Air Force to spend N35bn on acquisition of Fighter Jets

•Targets 17 additional aircrafts •To use direct labour for construction of runway •Plans 1,000 new employment

Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar on Friday has unveiled plans for the acquisition of Fighter Jets for the prosecution of war against insurgency and defend the territorial integrity of the country.

Air Marshal Abubakar who disclosed this during the 2020 budget defence and 2021 budget presentation, unveiled plans for the recruitment of additional 1,000 personnel as part of ongoing efforts toward strengthening the Service.

According to him, from the total sum of N35 billion proposed for the acquisition of the aircraft, the sum of N17.3 billion was proposed for acquisition of 3Nos. of JF17 Thunder Fighter Aircraft from Pakistan; N15 billion was proposed for procurement of various aircraft parts and ammunition while N3.7 billion was proposed for acquisition of Targeting Bolts for the JF17 Thunder Aircraft.

While giving an update on the 2020 budget performance, Air Marshal Abubakar explained that from the sum of N136.4 billion was appropriated for the Nigeria Air Force operation, the sum of N106 billion was for Personnel emolument, N8.8 billion for overhead and N26.9 for capital expenditure.

“As at today, 83 per cent of Personnel emolument has been released, this amount to N83 billion; the sum of N5.8 billion has been released for overhead while N26.223 billion has been released to the service.

In his remarks, Chairman, House Committee on Air Force, Hon. Shehu Koko who expressed delight on the utilisation of the funds appropriated, said: “I want to commend the government for releasing almost 97 per cent of the budget to the Air Force. This is the first time that is being done in the history of the country. I believe they have done that because of the role of the Air Force in the fight against terrorists and bandits across the country,” he said.

While giving the details of the 2021 budget proposal, Air Marshal Abubakar explained that from the total sum of N142.045 billion proposed for Nigerian Air Force, the sum of N101 billion is for personnel, N8.8 billion is for Overhead while N31.4 billion is for Capital project based on the budget ceiling issued by the Budget Office of the Federation.

“Though the capital ceiling is an improvement over the 2020 appropriation, it is still far below the N45 billion appropriated in the year 2019. Therefore, budget constraints and poor performance of the 2019 capital appropriation necessitated the proposed roll-over of some of the projects from 2020 to 2021.

“It is also important to state here that the Nigeria Air Force overhead allocation has remained constant at about N8.8 billion since 2017 despite the unprecedented increase in platforms, newly established basis, newly established bases and increase in personnel. The payment of salaries of all NAF personnel is now through the IPPIS platform of the Federal Government.

“We have acquired additional infrastructure, but inspite of that not much has changed in terms of the overhead. We have increased by about 11 units. These are located in Agatu in Benue State, Gembi in Taraba State, Damaturu in Yobe State, in Ikirun in Osun State, we are expanding the unit in Ipetu Ijesha.

“We have also established a FOB in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna state. The running cost of these units is something that is weighing heavily on the Air Force. That is why we are appealing for an increase in the overhead cost. In terms of personnel, the Air Force has grown to over 11,000 personnel and right now, we are recruiting an additional 1,000.

“So, it is huge in terms of the infrastructure. For the platforms we have created, we have acquired 22 aircraft and we are expecting 17 more. In addition, we are expecting to get three special mission aircraft under the deep blue project of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

“I have intimated you of the 8 UAVs we are expecting we are expecting from China. With these number of platforms, the number of personnel we have increased and the expansion of the units, definitely the current overhead will be inadequate,” he noted.

According to him, some of the capital projects proposed for 2021 include: proposed N17.3 billion for the acquisition of 3Nos. JF17 Thunder fighter aircraft from Pakistan; N3.7 billion for procurement of targeting bolts for the JF17 thunder aircraft; N15 billion for procurement of various aircraft parts and ammunition; N150 million for procurement of various small arms and ammunitions; N271 million for the acquisition of three PV unmanned aerial systems, two by ground patrol stations and associated accessories; N566 million for procurement of various aircraft spares; while N1 billion is for infrastructural development of the newly established NAF bases by contract and N2.5 billion for an upgrade of existing barrack infrastructures.

“We have up to N2.5 billion for barrack upgrade because the Super Tucano aircraft is coming to Kainji and the runway there is not in shape. We don’t want to go for a contract because the cost of doing that runway will be too much and I am sure that the government will not have the resources to do it. But we have civil engineers within the Air Force that can be mobilized.

“That is why we want it to be done by direct labour so that we can achieve the desired result before the arrival of the super Tucano aircraft by the second quarter of next year. We are proposing N350 million for additional construction and equipping of Air Force maintenance hangar. I pledge our loyalty to the Federal Government in defence of our democracy,” AVM Abubakar stated.

In the same vein, Commandant of Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Air Vice Marshal Adeyinka Olabisi unveiled plans that out of the sum of N311 million appropriated for the establishment of the University, only N288 million was released in 2020.

On the 2021 budget proposal, he disclosed that from the total sum of N3.5 billion was proposed, N2.3 billion is for personnel cost, N152.9 million for overhead while N997.4 million is for capital expenditure.

“I want to passionately appeal for an upward review of the capital and overhead appropriation to enable AFIT attend to some crucial needs. Under this budget regime, it will almost be impossible for the institute to realise its full potentials.

“Normally, when a university or polytechnic is established, a take-off grant is given to enable the institute provide the basic infrastructure for take-off. Regrettably, AFIT has not been given take off grant since its inception in 2017 when the President Muhammadu Buahri signed the establishment act into law. I appeal for the upward review of our capital budget to the tune of N4 billion to enable us address infrastructural need,” he uirged.

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