Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that his government since inception in 2015 has succeeded in adequately equipping the security agencies as well as subduing the activities of terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements in the country.
Speaking in Abuja on Thursday at a ceremony attended by two former leaders of the country, General Yakubu Gowon and Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the President declared that upon his assumption of office in May, 2915, the nation’s security situation was greatly challenged by the activities of violent non-state actors.
According to him: “Today, I am pleased to specially note that the situation has tremendously improved and I wish to also proudly highlight that we have made remarkable progress in the fight against insurgents, militants, oil bunkers, kidnappers, and other criminal elements in the country.
“This administration has achieved a remarkable transformation of the military in the areas of fighting power, training, operations, manpower, remunerations, and medical services. These are in addition to maintenance efficiency, accommodation, and expansion of forces. The improvements in these areas have collectively enhanced the Army’s capacity to effectively carry out its constitutional mandate,’’ he further said.
He noted that the robust plan to improve the security architecture of the country had been realized, with the upgrading of hardware, building of facilities, training, and equipping of staff and officers, and structuring of a welfare system that caters for more than 50,000 children of fallen heroes.
The President said he instituted the recruitment of 60,000 soldiers into the Armed Forces, and thousands graduated from the Nigerian Defense Academy and other security institutions to tighten security.
President Buhari presented 81 new, symbolic flags to the various units of the Nigerian Army.
His words: “As an administration, we have demonstrated commitment to increasing the strength of the Armed Forces in my resolve to secure the country’s challenges. It is instructive to state that from 2015 when I was sworn in as the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Federal Republic of Nigeria, I facilitated the recruitment of over 60,000 soldiers from Depot Nigerian Army aside from thousands commissioned from the Nigerian Defense Academy Kaduna.’’
The President Buhari, who endorsed 81 flags for the various units of the Army, noted that the fighting power of our military was at a low ebb as of May 2015, adding “However, seven years later, its fighting power has increased significantly making it fourth in ranking among African militaries as against seventh in 2015.’’
He said interventions and yearly budgetary allocations to the Army, between 2020 and 2022 alone, had been able to procure hundreds of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, Troops Carrying Vehicles, utility vehicles, tanks, and Armoured Personnel Carriers to augment those earlier procured.
“From 2017 to 2022, significant numbers of new fighting and utility vehicles along with supporting artillery guns, machine guns, rifles, and corresponding ammunition were acquired and inducted into various theatres of operations. This translates to a significant increment in the Army’s equipment holding since 2015.
“With the significant improvement in the fighting power as a result of the procurement of equipment and mission-specific training, the Army was empowered to rejig its operations. Accordingly, the Army has restructured the conduct of its operations to meet current realities.
“The quantum of platforms inducted into the Army since 2015 had enabled troops to take the battle to the terrorists and criminals, particularly in the North East resulting in the recapture of territories hitherto held by the insurgents,’’ the President stated.
President Buhari told the gathering of top security chiefs, traditional rulers, and top government officials, who witnessed the ceremony, that creation of the Army Aviation was one of the major aspects of the ongoing expansion process in the Nigerian Army.
According to him: “The renewed vigor for the operationalization of the Army Aviation emanated from a strong desire to effectively tackle contemporary security challenges across the country. This unit, when fully operationalized, will provide rapid deployment, close air support, casualty evacuation, and prompt delivery of logistics supply, among other roles.”
The President said the efforts of the Administration paid-off with records of unprecedented successes, evident in the increased number of neutralized insurgents and those that voluntarily surrendered alongside their families for deradicalization and rehabilitation through Operation Safe Corridor.
“This feat has continued to be replicated in other theatres of operation within the country leading to the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons to their ancestral homes and restoration of economic activities in addition to the contribution of the Nigerian Army to global peace through Peace Support Operations.
“In the area of troops’ welfare, this administration has facilitated the approval of Manual for Financial Administration which has greatly enhanced the pay and allowances of troops. This has no doubt boosted troops’ morale and enhanced their zeal to discharge their constitutional mandate.
“Furthermore, in line with my resolve to cater for the families of deceased personnel, over 50,000 children and wards of personnel who died in active service are on the Nigerian Army scholarships from 2015 to date,’’ he stated.
On infrastructural development, the President said the administration had made determined efforts to surmount the deficit in accommodation and other amenities. As the strength of the Army increased, special interventions were made to construct new barracks accommodations and renovate the old ones.
“So far, hundreds of new blocks of accommodation were constructed and thousands of the old housing units were renovated and remodeled in various formations and units across the country between 2016 and 2022.
“Currently, massive construction works are ongoing in the new Muhammadu Buhari Barracks, Abuja, and other barracks to provide the requisite offices, houses, and facilities to cater for the increasing strength of the Army personnel,’’ he noted.
President Buhari commended the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, and all the other Service Chiefs and heads of all paramilitary organizations for their commitment and selfless service to this nation.
“The Nigerian Army that we celebrate today, would not have been able to discharge its responsibilities optimally including today’s Trooping and Presentation of Colors without your collaborative support,’’ he said.
President Buhari noted that the colors he presented to the units were revered symbols of the identity of a unit, and display a regiment’s battle honors or those inherited from predecessors while playing huge roles in the operational successes of their regiments.
He explained that the last Trooping and Presentation of Colors Parade was held in 2007, and since then new units had been established and operationalized in line with the increasing commitments of the Army.
“Additionally, existing colors have been extensively involved in multiple operations in various geo-political zones of the country as well as foreign countries, hence deserving of retirement. Today’s ceremony is a continuation of our effort to re-invigorate the fighting spirit of our troops through the inculcation of greater pride in their units.
“Let me use this medium to sincerely commend the officers and men of the Army, all members of the Armed Forces and other security agencies for their exceptional performances in the various operations across the country,’’ the President added.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja