By Tony Akowe, Abuja
The Chief of Air Force- Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar has said that the Nigeria Air Force is to acquire 8 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles from China and three and 3 JF17 thunder fighter aircraft from Pakistan in 2021.
Speaking at a budget defence before the House Committee on Air Force on Friday, the Air Chief also said that the Service was expecting delivering of the controversial Super Tukano aircrafts before the end of the second quarters of 2021.
The Air Chief also told the lawmakers that the service has joined the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of salaries of its personnel.
Abubakar however complained that the N8.8 billion allocated to the service for its overhead cost and which has remained constant since 2017 was grossly inadequate for the running of the Force in view of the increased responsibilities and platform being created for effective day to day running.
He disclosed that the Air Force has acquired 22 new aircraft and we are expecting 17 more. In addition to the three special mission aircrafts the service is expecting under the deep blue project of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
He said “a total of N142.045 billion is proposed for Nigeria Air Force budget for 2021. This is made up of about N101 billion for personnel, while N8.8 billion and M31.4 billion are the ceiling issued to the Nigeria Air Force for overhead and capital estimates respectively.
“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 constrain 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.
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“The payment of salaries of all NAF personnel is now through 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 Ikiran in Osun state, we are expanding the unit in Ipetu Ijesha. We have also established an 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 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 1000. So, it is huge in terms of the infrastructure.
“For the platforms we have created, we have acquired 22 aircrafts and we are expecting 17 more. In addition, we are expecting to get three special mission aircrafts 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.
“The 2021 budget proposal is tailored towards acquiring more platforms and maintaining existing platforms. The NAF intends to intensify its procurement of spare parts, as well as arms and ammunition.
“Emphasis will also be placed on ongoing infrastructural development in newly established bases such as Gombe and existing NAF buildings to cater for the welfare of personnel and their families.
“For a breakdown of the proposed capital expenditure, we have the 3 JF17 thunder fighter aircraft that the Air Force is acquiring from Pakistan and we are proposing about N17.3 billion for this, while the procurement of targeting bolts for the JF17 thunder aircraft will gulp N3.7 billion.
“The procurement of various aircraft parts and ammunition, we are proposing N15 billion, procurement of various small arms and ammunitions, about N150 million. Acquisition of three PV unmanned aerial systems, two by ground patrol stations and associated accessories at about N271 million.
“Procurement of various aircraft spares N566 million. Infrastructural development in newly established NAF bases by contract will amount to about N1 billion. Upgrade of existing barrack infrastructures, we have N2.5 billion.
“We have up to N2.5 billion for barrack upgrade because the Super Tocano aircraft is coming to Kainji and the runway there is not in shape. We don’t want to go for 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 Tocano aircrafts by the second quarter of next year.
“We are proposing N350 million for additional construction and equipping of Air Force maintenance hangar.”
He however pledged our loyalty of the Nigerian Air Force to the federal government in defence of our democracy.
Also, the Air Force Institute of Technology, Kaduna told the lawmakers that since the establishment of the Institute, it has not been given any take-off grant, and appealed for an upward review of the overhead for the institute.
Commandant of the Institute, Air Vice Marshal Abdulganiyu Adeyinka Olabisi said the overhead envelope given to the Institute will be a funding constraint for academic activities in the institute.
He appealed for an upward review of the capital and overhead appropriation to enable AFIT attend to some crucial needs, adding that “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 Mohammadu Buahri signed the establishment act into law.”
Source: The Nation