PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari,Monday, said only the military cannot end the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the country.
This was even as he fingered politics as the root cause of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
Buhari said successful counterinsurgency operations required what he called “unity of efforts across multiple Ministries, Departments and Agencies covering political, economic, law enforcement, intelligence and of course the military.”
The president,who spoke in Abuja,while delivering a keynote address at the maiden Nigerian Air Force International Air Power Seminar with the theme “Air Power in Irregular Warfare: A Framework for Understanding and Responding”,however,reminded that his vision was to build a stable and prosperous Nigeria that would be the pride of future generations.
Noting that his dream cannot be accomplished without peace, stability and security, he enjoined Nigerians to embrace reforms that will entrench true democracy in Nigeria’s polity.
“Successful counterinsurgency operations would therefore require unity of efforts across multiple Ministries, Departments and Agencies covering political, economic, law enforcement, intelligence and of course the military, in what is popularly called whole of the nation approach.
“In this regard, we have mobilised relevant agencies and international organisations to support the counterinsurgency effort in order to ensure success,”he said.
“It is common knowledge that even though we require substantial military input in combating an insurgency, its root cause is inherently political in nature,”he added.
He spoke further:”This seminar is quite timely, in that since the outbreak of the Boko Haram crisis in the North East of Nigeria, the Nigerian Air Force and indeed the armed forces of Nigeria have been engaged in conducting counter insurgency operations that have challenged the Services’ doctrine, tactics, training, Order of Battle and force protection architecture.
“Seminars like this are thus, necessary for armed forces like the Nigerian Air Force to draw from the experiences of other armed forces that have either previously or are currently engaged in counter insurgency operations.
“I must therefore commend the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar, for this initiative.”
He said his administration was committed to diversifying our economy, adding,”we have been partnering with other stronger economies to attract the much need Foreign Direct Investment.”
He further said:” We are also looking at alternate means of generating electricity to power our industries and meet domestic demand.
“I assure you all that a lot has been achieved in this regard and we are putting in more effort in order to achieve more.
“This is to ensure that we build an economically prosperous, politically stable, socially just and truly democratic Nigeria, where security of lives and property is guaranteed.
“However, no economy can thrive in an insecure environment. It is in realisation of this, that our Government considers it of high priority to develop the capacity of our armed forces and indeed that of all security agencies.
“We are committed to enhancing the welfare of all service personnel to enable them give their utmost in their service to the nation.
“We are also committed to ensuring that our armed forces are appropriately trained and equipped to deal with the contemporary challenges of a globalised world, of which insurgency and terrorism have become of greatest concern.
“In the last few years, Government’s effort at reprofessionalizing the armed forces for improved performance has yielded positive results.
“The provision of modern equipment and motivation of personnel through enhanced welfare is ongoing and I am aware that training activities within the armed forces has improved tremendously.
“We will continue to support the drive to modernize the armed forces through enhanced budgetary allocation in their quest to meet the constitutional demands of protecting Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. I therefore charge the armed forces, particularly the Nigerian Air Force not to rest on its oars in fulfilling
Speaking further,he said:”It is important to stress that there has been steady improvement in the security situation in the North East where the Boko Haram activities have been confined in recent times. We have denied them the ability to hold territory and the freedom of movement to operate at will and they now resort to skeletal attacks on soft targets.
” Our thoughs and prayers are always with the victims and families of the Boko Haram atrocities. We remain committed to ensuring that the crisis comes to an ends, while making the North East and indeed all parts of Nigeria safe for all to live and prosper. Let me, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces once again assure the military that I will continue to ensure appropriate funding for our armed forces in order to enhance capacity building and deepen professionalism.
“As I conclude, let me express my profound appreciation to all the countries represented at this gathering especially our partners and friends that have contributed in one way or the other towards the success of our counterinsurgency operations. It is hoped that the quality of papers to be delivered and subsequent discussions would be highly beneficial to the Nigerian Air Force in particular, the Nigerian armed forces and Nigeria in general. ”
On his part, Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali,commended the efforts of the Nigerian Air Force for what it was expending in support of the counterinsurgency operations, saying the development was instrumental in curtailing the insurgents and making life more meaningful for the victims.
While emphasizing the joint and indeed interministerial nature of counterinsurgency operations, he thanked airmen and airwomen of the Nigerian Air Force for the “consistent and professional manner in which they have handled these operations.”
He said he was optimistic that the seminar would further provide new options for the air force in its counterinsurgency operations based on experiences from other countries.
“This seminar perfectly fits into the Ministry of Defence’s vision of ensuring synergy and cooperation not just within the Services but across ministerial boundaries in support of the nations political objectives. With the support of the Federal Government we are doing our best to ensure optimum utilization of resources in the procurement of equipment and other resources that are required by the Services in prosecuting the counterinsurgency operations,”he added.
Earlier,in his welcome address, Chief of Air Staff, Air Mashal Sadique Abubakar, while noting that the Nigerian Air Force had for several years hosted the Air Expo among other event on the security situation in Nigeria, he, however,said the rapidly changing dynamics in the international arena and the changing approach to warfare required careful understanding of the threats and response options available for the projection of air power in addressing National Security imperatives.
This ,he said, necessitated the hosting of the event.
“We therefore deem it necessary to host this International Air Power Seminar to serve as a platform for exchange of ideas on the way forward.
“The changing character of warfare has imposed the need for a change in the way armed forces approach warfare. While the engagement in conventional or regular warfare remains a possibility, the global predominant threat to nations has become more irregular in nature. Irregular warfare by its nature is asymmetric, and it covers a wide range of activities with insurgency and counter-insurgency operations at its core,”he added.
According to him,”Since the beginning of this decade, despite many challenges associated with this type of warfare, the Nigerian Air Force has over the years actively employed air power in dealing with security challenges facing the nation. ”
The three-day event has participants from Colombia, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, France, Liberia, Morocco, Guinea Bisau, Turkey, Cameroon, Niger, Kenya, Senegal, Chad and the United States of America in attendance.