President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented the Friday crash that led to the loss of the former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other military personnel, saying the incident has compounded the nation’s woes.
He stated this on Monday while receiving a delegation from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at the State House who came to condole with him on the fatal air crash in Kaduna State, adding that only God knows why the tragic incident happened while expressing a resolve to work harder.
President Buhari told the delegation that he is hoping that God would provide the enablement for the nation to deal with challenges.
“To lose choice officers has increased our problem but we know what we are in for and we will continue to work hard and pray hard so that God will give us the power to appreciate and apply ourselves to the problem,” President Buhari said.
“This is a situation that only God knows when it will happen and it happened at a time when the security situation in the country is a fundamental issue.
“The people who elected us, they know the promises we made within the time…the circumstances which we find ourselves…we will keep on trying and continue to do our best.”
The delegation includes the Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; the Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) National Caretaker Committee and Yobe state governor, Mai Mala Buni, and Governor Sani Bello of Niger State.
On his part, the Ekiti State Governor commiserated with the President over the death of the military officers, affirming that the incident was one that was deeply felt by the Commander-in-Chief.
The NGF boss recalled that the President heeded the call by governors for a change of service chiefs and the impact was already being felt.
While noting that the death of the officers was a big blow to President Buhari, Governor Fayemi reiterated the President’s unrelenting resolve to fight the war against insecurity.
He also reminded the President of the pledge to take care of the families of the departed.
Fayemi said: “We’ve read your statement and this delegation of governors consider it a duty and as part of our obligation as your representatives to commiserate with you over the loss of your gallant officers.
“We know it is an event that has touched you. When we mentioned the necessity for a change of service chiefs, you were determined to get the best set of people, you gave your assurance and the military was beginning to feel the impact.
“We know that this is a major blow and you’re unrelenting in your quest/commitment to ensure peace and security in our country.
“It’s unfortunate the losses we have suffered. We only pray God gives both the families and the country the fortitude to bear the loss, pray that God gives our country greater resolve to continue on the path that the late COAS towed.
“For us, we must defeat banditry, insurgency and criminality. That’s the mandate you gave them. This should not lead to any retreat or surrender on our part.
“As you have promised, we know that our country will do everything to ensure that the administration will do all to take care of the families of the departed officers. It’s an indication of how protected the active officers would be.”
The nation was thrown into mourning on May 21 after a Nigerian Air Force jet crashed at the Kaduna International Airport due to bad weather.
Besides the army chief, other victims on board the ill-fated aircraft were Brigadier Generals Ahmed Kuliya, O Olayinka, and MI Abdulkadir; Majors N Hamza, LA Hayat; Sergeants O Adesina, and Umar; as well as Aircraftman OM Oyedepo, Flt Lt TO Asaniyi, and Flt Lt AA Olufade.
The Beechcraft 350 aircraft conveying the military officers, with registration number 5N-R203, was billed to land at the Nigerian Airforce Base in the Mando area of Kaduna but diverted to land at the civil airport.