NIGERIAN military commanders have attributed the lack of an army aviation division as one of the main reasons why they are struggling to finish off terrorist sect Boko Haram that has been waging war against the state since 2009.
Over the last 10 years, Boko Haram has been fighting a guerrilla insurgency against the Nigerian state as it seeks to establish a theocracy in the northeast of the country. Based in Borno State where it once controlled 13 local government areas, Boko Haram has defied all attempts to finish it off militarily.
Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, the theatre commander of the Nigerian Army’s Operation Lafiya Dole, launched to finish off the sect, said that with an aviation division, it would be easy to finish off the terrorists. Nigeria’s military is made up of an army, navy and air force but neither the navy or army have pilots and neither the air force of army have sailors, reducing their flexibility.
Speaking when he received a delegation of the National Assembly joint committee on the army yesterday, General Adeniyi, who took over the command of the military’s counter-insurgency operation about two months ago, said there is a need for a military rethink. He told the lawmakers led by Senator Ali Ndume of Borno South, that Boko Haram has never been a formidable force as they are perceived to be.
General Adeniyi said: “The only thing that needs to be given to the army now is Nigeria Army Aviation. There is a way you solve a problem that will change the game as the army needs combat helicopters to end the Boko Haram war.
“If we have them, they will not be deployed like air force jets, which are for bigger strategic goals. These helicopters will sleep with us in the trench, they will be with us in the front line and they and the rifles are dispatched together.
“I know this has been on the table for years. When this is done, Nigeria can forget about Boko Haram.”
He added that Boko Haram cannot sustain 15 minutes of intensive firing, so are beatable if the Nigerian military has the right equipment. General Adeniyi said that unlike air force jets, the army aviation helicopters would perform more critical roles during attacks or what is known in military terms as close air support.