In spite of the latest attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno and Adamawa States that claimed several lives, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, believes terrorists have been seriously degraded by troops of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
He expressed this optimism during the passing out ceremony of 99 officers of the Direct Short Service Course 25 at the Nigerian Air Force Base in Kaduna State.
The Defence Minister, who reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to building capacities of the Nigerian Armed Forces to enable them perform their statutory functions, asked the graduating cadets to live above board.
They were 99 graduating cadets of the 25 Direct Short Service Course of the Nigerian Air Force drawn from different academic background such as medicine, engineering, pharmacy, piloting among other disciplines.
For six months, the officers were subjected to rigorous physical fitness and weapon training to develop their endurance level, and also received lectures on counter-terrorism operations.
The aim is to transform civilian graduates into proud gentlemen officers of the Nigerian Air Force.
The occasion opened with a colourful parade after the Minister of Defence, who was also the reviewing officer of the parade, arrived.
The officers marched in slow and quick time before awards were presented to deserving cadets.
Addressing the newly commissioned officers, Mr Dan-Ali told them to be prepared to play their part in defending the territorial integrity of the nation and protecting the lives and property of citizens.
“You must display a high level of competence and patriotism for the support service of the Nigerian Air Force,” he told them.
While reminding the officers that the Nigerian Air Force operates on a philosophy of zero tolerance for misconduct and cowardice, the minister told them that the authorities would demand nothing short of the very best from them. He also implored them to respect both military and civil authorities as well as resist the temptation of taking laws into their hands.
“When this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came on board, our goal was mainly to build capacities in all areas to enable the Nigerian Armed Forces adequately perform their statutory tasks. Ever since, we have remained focused, as evidenced in the overall performance of the Nigerian Armed Forces in our effort in tackling the enormous security challenges confronting our dear nation.
“For the passing out cadets, while you may have every reason to be proud for what you have achieved, it is important to bear in mind that this is yet the beginning of another journey. I am confident that, armed with the quality of training you have just received, you will confidently face the task ahead with great commitment and due diligence.
“You are aware that the military profession requires absolute discipline, loyalty, perseverance and sacrifice especially at this crucial point in our history.
“Let me state here that you may be called at all times to make sacrifices to ensure the peace and stability of the nation. This call will require you to exhibit courage, commitment and patriotism in the discharge of your duties.
“As you are aware, the Armed Forces of Nigeria has made tremendous effort to stamp out terrorism and insurgency perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents in the North East,” he told the cadets.
The minister further emphasised that their efforts were needed in addressing issues of cattle rustling, renewed militancy in Niger Delta, kidnapping and other acts of criminality across the country.
He pointed out that the Nigerian Air Force, together with other sister services, was currently at the forefront of the efforts to rid the nation of these criminal elements and restore normalcy, stressing that it was gratifying to see the capacity of the insurgents to launch coordinated massive attacks had been sufficiently degraded through the coordinated effort of the armed forces and other security agencies.
“Therefore, as you pass out today, I urge all of you to be prepared to play your part in defending the territorial integrity of our great nation and protecting lives and properties. You must remember that as commissioned officers of the Nigerian Air Force, you will be expected to add value to our society, to respect the dignity of all law abiding Nigerians and to be decisive in dealing with those elements that are undermining our national security and sovereignty.
“Your initial training was designed to prepare you for the challenging career in the Nigerian Air Force. As specialists in your various fields, you are now expected to bring to bear your expertise on the overall service delivery, knowing full well that the Air Force, as a highly technical service, requires very knowledgeable and highly skilled manpower to operate and maintain its array of sophisticated equipment,” he highlighted.
On the prevailing economic recession, the minister told the gathering that the government, through appropriate policies, had re-ordered its priorities to optimise the use of available resources.
After the parade of the new cadets, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, told reporters that the commissioning of the new officers into the service was part of the Federal Government’s effort in curbing terrorism through injection of fresh hands into the force.
”These gentlemen and ladies came into Air Force about six months ago as civilians. As professionals, doctors, engineers , lawyers and so on. But today, they are leaving not only as professionals but as professional airmen and women who stripple and assemble rifle, who can put on the rifle to defend this nation And also ensure that Nigerians go about their normal business without fear.
“So, we are really happy to have them. We are expecting another 105 very soon in another six months, making a total of 210 and then in 2017, we are expecting that we could have more again.
“Some are coming from NDA while we are training some locally here especially the professionals,” he stated.
The Chief of Air Staff also told reporters that the northeast operation was going on very well, saying that the military is doing everything humanly possible to ensure that Nigerians are secured.
“Isolated cases of bombings like I told you last time are things that cannot be totally eradicated. What is important is that we all have a role to play as Nigerians. We need intelligence. There is no way a fighter aircraft can dictate a 13 year old girl carrying bomb,” he added.
The Direct Short Service course is designed for graduates from approved tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Its curriculum covers both military and general service subjects, which broadly introduces the cadets to military regimentation as well as Nigerian Air Force operations and administration.