In continuation of its efforts to enhance operational responsiveness and effectiveness of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, recently activated the 21 Quick Response Wing (21 QRW) at Agatu in Benue State.
The unit, which is under the control of the 211 Quick Response Group Owerri, was established to further enhance NAF’s ability to respond to internal security threats within the Nasarawa-Benue States corridor, working in synergy with other security agencies.
According for the Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, while in Agatu, the CAS also inspected the renovated office and residential accommodation at the 21 QRW Base and handed over a borehole constructed by the NAF to the Obagaji Community in Agatu.
The CAS, who was accompanied by the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command (AOC SOC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Samson Akpasa, and other senior officers from NAF Headquarters, was received in Agatu by the Chairperson Agatu Local Government Area (LGA), Honourable Comfort Echida, as well as the traditional ruler of Agatu, Chief Dr Godwin Ngbede.
Speaking during the activation ceremony, the CAS stated that he was delighted to be in Agatu to personally activate the 21 QRW, adding that the decision to establish the QRW in Agatu, as well as the QRWs established at Nguroje in Taraba State and Doma in Nasarawa State, was taken following thorough analysis of the threat environment in the area.
Based on this, a request was made to the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Honourable Minister of Defence (HMOD), who graciously approved the establishment of the unit.
The CAS therefore thanked Buhari for approving the establishment of the unit and providing the necessary resources to make it a reality.
He noted that the establishment of the unit would contribute immensely towards curbing spate of attacks in the area while ensuring that peace is sustained.
Speaking further, the CAS stressed that the NAF would continue to emplace additional facilities, equipment and manpower in the QRW to enable it function effectively and fulfil its mandate. He noted that the ultimate aim was to have at least 500 Special Forces personnel in the unit along with complements of support personnel from other NAF specialties.
He also mentioned that NAF would eventually construct a Helipad in the base to enable the deployment of helicopter gunships to support operations in the area, whenever required.
The CAS therefore assured the Chairperson Agatu LGA, the traditional ruler of Agatu and other members of the community that the NAF would continue to do its best to add value to the place.
To this end, he announced that the NAF would conduct a seven-day medical outreach for members of the host community in Agatu, which would cater for their medical and minor surgical needs, while major surgical cases would be referred to the NAF Hospital in Makurdi with adequate arrangements made for medical evacuation.
Abubakar pledged that the NAF would eventually set up a well-equipped Medical Centre at the 21 QRW that would provide free medical services to the host. He however requested for the continued support of the traditional ruler, community leaders and all members of the community to provide much needed intelligence that would facilitate the conduct of operations to counter threats in the area.
He urged them to interact freely with the CO and personnel of 21 QRW who had been tasked to provide necessary support to the host community. While handing over the automated borehole system with 9,000 litres storage capacity and 16 tap heads to the Chairperson Agatu LGA and the traditional ruler of Agatu, the CAS noted that the NAF had provided a generator and would also provide fuel to keep the borehole running.
The CAS had earlier commissioned the second and final phase of the modernisation and expansion of the water supply system in NAF Base Makurdi. Conducting the CAS round the facility, the AOC Tactical Air Command, AVM Oladayo Amao, stated that the first phase of the project was executed by direct labour in January while the second phase was executed under the 2017 capital projects.
The project increased the reservoir capacity from 900,000 litres to 1.35 Million litres with the construction of an additional 450,000 litres sedimentation tank. It also entailed the fabrication and installation of surface and overhead tanks to increase the total capacity to 2.45 Million litres.
The reticulation pipes within the base were also replaced, boosting the water supply by 100 per cent. The CAS also commissioned the Battery Charging and Maintenance Bay at the 131 Engineering Group, which had been remodelled and renovated to ensure safer and more efficient conduct of maintenance activities in the group.