Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar has expressed the commitment of the Nigerian Airforce NAF to swiftly eliminating the remnants of insurgents in the North East, saying members of the sect are already surrendering in large numbers.
Abubakar spoke on Friday in Abuja at a media parley to unveil activities for the 52nd anniversary of the Nigerian AirForce.
He said although there are still pockets of insurgent attacks on soft targets, the battle is already being won, urging local communities to offer credible intelligence to security operatives.
“Looking at where we are coming from, I think we have done substantially well. In those days in 2014, you had convoy of vehicles moving round villages and killing Nigerians but it is no longer so.
“I believe that very soon, God’s willing, we shall come to the end of this problem. We are at the tail end of this operation” he said.
Abubakar added that available intelligence showed that many of the terrorists are exhausted and want to stop fighting. “Some of them are trapped and they do not know how to come out”, he said, adding that intelligence has it that the group is now divided.
According to him, it was this development that made the Defence Headquarters to create a “safe corridor” for repentant Boko Haram fighters, saying the corridor is for those willing to surrender their arms and be reintegrated into the society. He was however quick to add that the military was not offering amnesty to anyone as only the political authorities can take such decision.
“So, we came up with the idea of ‘safe corridor’. If you want to come out, come out and then we profile you, keep you under watch before taking the next step. So many of them are surrendering in large numbers. We have seen that they are surrendering because they know that there is no escape”, he stated.
On whether the leader of the group is still alive or using a look-alike in releasing propaganda videos, the Airforce Chief said the Defence Intelligence Agency DIA is currently analysing the latest Shekau video to make “sense” of what is contained therein.
He said despite the enormous challenges caused by the situation in the Northeast, the airforce is not overwhelmed. He said in the last nine months, fighter jets in the area have flown for over 3, 000 hours which translates to a consumption of 3.7m litres of Jet A1 fuel.
Also, he said over a thousand personnel were trained within the last nine months both locally and internationally in order to meet up with current demands of the job.
Abubakar also hinted of the resolve of the airforce to embark on certain local maintenance of its equipment as some of her young officers now have PhD’s in aeronautical and space engineering while more are undergoing further studies.
According to him, the NAF has invested heavily in the area of Research and Development while also collaborating with about 15 Nigerian universities.
With such collaboration, the NAF now produces its own electrolytes and hydraulic diaphragms, rather than having to wait for six months to procure same from abroad.
He said highlights of the 52nd celebration which holds from April 12-15 in Bauchi state would be lectures, novelty match, flypast, CAS open forum, reunion variety night, CAS awards, jumat prayers, church service and humanitarian outreach.
There will also be a reunion of serving and retired officers in order to brainstorm on key challenges, hence the team of the anniversary, “Reuniting for Enhanced Service Delivery and Operational Effectiveness”.
Abubakar said lessons drawn from the reunion would form the basis for the review of its tactics in tackling emerging challenges in the 21st century.
Established in 1964 by an Act of Parliament, the Nigerian AirForce was designed to be a full complement of Nigeria’s military defence system.
The airforce was also to ensure fast and versatile mobility of the armed forces of Nigeria to provide support to sea-borne and ground forces of the country.