The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has praised the courage, patriotism, hard work and dedication of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) frontline troops, while urging them to rededicate themselves to the performance of their constitutional roles. The CAS said this in Yola yesterday, 26 December 2018, while hosting troops of units of the Air Task Force (ATF) Operation LAFIYA DOLE based in Yola to a Boxing Day Dinner. The CAS was joined at the Dinner by Dr Umar Bindir, the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, who represented the Governor of Adamawa State, Senator Jibrilla Bindo, as the Special Guest of Honour at the event.
In his remarks during the occasion, the Special Guest of Honour expressed delight to be at NAF Base Yola to celebrate with the troops who, he said, were making the sacrifices that had secured the peace which Nigerians, especially citizens of Adamawa State, were currently enjoying. He recalled the situation in the State before 2015, especially in the northern part of the State, where Boko Haram attacks and activities were prevalent. He said he was happy that things had changed for the better, with normalcy restored to all areas hitherto affected by the activities of the terrorists. He therefore extolled the CAS and all NAF personnel for the role they had played in ensuring that Adamawa State and other parts of the country were secure. He also specially thanked the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, for the immense support given to the NAF to enable it achieve its goals. He also commended the Commanders of the NAF units in Yola for maintaining excellent Civil-Military relations and cultivating fruitful partnerships with their host communities.
The CAS, in his remarks, expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Special Guest of Honour for attending the event. He also congratulated all personnel for seeing the end of the year and commended them for their collective and individual efforts in ensuring that the territorial integrity of the nation was not undermined during the past three and a half years, despite the numerous security threats facing the nation. Air Marshal Abubakar assured the troops that their efforts were appreciated, not only by the Service and the Government, but also, by all well-meaning Nigerians. He expressed pride in their accomplishments, noting that, on the whole, the security situation in the country had improved from what it used to be. The CAS seized the opportunity to thank the Federal Government for approving the various reforms that the Service had embarked upon since he assumed office. These included the expansion of the NAF organizational structure from 4 Operational Commands to 6, with the creation of the Special Operations Command (SOC) and the unbundling of the erstwhile Training Command into the Ground Training and Air Training Commands. He particularly expressed delight with the SOC, which, with its Quick Response Groups/Wings and specialized Regiment and Special Forces units, was bridging the gap between force projection and force protection while also enhancing NAF’s response capability. He noted that, notwithstanding this build up in force protection capability, the NAF had also continued to improve its force projection capabilities both within and outside the country. He recalled, for instance, the deployment of air assets to the Gambia in support of Regional efforts to ensure smooth transition of power in that country as well as the deployment of a C-130H to Sierra Leone for humanitarian relief operations during the flood disaster which affected that nation.
In terms of capacity building, the CAS noted that the NAF had winged 92 pilots in the last 3 years alone, while 45 student pilots were undergoing training, both locally and abroad in such countries as the United States of America, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, South Africa, Italy and Russia, among others. Similarly, he mentioned that due to the enhancement of training facilities at the 401 Flying Training School Kaduna, the NAF has been able to boost training capacity of the school by about 700%. This had resulted in the graduation of a particular set of student pilots in just 4 months, while they were still cadets, for the first time in about 3 decades. He noted furthermore that, for the first time in about 30 years, the Service was also able to conduct a live weapons firing meet featuring all NAF combat aircraft at the Kwernev Range in Benue State during the 2017 NAF Day Celebrations.
Air Marshal Abubakar expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for the increased aircraft availability made possible through the acquisition of 18 brand new aircraft as well as the reactivation of 13 previously unserviceable ones within the last 3 years. This, he said, was aside from the 12 Super Tucano aircraft and 6 attack/utility helicopters which had also been ordered. He therefore urged the troops to exploit the advantages afforded by these value additions to justify the confidence reposed in them, while working in concert with other Services and security agencies. He ended his remarks by reiterating the need to remain apolitical while exercising their legitimate rights to vote for the candidates of their choice on Election Day. He stressed that all NAF personnel must exhibit the highest level of professional conduct while resisting any entreaties to be used by unscrupulous elements during the period.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commander 153 Base Services Group Yola, Air Commodore Victor Ndace, thanked the Special Guest of Honour for finding time to celebrate with the troops. He also expressed the gratitude of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the ATF to the CAS for his visionary leadership as well as for providing the needed support and enabling environment for the units to record phenomenal achievements during the year. One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of awards to personnel who had excelled in the performance of their duties during the year.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force