The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday, 10 January 2019, undertook an operational visit to the 21 Quick Response Wing (21 QRW) Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base Agatu, Benue State to assess facilities as well as the state of readiness of the troops of the Wing to deal with threats within the area. While in Benue State, the CAS also declared the Makurdi Military Airfield open to civil flight operations, after the successful completion of repair work on the Runway and ancillary facilities and having addressed all safety concerns.
Before declaring the Runway open to civil flight operations, the CAS was conducted on an inspection tour of the completed works by the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command (AOC TAC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Oladayo Amao, who mentioned that the scope of the rehabilitation work covered refreshing of the sealant for the concrete slab joints on the Runway, Taxiways and Apron as well as the resurfacing of cracked portions of the manoeuvring area, re-marking of the Runway and erosion control, amongst others. Speaking after the inspection, the CAS commended the AOC TAC for effective supervision of the project and also congratulated the NAF Works Centre Abuja, which had executed the project through direct labour, for doing a good job. He added that the repairs, which had necessitated the closure of the Airfield to civil flight operations, as published in relevant Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS), were aimed at improving flight safety in accordance with global best practices as well as in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations. He further stated that a NOTAM had also been promulgated by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to reopen the airfield for normal operations.
In Agatu, the CAS was received by the traditional ruler of Agatu, Chief Dr Godwin Ngbede Onah, who conveyed the appreciation of his people to the NAF for its immense contributions to the return of normalcy in the area. The CAS was thereafter conducted on a tour of some facilities at the 21 QRW Base by the Commanding Officer 21 QRW, Squadron Leader Victor Ajeye, who also briefed him on the activities of the Wing since its activation on 19 October 2018. Speaking after the brief, Air Marshal Abubakar expressed satisfaction with the level of the facilities so far emplaced while promising that immediate action would be taken to meet the additional needs of the unit. This, he said, would include the immediate provision of additional equipment and other facilities to enable the Unit’s Medical Station better serve the NAF personnel and members of the host community.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar thanked the troops for their hard work, diligence and commitment, which had ensured that peace was maintained in Agatu community, thus allowing the people to pursue their legitimate aspirations. He urged them to remain focused on their tasks while eschewing overtures from any quarters to get involved in duties outside their purview. He reminded them that, as the General Elections draw closer, they must remain apolitical and professional in the performance of their duties while exercising their legitimate rights to vote for the candidates of their choice on Election Day. The CAS later fielded questions, comments and observations from the troops.
Earlier in his welcome address, the AOC Special Operations Command (SOC), AVM Samson Akpasa, thanked the CAS for his firm commitment to ensuring security, not only in Agatu but also in the entire Nasarawa-Benue States corridor, through the provision of necessary resources to 21 QRW. He said the commitment of the CAS was evidenced by his frequent visits to the area, this being the third in just 3 months. He said the effects of the CAS’ commitment and presence of NAF personnel in the area were already being felt because the people of the community were seen carrying out their normal farming activities and harvesting produce as expected. He pledged the commitment of the personnel to remain professional while ensuring that lives and property of members of the communities within their Area of Responsibility (AOR) remained secure.
The 21 QRW Agatu has, since its establishment, not only been maintaining security in the area but also ensuring good civil-military relations with the host community. The Wing recently hosted a Medical Outreach from 3 – 8 January 2019, on the directives of the CAS, which had a Team of Medical experts from the Medical Services Branch Headquarters NAF that provided free medical services to nearly 4,000 members of the Agatu Community. This included about 3,500 general consultations, with free medications provided, as well as 47 minor eye and general surgeries and distribution of 150 insecticide treated mosquito nets and 100 prescription eye glasses, among others. The CAS has since returned to Abuja.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force