MNJTF Troop Withdrawal from Mali, Niger Poses Threat to Nigeria – NAF Chief

by Ohepo Ohepo

ABUJA, Nigeria – The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has expressed concern over the withdrawal of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission Force, 2000 Chadian troops from Mali, and Republic of Niger troops from the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). He emphasized that these withdrawals pose significant security threats to Nigeria and the entire Sahel Region.

Additionally, Air Marshal Abubakar highlighted the negative impact of the recent surge in coup d’états in West Africa and the withdrawal of some nations from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the regional security architecture. These developments, he noted, have led to an influx of more weapons and terrorists into Nigeria.

Speaking during a meeting with Branch Chiefs, Air Officers Commanding, Directors, Commandants, and Commanders at Headquarters NAF, Abuja, the air chief stressed the need for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and other security agencies to be proactive. The meeting aimed to revisit NAF’s objectives, discuss performance and achievements, and identify challenges in line with the CAS command philosophy and key enablers.

In a statement by NAF spokesperson Air Vice Marshal Edward Gabkwet, Air Marshal Abubakar stated, “These security situations necessitate the need for NAF and other security agencies to intensify efforts to meet the Federal Government and Nigerian citizens’ expectations for a peaceful, safe, and secure nation where prosperity can thrive.”

Despite these threats, the NAF has, over the past 12 months, re-strategized and adopted new air power measures to counter identified threats, leading to significant progress in various operational areas, including insurgency, terrorism, banditry, and oil theft.

However, the CAS acknowledged that prevailing economic challenges such as high youth unemployment, increasing inflation, and multidimensional poverty have exacerbated the security situation, making it imperative for the NAF to continuously adapt and improve.

Commending the efforts of NAF personnel, Air Marshal Abubakar expressed gratitude for their support since he assumed office. “The NAF has achieved modest yet significant progress in fighting insurgency, terrorism, banditry, oil theft, and other criminal activities in the country. I commend you all for your efforts and sincerely thank you for your support over the last 12 months since my assumption of office,” he said.

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