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Niger governor sympathises with NAF over helicopter crash

He said the helicopter crash, which happened within the mountains of Shinoro was on evacuation mission to Wushishi.

Governor Umar Bago of Niger State. [Twitter:@UmarAB]

Gov. Muhammed Bago of Niger has sympathised with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) over the unfortunate crash of its helicopter that was on evacuation mission in the state on Monday, August 14, 2023.

Bago gave his condolence message when he visited the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, on Tuesday, August 15, in Abuja.

He also sympathised with the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria and the Nigerian Army over the killing of some troops in an ambush, while on clearance operation in Wushishi area of the state.

He said the helicopter crash, which happened within the mountains of Shinoro was on evacuation mission to Wushishi, where some soldiers were ambushed and killed by terrorists.

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The governor thanked the air force for its intervention and support for the people of Niger State in the fight against insurgency and banditry.

“I want to say don’t be tired, thank you very much for what you have been doing.

”Your deployment of both fighter jets and UAVs has been very apt and have supported even the ground troops and our own local vigilante.

“As Oliver twist, please will also ask that we need more.

“So I’ve come here to say that Minna Airport was created as a backup airport to Abuja Airport and that we have one of the longest runways in Nigeria.

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“We are calling on you to please send some detachments and some fighter planes to Mina, so that we can have more rapid responses from where they are very close instead of flying from either Kainji or Kaduna,” he said.

Bago promised to extend more support to the air force in the areas of information sharing and accommodation to enable them to perform their assigned duties effectively.

He said that the government was making efforts to address the root causes of the security challenges in the state, saying there was a symbiotic relationship between the Fulani herdsmen and the miners who are the main actors.

He said the new administration had made effort to bring Fulani into governance through the creation of the Ministry for Nomadic and Pastoral Affairs to look at their activities.

Responding, the air chief appreciated the state government for the support and cooperation that the Nigerian Air Force had been receiving in the state over the years.

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Abubakar said the air force was well aware that Niger State and other states of the North West region were plagued by the threats of banditry, insurgency, and other security challenges.

According to him, these challenges have threatened or have continued to threaten the peace, security and wellbeing of the people.

He assured the governor that the NAF and indeed the armed forces would remain committed, dedicated and undaunted in their efforts at eradicating the security challenges perpetrated by the non-state actors.

Abubakar said the air force had continued to increase the air power commitments to deter the activities of the criminal elements in Niger and the North West region as a whole.

Our approach now is to intensify our activities in tandem with the land forces and to completely eradicate all these criminal elements to at least significantly degrade their combat capability.

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“This is also in tandem with my command philosophy, which is “to transform the Nigerian Air Force into an Agile and Resilient Force which is Capable of Meeting all the Air Power Demands of National Security in all Operational Environments,” he said.

He said that in spite of the commitment, dedication and the efforts that were being put at eradicating the security challenges, there were still a couple of issues that bothered NAF

He said that one of which was the crash of the airplane on Monday.

The fact is that, as long as we operate, as long as we fly airplanes, there will be incidents and accidents.

“In fact, the volume of incidents and accidents is directly proportional to the rates of operations.

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“You will have also observed that in the past couple of years, say five to seven years, we have inducted quite a few platforms in the Nigerian Air Force,” he said.

According to him, the rates of force flying activities have significantly improved.

So if you compare that same with 20 years back, you see that there is a stark difference and sometimes this comes with its own challenges.

“So as long as we fly, we will see some of these challenges and we hope they don’t happen but when they happen we take it and then we deal with it,” he said.

The air chief said that NAF under his command would strive for zero incidence and zero accidents in any operational environment.

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According to him, they are putting a lot of initiatives in place to check it by adopting safety management systems in all operations and operational risk management procedures as well as so many other initiatives.

He agreed with the governor that operating out of Minna would significantly improve effectiveness and efficiency as well increase response time and reduces the time over target.

The CAS emphasised the need for increased government intervention through non-kinetic action, adding that kinetic actions could only resolve 20 to 30 per cent of the internal security issues.

According to him, the remaining 70 to 75 per cent can only be resolved through the whole of government approach.

“So, while we are intensifying our kinetic efforts, it is extremely important that the government embraces the whole-of-government approach in addressing these challenges so that at the end of the day they are completely eradicated.

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“The whole of government approach does deals with good governance, providing education, healthcare, economic opportunities, jobs and the likes.

“I also want to use this opportunity to solicit the support of all Nigerians, especially in the areas of information sharing as we join hands to rid our nation of the threats posed by these enemies of the people.

“Security remains responsibility of all Nigerians and the earlier we realise that and jointly work against the squad of terrorism and other security challenges, the better for our nation,” he said.

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