Friday, February 8, 2019 9:25 am
The Federal Government says it is yet to take delivery of any of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano Attack Aircraft, being manufactured by an American aerospace contractor, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at the launch of the National Campaign in Support of the Military.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the Federal Government in February, 2018 placed an order for the 12 Super Tucano aircraft at a cost of $496million.
Responding to questions from newsmen at the launch, Mohammed said earlier delivery of the aircraft would boost the war against insurgency, which had metamorphosed from a rash-tag home grown Boko Haram group to a world teste terrorist network.
Mohammed, who solicited the support and prayers of all Nigerians for the troops fighting insurgency, added that Nigeria was still getting the backing of other countries through the Multinational Joint Task Force.
Mohammed said the launch of the National Campaign in Support of the Military was to seek the support of the citizens for the troops.
He admonished Nigerians to stop vilification, insults and other acts capable of of dampening the morale of the military, especially those fighting insurgency.
The minister stressed that the men and women in uniform who were risking all, including making the supreme sacrifice, to keep the country safe deserved the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification.
“Doctored videos and pictures purporting to show massive military casualties are willfully circulated online.
“Such unpatriotic acts are discouraging and demoralizing our troops, and must stop forthwith,” he said.
The minister also solicited the support of the media to play the leading role in the campaign.
“We want to appeal to the media to show utmost professionalism in reporting the insurgency.
“They must seek official clarification before reporting casualty figures, and must realise that the military will not release the identities of soldiers who have paid the ultimate price without first notifying their families.
“They must also not reveal national security as well as military plans, since such acts can put our troops in harm’s way,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Brig.-Gen. John Agim, Director, Defence Information expressed delight over the launch, adding that the time to stand in support of the military was long overdue.
He noted that the responsible journalism was needed more than ever, owing to the fact that publicity fuels terrorism.
To buttress his claim, Agim recalled an incidence in 2016 when 18 of the most wanted Book Haram members escaped into Lagos metropolis and the military had to keep the news a top secret.
He noted that if such scoop had leaked out to any journalist, it would be unpatriotic and irresponsible to publish the news because of the trauma it would have caused among Lagos residents.
The Defence spokesperson also recalled when a journalist called him for confirmation of a purported story that the military was short of and rationing ammunition in the North-East.
He said if the fake news was even to be real, it fell into the categories of stories that ought not to be published by responsible journalists because of its tendency to make people unsecured and lose hope.
Agim appealed to the media to avoid publishing stories that would break the spirit of the fighting force, promote cowardice and cause panic among citizens.
The event was attended by Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, Director, Army Public Relations, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Airforce and Commodore Suleiman Dahum, Director Information, Nigerian Navy.