The Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has commended the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, for his exemplary leadership in ensuring that the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole continues to play a pivotal role in the fight against insurgency in the North East of the Country.
The Governor equally lauded the immense contributions and sacrifices of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) personnel in securing the territorial integrity of the Country.
The Governor made this known on Monday, 25 May 2020, while speaking at the Luncheon organized by the NAF to celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr with personnel of the ATF in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The Luncheon was held in keeping with the CAS’ tradition of spending festive periods with NAF personnel serving on the frontlines.
Speaking further, Governor Zulum stated that the tremendous efforts of the NAF in general, and the ATF in particular, in the fight against insurgency had degraded the abilities of the insurgents and gradually facilitated a return to normalcy for the people of the State.
He noted that the NAF’s contributions were not limited to kinetic operations, as the Service had also been active in providing humanitarian services such as the healthcare facilities it had established at the Bama and Dalori IDP Camps since 2015 as well as the school feeding programmes that had been running in the Camps since 2016.
He noted that these, along with various medical outreaches undertaken over the years, had helped to assuage the suffering of affected communities, while contributing to the enhancement of the overall wellbeing of the people.
Governor Zulum disclosed that the people of Borno State were quite appreciative of these gestures and would continue to hold the NAF in high regard.
He therefore assured the CAS of the enduring support of the Borno State Government, noting that posterity would remember the CAS kindly for his selfless leadership.
While requesting for continued surveillance over the Borno State airspace to enable farmers go about their farming activities during the rainy season, Governor Zulum expressed appreciation for the airlift support that had enabled him and other government officials continue the vital tasks of governance, even with the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
In his remarks, the CAS, while thanking Governor Zulum for the support which the NAF and the ATF had continued to enjoy from the Government and good people of Borno State, noted that, since assumption of office in 2015, he had maintained the tradition of hosting frontline NAF personnel to luncheons during festive periods because, in his words, “these get-togethers foster comradeship and give us the opportunity to commend ourselves in the duty of securing our Nation against criminal elements”.
Speaking further, the CAS stressed that the NAF, working in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies, would continue to evolve new methods and emplace new strategies aimed at eliminating all forms of criminal elements in the Country.
He disclosed that the NAF, despite the challenges of competing demands for resources and the COVID-19 induced lockdown, had, through pragmatic logistics planning and foresight, maintained the tempo of its operations, not only in the North East, but also in other parts of the Country.
Air Marshal Abubakar noted further that the immense contributions of the NAF, through the ATF, in the fight against insurgency in the North East had helped to shape the theatre of operation and provided freedom of action for the ground troops.
He reiterated that the NAF would sustain the current tempo of operations and also advance forward based on the Key Drivers of his Vision for the Service.
According to him, “We have kept the pace in training of both air and ground crews, developed the Regiment speciality to defend our Bases and increased the force structure of the Service, whilst building more accommodation and office infrastructure to cope with the growth.
Our units are flying the NAF flag across the Country.
The latest of these is in Lafia, where the 22 Quick Response Wing was recently activated with the injection of additional Special Forces (SF) personnel”.
The CAS equally disclosed that a new Unit would soon be established in Damaturu, where a helipad had been constructed along with refueling facilities.
He observed that Force Protection elements would soon be deployed to the location so that operations could commence to improve the ATF’s ability to respond to threats in the Yobe State general area.
The CAS remarked that, whilst sustaining the fight against the seen enemy, personnel must also maintain vigilance and ensure strict adherence to the guidelines and protocols to overcome COVID-19, which he referred to as “the invisible enemy of Humanity”.
He said the NAF had accordingly distributed reusable face masks to all personnel and provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and ventilators to the NAF Hospital in Maiduguri.
In this regard, the CAS also disclosed that NAF Engineers, in collaboration with the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, had equally developed locally-produced emergency ventilators that had been tested and made ready for use, which, he said, would be unveiled during the week.
Air Marshal Abubakar appreciated the commitment of the Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to providing the NAF with resources required to perform its assigned duties, thereby enabling the various accomplishments of the Service.
He therefore urged the troops not to relent in their efforts and also continue to maintain the highest level of vigilance and combat readiness to guarantee the security of Nigeria and Nigerians.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commander ATF, Air Commodore Precious Amadi, thanked the CAS for his consistent presence in the Theatre, which, he said, was not only a huge source of motivation but a staunch indication of the CAS’ commitment to the welfare and morale of the personnel.
He also expressed appreciation for the various laudable projects executed in NAF Base Maiduguri as well as those that had recently been approved.
He said these had boosted the fighting spirit of the troops and strengthened the resolve of the ATF to sustain the highest level of professionalism in the accomplishment of its mission.
On the entourage of the Governor at the Luncheon were his Chief of Staff, Dr Babagana Wakil, as well as some members of the Borno State Executive Council.
Branch Chiefs and Directors from Headquarters NAF as well as Commanders of NAF Units in Maiduguri were also present at the occasion in Maiduguri.
Similar luncheons were also held for ATF personnel in Yola, Adamawa State as well as for troops of the Air Component of Operation Gama Aiki in Minna, Niger State.