Two months after deploying more combat aircraft to the Niger Delta, the Nigerian Air Force has said it is set to deploy more personnel to the troubled region.
The new deployments occur despite a unilateral ceasefire by a major militant group in the region, the Niger Delta Avengers. The group, responsible for most of the attacks on oil and gas facilities in the region in the past year, two weeks ago expressed its willingness for conditional dialogue.
Sunday’s announcement by the Air Force also occurs one week after President Muhammadu Buhari threatened to deal with the Avengers like the government is currently dealing militarily with the Boko Haram terror group in North-eastern Nigeria.
The new Air Force deployment was announced by the Chief of Air Staff , Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on Sunday, according to a statement by the Air Force spokesperson, Ayodele Famuyiwa.
Mr. Famuyiwa said the new deployments was part of the resolve to combat militancy and other forms of internal security challenges in the region.
He said Mr. Abubakar disclosed this in Yenagoa during his visit to NAF Mobility Command.
“The planned deployment is aimed at strengthening the existing NAF manpower disposition, especially in Bayelsa and to enhance Nigerian Air Force (NAF) involvement in `Operation Delta Safe,” Mr. Abubakar was quoted as saying by the spokesperson.
“Preparatory to this deployment, new facilities were recently put in place to cater for accommodation and other welfare needs of the personnel.
“These include the construction of new blocks of accommodation for officers and men, office accommodation, airmen’s mess and provost squadron which were commissioned recently.”
According to the statement, two of the airmen’s blocks of accommodation have been named after Cpl. Omaka V.I. and Aircraftman Ofonih E.F., both of whom were killed in Bosso, Niger, during an Internal Security Operation.
Retired Air Vice Marshall Larry Koinyan commissioned the newly-constructed projects as the guest of honour.
The Air Force deployment follows similar ones by the Army and the Navy to quell the militancy in the region which reduced the country’s oil production by half and also damaged power infrastructure.
In his remarks on Sunday, Mr. Koinyan applauded the Air Force personnel for their courage and successes following their renewed vigour at ensuring peace and stability in the various theatres of operations in the country.
He, however, called on the people of Bayelsa to support the Federal Government’s effort at solving the problems of the region once and for all.
Earlier, Mr. Abubakar paid a courtesy call on Governor Henry Dickson of Bayelsa, who gave assurance that his administration was ready to partner NAF and other security agencies in their bid to rid the state of criminal activities.
Mr. Dickson said it had become necessary because Bayelsa government understood the importance of security and the need for the state to be safe for economic prosperity.
He also promised that his government would partner the service to build Air Force primary and secondary schools in the state to enable Bayelsa residents benefit from the quality education provided by such schools.
The governor noted that the discipline and re-orientation of the youth in the state would further be enhanced at the Air Force base in Yenagoa where the schools would be sited.