….WARNS ON DANGERS OF FAKE NEWS AS HE COMMISSIONS RESIDENTIAL ACCOMMODATION IN MAKURDI
In continuation of his visits to Nigerian Air Force (NAF) units and formations across the Country to ascertain current operational status as well as keep personnel abreast of policy direction, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar has paid a visit to the Tactical Air Command (TAC), NAF Makurdi.
In a statement by Air Force spokesman Air Commodore, Ibikunle Daramola, the CAS during the operational visit, held an interactive session with officers, airmen and airwomen, where he urged them to remain loyal and absolutely dedicated to their constitutional role of protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity by air.
He also warned against the dangers of fake news. The visit equally afforded the CAS the opportunity of commissioning 4 Airmen’s Quarters recently renovated as part of the extensive infrastructural upgrade by the current NAF leadership to improve the welfare of NAF personnel.
The renovated quarters include 2 blocks of 12 x one-bedroom flats for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and another 2 blocks of 6 x 2-bedroom flats for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs). The CAS also assessed progress of work on some ongoing projects in NAF Base Makurdi.
Air Marshal Abubakar expressed his appreciation to officers, airmen and airwomen for their various contributions to NAF operations in the Northeast, Northwest and North-central Theatres, amongst others. He added that their efforts and dedication were responsible for the successes recorded in these theatres of operations. The CAS reiterated that his desire, upon assumption of Office, was to have a highly-professional and disciplined fighting force for effective and efficient employment of air power in response to national security imperatives. He expressed satisfaction that in the last 4 years, the Service had made substantial progress in achieving this. “To achieve this objective”, he said, “we had to expand our organizational structure by creating 2 additional Commands – the Special Operations Command (SOC) with Headquarters in Bauchi, while the erstwhile Training Command was unbundled to create the Air and Ground Training Commands (ATC and GTC)”. He further stated that the SOC, with its component Quick Response Groups and Wings (QRGs and QRWs), was specifically established to bridge identified gaps in the force protection capability of the Service whilst also enhancing NAF’s contribution to internal security operations across the Country and bringing security closer to the people.
In terms of aircraft acquisition, the CAS highlighted that through the tremendous support of the Federal Government, the NAF had inducted 29 brand new aircraft in the last 4 years with another 20 new ones being expected in the next 2 to 3 years. Meanwhile he noted that the Federal Government’s support had also facilitated the reactivation of 20 erstwhile unserviceable aircraft, which were currently adding value to operations in the various theatres.
In terms of training and human capacity development, he noted that by October 2019, the NAF would have winged 115 pilots, in just over 4 years, with another 94 student pilots undergoing training both locally and abroad. He specifically highlighted that among the 13 pilots who would be winged in October, are the first NAF female fighter pilot and the first NAF female combat helicopter pilot. The CAS equally observed that many other NAF specialties were also receiving attention. He noted that, in the area of personnel welfare, the NAF had embarked on massive infrastructural development including the establishment of new medical and educational facilities as well as the upgrade of existing ones within the last 4 years. He pointed out that 2 Reference Hospitals were established in Bauchi and Daura, while the NAF Hospital in Port Harcourt had also been upgraded to a Reference Hospital. He also added that other NAF Hospitals and Medical Centres had witnessed upgrade of medical equipment. Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the NAF had renovated and constructed new blocks of classrooms and hostel accommodations in existing NAF schools across NAF units while establishing 2 new secondary schools. These are the Air Force Girls Comprehensive School Abuja and the Air Force Secondary School (AFSS) Shasha, Lagos. He remarked that the AFSS Kaduna had also been upgraded to a boarding school and renamed Air Force Comprehensive School Kaduna. Moreover, the CAS disclosed that the NAF, through massive construction of new residential accommodation and renovation of existing ones, had been able to raise the level of accommodation sufficiency from 35 to about 72 per cent, despite almost doubling the strength of its personnel in the last 4 years. While observing that accommodation challenges still existed in terms of number and quality, especially in Makurdi, he promised that the NAF would continue to take necessary action with a view to eliminating the deficiencies.
Earlier in his remarks, the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command (AOC TAC), Air Vice Marshal Charles Ohwo, whilst welcoming the CAS during commissioning ceremony, expressed delight that the CAS’ visits to the Command always bring benefits in terms of improvement of operational capabilities as well as enhancement of personnel welfare. He pledged the commitment of all personnel of the Command to mission accomplishment whilst urging beneficiaries of the remodeled blocks to ensure that the facilities are properly maintained. Also present at the commissioning ceremony were Branch Chiefs from Headquarters NAF, the Commandant Air Force War College, Commander Operation WHIRL STROKE, Commandant Nigerian Navy Provost School, Deputy Commandant Nigerian Army School of Military Engineers as well as Principal Staff Officers from TAC and Commanders of co-located Units in Makurdi, along with other senior NAF officers.