Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has announced that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the construction of an airstrip in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State that would facilitate seamless air bombardment of Boko Haram bases in the Northeast region.
Speaking yesterday at the Sallah luncheon he had with the troops of the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole, Abubakar said the airstrip would further boost the ongoing operation against Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in the region.
He said the completion of the airstrip would also ensure that helicopter gunships on air bombardment of Boko Haram enclaves in Yobe State would no longer return to Maiduguri for refueling and servicing as was previously the case.
The CAS explained that hosting frontline troops during festivity period to boost their morale has been a culture he had maintained since his appointment in 2015 as the CAS, which the culture fosters comradeship and give NAF the opportunity to socialize while on duty of securing the nation against criminal elements.
Abubakar said: “During my last operational visit to Maiduguri, we highlighted the immense contributions of the Nigerian Air Force through the Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole in the fight against insurgency in the North East.
“These contributions have no doubt helped to shape the theatre of operation and provided freedom of action for the ground troops. Despite the challenges of competing resources and COVID-19 induced lockdown, we have through pragmatic planning and foresight, maintained the tempo of Nigerian Air Force Operations, not only in the North East, but in other parts of the country.
“I want to reiterate that not only are we going to sustain operations, we will continue to leap forward based on my key drivers. We have kept the pace in training of both air and ground crews, developed the regiment’s 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.
“On a general note, however, I wish to thank you all for your concerted efforts and contributions. As we are aware, much is at stake and more would be required from us. I urge you not to rest on your oars, neither relent your efforts till we achieve victory,” the CAS said.
He, however, said that the NAF must continue to evolve new methods and put in place new strategies aimed at eliminating all forms of criminal elements in the country.
Abubakar reminded the troops that the exploits recorded by the NAF would not have been possible without the support of the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We can only show our appreciations for the President’s support to the NAF by remaining a disciplined force and exhibiting the highest level of professionalism in all our actions,” he said.