The ongoing battle against the Boko Haram sect has continued to gulp thousands of litres of aviation fuel as military operatives bombard the terrorists.
The Nigerian Air Force yesterday its air operations against Boko Haram in the North East has gulped over 1.03 million litres of aviation fuel from its reserve, The Nation reports.
It added that said its aircraft operations in the Operation Lafiya Dole component have peaked at about 1077 hours so far. According to the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, the nation’s air power can now be projected effectively beyond the country.
Air Marshal Abubakar disclosed this in Abuja during the opening of strategic meeting with Air Force Branch Chiefs, Air Officers Commanding and Field Commanders at the Air Force Headquarters.
He warned elements of the Boko Haram insurgent groups to have a rethink on their activities in the Northeast, stressing that air operations within the coming weeks against them would be too hot for them to endure.
The Air Force Chief also said he had deployed a team of medical personnel from the service to Makurdi, to attend to victims of last week’s flood in Benue State.
Air Marshal Abubakar who said the meeting was aimed at seeking possible ways of moving the service forward in line with contemporary expectations, disclosed that his administration had graduated 16 trained pilots at the Flying School Kaduna.
He noted that the feat was made possible after 33 years due to some critical challenges within the institution.
He said: “We have done a lot in the last few months in terms of the structure of the Nigerian Air Force,in terms of training,in terms of capacity building and in terms of maintenance.
“Reports from units indicate that we are really making substantial progress as regards responsibilities assigned to us by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The uniqueness about this set of cadets is that this nation s the first time in 32 years that the Nigerian Air Force is graduating cadets from 401 Flying Training School Kaduna,“ he said.
Speaking further, Abubakar said: "In the past years,we used to graduate officers,officers graduate from Primary Flying Training in Kaduna.
But by the special grace of God and with the commitment of the Air Officer Training Commanding, the Commander and our late colleague commander, Group Captain Adanu Ochai, who was the Commanding officer of the flying wing,we have been able reverse the train.
“With the graduation of these cadets now,we are looking forward to the day when we will have cadets as instructor pilots.It has happened in the past and it’s going to happen again.”
He added: ”Also since we came,we have brought into the service over 1900 recruits, who are supposed to join us in the service to support us to tackle the challenges facing our nation.
“In addition to this, about 106 Direct Short Service cadets have graduated and they have been posted already to different units of the service.
“It is also gratifying to note that we have projected air power beyond Nigeria.The C130 has contacted a number of flights to deliver relief materials to Sierra Leone
“I believe so much has been achieved but we need to evaluate all that we set out to achieve. We are not yet done,we must redouble our efforts especially in the North East.
“I know we have commenced operations in the North East which is aimed at further degrading the Boko Haram. We are going to massively dominate the entire area and make it extremely difficult for anybody that is there that is a criminal who wants to come out to kill innocent Nigerians.”
On what the service has done in its humanitarian programme, Abubakar said:
“In our humanitarian programme,we have 241 IDPs patients have been attended to free of charge.
“I have been briefed by our Chief of Medical Services today that our medical team has been deployed to Makurdi to provide medical services to the indigenes of Benue State that have been affected by recent flood.”