be recalled that in May 2014, President Jonathan and the Heads of State and Government of the neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin Republic resolved at a meeting in Paris to intensify joint efforts to curtail terrorism and violent extremism.
At the Paris Summit hosted by President Francois Hollande of France, President Jonathan and neighbouring Heads of State and Government also agreed to establish joint anti-terrorism patrols and a system of sharing intelligence to support operations against terrorists and other cross-border criminals.
They likewise agreed to create a dedicated team to draw up and advise on the implementation of a regional counter-terrorism strategy under the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
A Security Consultant, Captain Umar Aliyu (Rtd), on Monday, said that Nigeria was not getting any wiser and not learning anything in the fight against insurgency, four years down the line.
Captain Aliyu, who was part of a conversation about the State of the Nation on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, feels that the effort of the authorities in the fight against Boko Haram does seem to be going anywhere.
“I will like to put it this way. If you draw a learning curve on activities as it concerns insurgency since 2011, you will see that we are not learning. A learning curve is simply the graphical representation of a theory which believes that the more you do something (the more) you get better at it. Time and effort should bring about experience.
“But if you look at it, taking it from 2011, four years we are not wiser and don’t seem to get anywhere with the insurgency problem”, Captain Aliyu said.
Reacting to a statement made by the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, who appealed to Nigeria to join the fight against insurgency, Captain Aliyu agreed that the call was spot on, but feels that there had been a litany of responses from politicians, as everyone could predict what government officials would do or say after a bomb blast.
“One becomes forced to believe that there is conspiracy of silence as words are not being matched with deeds.”
He refused to believe that no one knew who the terrorists were and what they want as they had being there long enough and had stated clearly what they want; “We know who they are (Boko Haram) and we know what they want. What we lack is the will to bell the cat and until we do, nothing will work.”
He emphasized that Nigeria loses ground and the terrorists gain ground every single time they score one single disaster in any village.
On the fact that the sect want an Islamic state, Captain Aliyu maintained that this would not be possible as there was nowhere in the present electronic age that one could have an absolutely Islamic state and he was of the opinion that they were renegades who were being sponsored by people who gain political capital from what they were doing.
The retired Nigerian Army officer further said that whatever the religious convictions are, there are bound to be limitation as the world is not flat as far as religion is concerned.
On the belief that the Nigerian military was over stretched to fight insurgency after four years of trying, Rtd Captain Aliyu feels that there were enough men in the armed forces to match the terrorists and Government should be held responsible if the military had indeed become overstretched.
“If our military is overstretched, it is because the leadership don’t listen. In today’s world, we have different types of army which includes the expeditionary, conventional, the national guards and they have their different areas of competence. You don’t have one military that you want to deploy to do every and anything. Even if you have a 100 million men the security force, they will be overstretched.”
He further stated that the military was actually meant to perform a particular role constitutionally and they should be used for it.
He advised the Government to start thinking of ‘outsourcing’ if men are required to handle security situation, citing private military security companies like what is obtained in places such as Afghanistan.
The essence of the private military security companies, according to Rtd Captain Aliyu, is to help support the fighting forces against insurgency and they can be accessed in Nigeria as there are a generation of ex- soldiers out who could be great assets in the fight against terrorism.
He added that the weapons used by the Nigerian security forces were no where near parity to the ones used by the insurgents.
He blamed the Government for not taking advantage of the window of opportunity opened after Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 girls in Chibok. He opined that this was the greatest undoing of the sect that made them to offer to negotiate as they never expected the kind of global and strong condemnation it elicited.
“What I’m trying to say is that in four years we have (had) windows of opportunity that opened momentarily and close. We don’t seem to be learning from them. We don’t seem to cease the moment because our reasoning is beclouded by political, social-economical or cultural issues”, Aliyu said.
He gave example of the recent prisoner exchange with the Talibans by the American Government and highlighted that the move didn’t reduce the Americans as they knew everything about the released Talibans and would monitor their movement with the Interpol all over the world in possession of their data.
He said that Nigeria was not getting anywhere because it is trying to do so many things at once instead of one thing at a time, “We can come together and narrow things down and bit by bit we are going to get things done.”
He was also of the opinion that the closing down of the FCT, Abuja for the World Economic Forum for five days was a reaction of the government to insurgency and not necessarily a response to insurgency.
On how to separate politics or religion from security, Rtd Captain Aliyu said that if he was the security chief, he would do his duty without any religious or political affiliation, but if the powers that be come up to mount a campaign of colony against him, he would walk away.