Insurgency: Waiting 3 years for dynamo planes


By Yochuku Ofoka Yobolisa, Editor in Chief

Archery, the science of shooting with bows and arrows, has been as old as time itself. Humans in all climes have practised it all through history. But a popular question among Africans is, must we draw the bow and aim the arrow until the devouring bird flies away?

While the citizens of this country were hot and bothered about terrorist violence everywhere, especially, the menace of Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast, the government placed orders in November 2018 with the US government to build twelve A-29 Super Tucano fighters for the Nigerian Air Force to fight the rebellious groups. That was three years in between. During this time, when the government is yet bracing up to get flying dynamos, tens of thousands of innocent citizens have been maimed and massacred and property worth billions devastated at will by mindless terrorists who have a grudge against the state. Official statistics of this carnage and indiscriminate destruction of property and human settlements will shock and perhaps, disgust the stoutest of men.

Three years after, the presidency has announced that the fighter planes are getting ready for onward delivery to the NAF in another four months. According to the president’s senior special adviser on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, on his Twitter handle, the administration will take delivery of the first six from the middle of July this year. Speaking for the president, he continued, “Nigeria will take delivery of six of the ordered twelve super Tucano fighter aircraft in Mid-July 2021 to enhance the fight against insurgency and terrorism in the country. The remaining six will be delivered shortly after the arrival of the first set.”

Commenting on the presidential initiative, a commentator in the Gudu District of Abuja called it a defect in defence policy objectives, describing the aircraft delivery time as a clog in military strategies.

He said, “This is a clear defect in the nation’s strategic defence initiative. And we blame the air force for nonperformance when strategic equipment are lacking in their inventory. It all shows that the government is ill-prepared to protect citizens from aggression.”

Experts say that it is, no doubt, interesting that the military inventory is being boosted now, but the aircraft may be coming late, and so, will certainly scarcely be a morale-booster for a military that had all-too-often been vilified for not ending the terrorist menace before now.

According to Garba Shehu, “The armed turboprops are intended for use against Boko Haram and the Islamic State West African Province. The painted jungle scheme NAF A-29s now move on to mission modification at the Moody air force base in Georgia. The Super Tucanos came off the production line in Jacksonville, Florida and are now being equipped and flight-tested. And 14 pilots are being trained on these planes for flights and maintenance.”

The presidential spokesman said that the training school involves air-ground flights targeting the minimization of civilian casualties.

At the cost of US$329 million, experts say that the government is less than proactive and rather reactionary in its approach. “A purposeful government does not wait until a problem pokes at it before it prepares to protect its people and sovereignty,” Baderin said.