In continuation of the series of inspection visits to Nigerian Air Force (NAF) deployments in crisis-prone areas in the country, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, undertook an operational visit to the 23 Quick Response Wing (23 QRW) Gembu on Saturday, 19 January 2019.
During the visit, the CAS paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Sardauna Local Government Area (LGA), Dr Shehu Audu Baju II, at his palace and also inspected various facilities being used by the Wing as well as prospective sites for infrastructural development to support the unit.
The CAS, who was accompanied by the Chief of Staff Special Operations Command (SOC), Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Tanko, as well as other senior officers from Headquarters NAF, was received at Gembu by the Commander 211 Quick Response Group (211 QRG) Owerri, Group Captain Elisha Bindul, as well as the Acting Chairman Sardauna LGA, Reverend Godwin Saul.
Speaking during the courtesy visit at the Emir’s Palace, the CAS expressed delight to be in Gembu and thanked the Emir for the warm welcome that had been accorded him by the people as well as for the hospitality extended to the CO, officers and airmen of 23 QRW, since the unit was established.
He stated that he was in Gembu to assess the preparedness of the troops and ascertain what could be done to improve their facilities for enhanced professional performance. He highlighted that the idea behind the establishment of the SOC, along with its component units, which include 4 QRGs, amongst which is 211 QRG, and 4 QRWs, amongst which is 23 QRW, was to fulfill the mandate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure that all communities in the country enjoy peace and are able to go about their legitimate aspirations without fear.
He noted that the activation of these units had also enhanced NAF’s response capability in dealing with various security threats.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the ultimate objective for Gembu was to have a fully functional NAF Base, complete with helicopter landing pads (helipads) and possibly an airstrip.
This, he said, would allow for the deployment of some of the new NAF combat helicopters procured by the Federal Government to Gembu, when they arrive.
The CAS noted that the NAF had already commenced the construction of a helipad at Birnin Gwari to boost the anti-banditry operations in the Northwest of the country and also intended to commence the construction of a helipad in Gembu, once the necessary land titles for the proposed site were regularized and handed over to the Service.
Air Marshal Abubakar seized the opportunity to thank the Governor of Taraba State for his efforts to regularize the documentation for the lands that had been allocated to the NAF. He also thanked the Emir for the support enjoyed from the people and promised that once additional facilities were made available, more personnel and equipment would be deployed to Gembu.
In his response, the Emir expressed delight to receive the CAS in Gembu. He said the Mambilla Plateau was an extremely beautiful place that needed to be preserved and protected.
He expressed the gratitude of the people of the area to the Federal Government and the NAF for the establishment of the 23 QRW, which he said had contributed immensely to the maintenance of peace and security in the area.
He said they were equally delighted that the NAF was also planning to deploy helicopters to Gembu, given the speed of response and flexibility afforded by using aircraft to deal with security threats.
He noted that this was why the people had turned out en-mass to welcome him on arrival. Dr Shehu Baju II said the Emirate Council would work with the State Government to ensure that all necessary documentation regarding land titles were quickly resolved to pave way for the commencement of construction work.
The Emir ended his remarks by thanking the CAS for authorizing the conduct of a Medical Outreach in Gembu last year which had provided free medical services to about 1,500 members of the community.
He however requested for the eventual establishment of a full-fledged NAF Medical Centre as well as a school in the proposed NAF Base Gembu.
During the visit, the CAS inspected facilities at the temporary office and residential accommodations of the Unit and also visited the site of the Gembu Airstrip.
Before departing Gembu, the CAS had a fruitful interactive session with the troops where he commended them for their efforts in ensuring peace in the area.
He urged them to sustain the tempo of operations with aggressive patrols and other confidence building activities.
Air Marshal Abubakar however stressed the need for them to remain professional and humane when dealing with the civil populace.
He also cautioned them to remain apolitical whilst encouraging them to exercise their legitimate rights to vote for the candidates of their choice as the dates for the 2019 General Elections draw closer.
The CAS stated that he would continue to do all within his power to provide the needed logistics support and resources that would enable them function more effectively and efficiently.
The CAS and other senior officers have since returned to Abuja.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force