By Michael Olugbode
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has assured Nigerians of the continued commitment of the Nigerian Air Force to the security of the nation, promising that his men would neither relent nor rest on their oars until the security of lives and properties of Nigerians are guaranteed.
He gave this promise on Christmas Day in Maiduguri while hosting the troops of the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole to a luncheon at the NAF Base Maiduguri.
He said with the procurement of additional platforms such as the Super Tucano, JF-17, UAVs and other additional equipment, Nigerians should expect a game changer from the Nigerian Air Force.
He told the troops: “I am delighted to be here to mark the Christmas celebration with you all; being a tradition I have maintained since assumption of office. Let me state that the essence is to help fill the vacuum created by not being able to celebrate with our families because of service exigencies.
“This occasion also fosters comradeship and give all of us the opportunity to commend ourselves for our collective efforts in the ongoing fight against insurgency.
“It is not easy to quantify your enormous contributions and sacrifices towards the war against insurgency. Christmas celebration is all about sacrifice. As such as military professionals, our sacrifices for the unity of Nigeria remains immeasurable.
“We all are aware of the enormous responsibility we bear in ensuring the indivisibility of our dear Country. My vision has been ‘to reposition the Nigerian Air Force into a highly professional and discipline force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of Air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.”
He said the Nigerian Air Force had vigorously trained the requisite manpower to have capacity to operate all the sophisticated aircraft and equipment the Federal Government of Nigeria had provided for them, stressing “therefore, we cannot allow ourselves to be taken unawares.”
Abubakar said the Nigerian Air Force had continued to contribute its quota in various internal security operations across the country aimed at combating all forms of criminality, adding that an example is the involvement of the Nigerian Air Force in Operation Lafiya Dole in the Northeast.
He added: “Similarly, we have intensified our anti banditry and other security operations across the country. We shall not relent nor rest on our oars until we ensure the security of lives and properties of Nigerians are guaranteed.
“Let me reassure us all that procurement of additional platforms such as the Super Tucano, JF-17, UAVs and other additional equipment would certainly be game changers for our operations. We are committed to ensuring the total elimination of insurgency, banditry and all forms of criminality in our dear country.
“Having said this, our profound gratitude goes to the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, who provides us with the resources we require to perform our assigned duties. We can only show our appreciation for the President’s support to the Nigerian Air Force by remaining a disciplined force with the highest level of professionalism in all our activities.
“Also, I want to use this occasion to appreciate the support of members of the National Assembly especially Chairman and members of the National Assembly Committees on the Nigerian Air Force. I want to assure you that all approved resources have been judiciously utilized.
“I want to express our appreciation to the Governor of Borno State, His Excellency Professor Babagana Zulum and the good people of Borno State, for the support the NAF enjoys in providing the conducive environment for operation of our troops.
“We will continue to seek greater avenues towards ensuring a peaceful and secure environment where socio-economic activities will thrive for the common good of our people.
“Let me seize this opportunity to commend the Air Task Force Commander for his efforts at ensuring that personnel and units in the North-East remained undaunted and committed to the war efforts.
“May I use this opportunity to commend our troops who continue to do us proud through their acts of gallantry and bravery. While thanking God for His mercies in keeping us alive to see this celebration, I appreciate all your efforts, let us all continue to be vigilant while celebrating and ensure we maintain the highest level of combat readiness to guarantee security during the festive period and beyond”, Abubakar added.
Earlier, the Commander of Air Task Force, Operation Lafiya Dole, Air Commodore Abubakar Abdulkadir, said the Christmas luncheon was one of the many gestures of CAS aimed at raising the morale and spirits of troops serving in frontline units in the fight to restore peace and normalcy to the Northeast and Northwest regions.
He said it was indeed worthy to note that the CAS had been providing the ATF necessary support to effectively carry out its statutory mandate in support of Operation Lafiya Dole.
He noted that: “The improved serviceability rates of our platforms from 35 percent in 2015 to over 80 percent in 2020 and the acquisition of various air platforms and weapons systems are testaments to the assiduous commitment and efforts of the present leadership of the NAF.
“In addition to the various facilities constructed here in Maiduguri, the construction of 2 blocks of accommodation for officers and another 2 blocks for airmen in presently ongoing.”