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Attahiru: Time to rethink maintenance of our military hardware

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and other members of his immediate staff died in a plane crash in Kaduna on Friday.Impeccable aviation sources had earlier said that Attahiru, who was appointed Chief of Army Staff on January 26, died alongside 10 others who were on board the aircraft with him. The incident occurred at about 6pm while it was raining heavily.

The aircraft, with registration number 5N-R203, was billed to land at the Nigerian Airforce Base in the Mando area of Kaduna before it diverted and attempted to land at the Kaduna International Airport.

The officers were said to be on their way to Kaduna ahead of Saturday’s passing-out parade of soldiers from the Nigerian Army Depot in Zaria. The Nigerian Air Force confirmed that there was an accident involving one of its aircraft in Kaduna but did not provide details.

“An air crash involving a @NigAirForce aircraft occurred this evening near the Kaduna International Airport. The immediate cause of the crash is still being ascertained. More details to follow soon,” the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Edward Gabkwet, said in a statement.

Also, an Aircraft Traffic Controller source said that the NAF jet diverted from the military airport to the civil one due to weather, touched down but skidded off Runway 05 and went into flames.

“The aircraft had seven persons on board and four crew members. The accident occurred at 1759 UTC. Safety services are currently at the crash site. Further reports from the crash site confirmed aircraft completely burnt, and unfortunately, there was no survivor,” the source said.

Another military source said bad weather forced the pilot to divert the aircraft from the military airport to the civil airport.The source said, “The crash was probably a result of the bad weather caused by heavy rain that the state witnessed on Friday.“That was the reason why the pilot diverted the aircraft from the military airport to the civil airport.

“The death is so sad because the army chief had a master plan to defeat terrorism in the country. Just while he was working with his other colleagues who are heading the airforce, the navy and even the chief of defence staff, death struck.“He, being a military officer and a Muslim, and barring any last-minute change, will be buried according to Islamic rites at the National Military Cemetery on Saturday (today).”

However, the Nigerian Army on Friday confirmed Attahiru’s death. In a statement by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, the army noted that the incident also killed 10 others without revealing their identities.

The statement read, “The Nigerian Army regrets to announce the passing away of its Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru. The sad event occurred following an air crash in Kaduna which also claimed the lives of 10 other officers including the crew. The COAS was enroute Kaduna from Abuja on Friday, May 21, 2021 when the unfortunate incident happened. Details of the sad incident and burial arrangements will be communicated soon.”

Born on August 10, 1966, Attahiru hailed from Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State. He was a member of the Regular Course 35 of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Before his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff,

he was the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu.
He was also a former Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East.
Meanwhile, the NAF plane crash in Kaduna occurred barely seven weeks after a NAF Alpha jet went missing on March 31.The NAF alpha jet was carrying out a mission against Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State when it went missing at about 6pm.The plane which had two crew members on board disappeared from the radar and has not been found since then. The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the pilots remain unknown.

Boko Haram sect had posted footage of burning wreckage of a plane, saying its fighters shot down the aircraft but this was denied by the airforce.On February 21, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i NAF aircraft also crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport after reporting engine failure en route to Minna.Seven crew members on board the jet died. The NAF has yet to make public the investigation into the incident.This brings to 17 the number of military officers who have lost their lives in the last three months in three crashes involving NAF jets.

According to Wikipedia , the Beechcraft Super King Air family is part of a line of twin-turboprop aircraft produced by Beechcraft. The Model 200 and Model 300 series were originally marketed as the “Super King Air” family; the “Super” designation was dropped in 1996.They form the King Air line together with the King Air Model 90 and 100 series.Beechcraft currently offers the 250 (design. B200GT and the larger 350i (B300models.. The 350ER (B300CER]) is available to government, military and commercial customers for special mission operations such as aerial survey, air ambulance, flight inspection and surveillance.. The Beechcraft 1900 regional airliner was derived from the Model B200 King Air. The Super King Air family has been in continuous production since 1974 the longest production run of any civilian turboprop aircraft in its class. It outlasted all of its previous competitors; the only other pressurized multi engine turboprop utility aircraft now in production is the Piaggio P.180 Avanti.
This unfortunate madness would not be an eye opener for us, because we treat such disasters with levity. Already condolences have started pouring in from all over the world because of the caliber of personalities involved.

The political history of the country tells us that the military incursion into the foray of governance didn’t help in building the capabilities of our military. Their reign only ended in massive looting of the nation’s treasury without recourse to equipping the armed forces. The Nigeria Military can be likened to a carpenter who builds good furniture for his clients but lacked better furniture at home.

As usual the government will set up fact finding panel(s) to ascertain the cause of the crash, the reports would form garbage heaps. We must not let issues about precious lives lost with reckless abandonment. For such incidents to happen with a space of three months portends that we are really not taking issues about lives seriously.

This is a time to rejig  our maintenance culture. We need to Evaluate our maintenance policy, possibly make legislation that would give how we maintain public propertie

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