In continuation of his efforts to ensure Nigerian Air Force (NAF) units and formations maintain a high level of operational effectiveness, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday, 27 September 2018, undertook an operational visit to Headquarters Mobility Command (HQ MC) and 235 Base Services Wing (BSW) NAF Base Yenagoa, Bayelsa Sate. The CAS, who was accompanied on the visit by other senior officers from NAF Headquarters, was received in Yenagoa by the Air Officer Commanding Mobility Command (AOC MC), Air Vice Marshal Napoleon Bali. While in Yenagoa, the CAS also paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Bayelsa State, His Excellency, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson.
The operational visit began with a brief by the AOC MC on the activities, achievements, challenges and projections of the Command. The AOC thereafter conducted CAS on a tour of the newly renovated HQ MC Complex and Officers’ Mess, which the CAS subsequently commissioned. Speaking during the commissioning, the CAS commended the AOC MC and his staff for the cost-effective and timely execution of the renovation work, which was carried out by direct labour. He also expressed delight with the steps taken by the AOC to add significant value to the Command since assuming office. He urged other officers to emulate such admirable leadership traits. The CAS then proceeded to NAF Base Yenagoa, where he inspected living quarters, the Medical Centre and other facilities on the Base.
The CAS, along with other senior officers, later proceeded to the Bayelsa Government House for a courtesy call on the Bayelsa State Governor, where he expressed condolences to the Governor on the loss of his mother, Mrs Goldcoast Dickson. Air Marshal Abubakar then thanked the Governor for the support the NAF had enjoyed from the Government and good people of the State and reaffirmed the commitment of the Service towards ensuring peace and stability in the country. He informed Governor Dickson that, in his determination to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined fighting force, he realized there was the need for the Service to have the right structure, right manpower disposition, right equipment holding as well as the right welfare incentives. This, he said, had led to the restructuring of the Service with creation of 2 new Commands and establishment of several new units as well as the recruitment of over 7,500 personnel, training of 90 fresh new pilots and many engineers, technicians and other professionals. This had also motivated the acquisition of 18 new aircraft, reactivation of 13 previously unserviceable ones as well as the gracious payment, by the Federal Government, for another 12 new aircraft, which were being expected from the United States of America.
Air Marshal Abubakar noted that, as a result, the Service is now able to effectively project Air Power across multiple theatres of operation. He said the Service had also been able to deploy NAF Special Forces personnel to units in these theatres, including Yenagoa which is within the Area of Responsibility (AOR) of Operation DELTA SAFE. He promised that additional personnel would also soon be posted to Yenagoa, to further boost internal security operations in Bayelsa State. He equally pledged NAF’s commitment to assist in securing and ensuring the functionality of the Bayelsa International Cargo and Passengers Airport, once fenced and commissioned.
In his response, Governor Seriake Dickson commended the CAS for his tireless efforts to reposition the NAF for effective service delivery. He also extoled the CAS for his laudable achievements, especially for the acquisition of new aircraft, establishment of new units and improvement of personnel welfare, among others. In addition, the Governor expressed delight that Bayelsa State was peaceful and secure due to the invaluable contributions of the NAF, alongside other security agencies in the State. He applauded the NAF for the vital role it played in evacuating victims during past flood disasters in the state but requested that the same kind of support be extended to the State in this current crisis, as many communities in the State were already badly affected and in need of urgent intervention/evacuation.
Speaking further, Governor Dickson stated that apart from collaboration in education for the takeover of schools, the State was also willing to build and transfer hospitals and medical centres to the NAF to take over and operate given the quality of NAF schools and medical facilities as well as the immense managerial expertise that exists within the Service in these fields. He said he was confident that Bayelsa citizens would certainly benefit from such arrangements. The highpoint of the courtesy visit was the formal handover of a letter to the CAS by the Governor requesting NAF to take over the ownership of an already established secondary school in Zarama Community of the State.
Before departing Yenagoa, the CAS held a fruitful interactive session with officers, airmen and airwomen where he addressed all issues raised. Air Marshal Abubakar also urged the personnel to endeavour to add value in the discharge of their duties and cautioned them to avoid partisan politics while exercising their legitimate rights to vote for the candidates of their choice on Election Day.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force