Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao has assured Nigerians that the end of insurgency and banditry is in sight.
Also, the Senate, through its committee on Air Force, tasked the nation’s military to intensify its onslaughts against insurgents and bandits for the required peace and development in the affected areas.
The positions came three days after a senior army officer, Brigadier-General Dzarma Zirkusu and four soldiers were killed by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists in Askira Uba, Borno state.
Giving the assurance Tuesday during the 2022 budget defence session before the lawmakers, Air Marshal Amao said insurgents of whatever faction, be it Boko Haram or ISWAP, “have been devastatingly decimated and degraded with attendant loss of fighters and weapons, forcing several of them to surrender voluntarily on weekly basis.
“Required onslaughts tactically and strategically are already mapped out to route out remnants of the insurgents attacking villages and military outposts in pretence of still being potent.
“In line with the core mandate of the Air Force and military generally, the territorial integrity of Nigeria is being protected from against the insurgents and bandits who, in no distant time, will be completely be wiped out.”
The Air Force chief further said as the 2021 budgetary allocations given to the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) was judiciously used in prosecuting the war against the insurgents and bandits as well as improving the welfare of officers and men, the 2022 allocations would also be expended judiciously for similar purposes.
“In the face of challenges at hand, prudency and accountability have been the guiding principle of implementation of budgetary allocations by the Nigeria Air Force,” Amao said.
In his remarks before the session went into closed door, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Air Force, Senator Ibn Bala Na’ Allah (APC Kebbi South), tasked the military outfit to use all resources within its disposal in routing out the remnants of the insurgents in particular and make the forests inhabitable for bandits , kidnappers and all forms of criminals .
“The Air Force and by extension the military generally, deserve commendation from Nigerians as far as war against insurgency and banditry are concerned. But Nigerians want these enemies of the nation to be completely defeated as soon as possible.
“For us on this committee and in the National Assembly, required appropriations in terms of procurement of weapons, armaments and enhancement of welfare of officers and men in the military, shall be made since essence of governance itself is security and welfare of citizenry,” the lawmaker said.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has demanded the immediate release of 12 of her members in Zaria local government council, Kaduna state, kidnapped since November 8, 2021.
NULGE National President Comrade Akeem Ambali Olatunji made the demand Tuesday in an interview with journalists in Abuja.
He frowned at the ‘silence’ of the Kaduna state government since their abduction, warning that the union might be forced to take a drastic action nationwide if her plea for the workers’ release fell on deaf ears.
He said nine out of the 12 workers were nursing mothers and married women, stressing that urgent action must be taken to secure the their release without delay.
Olatunji further disclosed that the kidnappers had contacted the families of the victims and were demanding N40million ransom.
On the ill-fated day, the NULGE leader said of the 13 local government workers, one of them-a driver-was released to report the incident to the victims’ families.
“These workers have been in captivity of kidnappers since 8 of November, 2021 thereby causing untold hardship in the mind of the family and the union leadership.
“We are disturbed because Kaduna state government kept mute till now as if all is well, when it has become dangerous for workers to go to work within official working hours or move about within the local government or the state. This calls for great concern.
“This is one of the reasons NULGE has been canvassing for total freedom of local government. Our belief is that if local government is made functional and is directly funded, LGAs have what it takes to tame the tide of insecurity along the rural areas. Our belief is that all security challenges are local. This has further amplified our clamour for actualisation of local autonomy.
“In a state that people are been kidnapped here and there, the state government appears to be helpless and this calls for concern. We are therefore making a serious appeal to the government of Kaduna state to make it a matter of urgency and importance the need to work assiduously towards the release of our members in good health.
“Workers must have the freedom to work, to move about within their locality. So we are therefore sounding this as our first plea, if this is not done, the union would not wait and watch our helpless members being harassed, kidnapped, raped and killed,” Olatunji said.
The union leader further said: “The kidnappers have contacted the families of their victims and are demanding for N40million ransom for the remaining 12 persons. 13 of them were kidnapped in a local government official vehicle and one of them was freed, the driver to go and tell the families.
“You see, the scenario was made worse because of the shutdown of telecommunications in Kaduna state. It has further affected easy communication between the people and even ability to give warning signals to members of our staff and even the people of the state.
“They said they have to shutdown network communication in Kaduna and so many other areas to improve security, but what we are witnessing now is becoming worst. So for us, NULGE cannot raise N40million, the family members are so poor, they cannot raise money, these are poor workers whose N30, 000 minimum wage is not fully paid. I don’t know how they intend to secure their release.
“And to make the matter worse, government is saying they cannot pay ransom. If they are not paying, they should be proactive and secure the release of these people, we can’t allow them to be killed. Something urgently needs to be done, enough of this situation in Zaria local government.
“We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to use his good office since Kaduna state government appears to be overwhelmed by insecurity, to come in quickly to ensure that our local government workers will be fully secured from the den of kidnappers.
“If the situation remains the same in the days ahead, the national leadership would have to take a proactive action to send a signal to both state and the federal governments that our members are very important, because the first duty of any government is to secure life and property.”