•Celebrates sallah with them
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has made a morale boosting visit to the troops involved in the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.
Abubakar had on Tuesday, visited Yola and Maiduguri to celebrate the Eid-El-Kabir, in line with his tradition of spending festive periods with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops on the frontline.
CAS in a statement Wednesday by the Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, was accompanied by some senior officers from NAF Headquarters and also used the visit to commission some projects in Yola.
The visit to Yola started with the commissioning ceremony of two newly constructed and furnished blocks of 12 units of one-bedroom single officers’ quarters, executed by NAF Headquarters, as well as a leisure park at the 163 NAF Hospital, executed by the Commander of the Hospital.
While speaking during the event, the Air Force Chief remarked that the various welfare-related projects executed in NAF bases across the country were initiated to provide conducive work and living environment to enable personnel focus on the onerous task of securing the country and its citizens.
“My desire is to see all personnel adequately quartered not only here in Yola, but all over NAF units across the Country. However, your peculiarity, in view of your unassailable contributions as a frontline Unit in the ongoing fight against insurgency, demands extra attention from me”, he said.
Speaking further, the CAS reminded personnel to remain apolitical and exhibit the highest level of professionalism, while showing absolute respect for the rights and privileges of citizens.
Abubakar expressed delight with the commanders of units in Yola for always taking steps to add value within their areas of responsibility, as evidenced by the impressive number of laudable unit-initiated projects executed in recent times. He also expressed the gratitude of the NAF to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his unflinching support to the NAF in providing the necessary conditions and critical resources that had enabled the Service to fulfil its statutory responsibilities.
Earlier, the Air Task Force (ATF) Commander, Air Commodore James Gwani, stated that the consistent presence of the CAS in the Lafiya Dole Theatre was a huge source of motivation to the personnel that would spur them to greater performance. He also thanked the CAS for providing all the necessary facilities that had ensured effective service delivery.
The Commander 153 Base Services Group, Air Commodore Anthony Ndace, also thanked the CAS for making out time to felicitate with NAF frontline troops noting that the gesture would continue to reassure the personnel that their welfare was of paramount importance to the leadership of the NAF.
The CAS and his team then joined the personnel for the Sallah luncheon where he expressed delight over the seating arrangement that ensured there was no high table, thus enabling personnel to freely interact with senior officers. He noted that the NAF, within past three years, had been gradually repositioned into a highly professional force for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power.
In the process, Abubakar said the Service had been restructured with the creation of two additional headquarters staff branches, two new field commands and several additional units.
Moreover, significant human capacity development had been achieved in all NAF specialties, including the training of 82 new pilots as well as many engineers and technicians and, more recently, 20 personnel were being trained in geospatial intelligence to enhance NAF’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
Furthermore, Abubakar said welfare had also received a considerable boost with massive infrastructural development in the areas of new accommodation, schools and medical facilities. The high point of the luncheon was the presentation of awards to the neatest airmen’s blocks as well as the best airman of the Third Quarter in NAF Base Yola; Master Warrant Officer Paul Kalau.
In the same vein, Abubakar along with other senior officers, later proceeded to Maiduguri where the ATF Commander briefed them on status of air operations in the Lafiya Dole Theatre; after which the CAS addressed the troops.
During the address, the Air Force Chief commended the troops for their commitment, while conveying the Commander-in-Chief’s appreciation for the excellent job the ATF was doing. He stated that the successes in the fight against insurgency in the past three years had enabled persons who had been displaced from their communities for several years to safely return to their ancestral homes.
The CAS noted that the NAF had also made significant progress in the Northwest since the commencement of Operation Diran Mikiya on July 30, 2018, which had led to drastic reduction in armed banditry and other criminal activities in Zamfara and surrounding states.
He stressed that all the achievements recorded were due to the tireless efforts and sacrifices of the gallant officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF and the personnel of sister Services. Abubakar also urged them not to relent in their efforts but sustain their dedication towards the performance of NAF’s constitutional roles.
In addition, he reminded troops to remain non-partisan, while exercising their rights to vote for candidates of their choice at appropriate elections.
Like in Yola, awards were presented to deserving personnel; with Flight Lieutenant Ibrahim Goni and Sergeant Alhassan Yusuf receiving the best officer and airman awards, respectively, for their exceptional professional performance during the Third Quarter of 2018. The CAS and members of his entourage have since returned to Abuja.