In keeping with his tradition of celebrating festive seasons with Nigerian Air Force (NAF) frontline troops, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has hosted luncheons to celebrate the Yuletide season with personnel of the Air Task Force (ATF) Operation, LAFIYA DOLE (OPLD) in Maiduguri and Yola as well as NAF troops serving in Katsina under the Defence Headquarters (DHQ)-led Operation HADARIN DAJI (OPHD). The Christmas Celebration Luncheons, which held on 25 and 26 December 2019, were aimed at appreciating the troops for their efforts and sacrifices whilst also alleviating the pains of their inability to celebrate the festivities with their immediate families.

Speaking at the NAF Base Maiduguri during the Christmas Day Luncheon, the CAS, who was represented by the Chief of Training and Operations Headquarters NAF, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Oladayo Amao, said such get-togethers help to foster comradeship while providing an avenue for the NAF to appreciate the efforts of all personnel involved in the counter insurgency operations. While commending the ATF Commander and his personnel for their efforts in the fight against insurgency and congratulating them specifically for the effective execution of the recently concluded Operation RATTLE SNAKE, Air Marshal Abubakar charged them to sustain the current tempo of operations with a view to ensuring that peace is restored to troubled communities in Northeast Nigeria. He urged them to redouble their efforts towards completely ridding the Northeast and other parts of the country of terrorists and other criminal elements to enable people go about their lawful activities without hindrance. The CAS further reminded them of the fact that much was at stake in the counter insurgency effort, and so much was expected of them. He therefore charged them not to allow themselves to be caught unawares. “I implore you to remain committed and focused on the objective of the Operation while you remain vigilant to protect property and men as well as equipment put under your care”, he added.

In his welcome address, the ATF Commander, Air Commodore Precious Amadi, used the opportunity to appreciate the CAS for his continued support to OPLD, explaining that the NAF has continued to provide all necessary facilities to ensure that troops are effective in the discharge of their duties. “We can only say thank you by giving full commitments to our duties. We therefore, once again, pledge our unwavering loyalty to the service of the NAF and the nation at large," he said.

A similar Christmas Luncheon was held for troops of the ATF OPLD serving in Yola. The event, which took place at the NAF Base Yola on 26 December 2019, had the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, Alhaji Ahmad Bashir, who represented the State Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, as the Special Guest of Honour. In his remarks, the Governor commended the ATF OPLD for its contributions towards ensuring a secured environment for the State Government to provide much needed services to its citizens. He commended the personnel for their immense sacrifices in the fight against insurgency as well as for securing the territorial integrity of the country. He said the Adamawa State Government, on its part, would continue to provide necessary support to the NAF, sister Services and other security agencies to enable them be effective in the discharge of their duties.

The event, which was put together by the Commander 153 Base Services Group Yola, Air Commodore Muhammed Yusuf, also had the ATF Commander, other Adamawa State Government officials as well as senior officers from the Police and other security agencies in the State in attendance.

At the luncheon held for troops of the Air Component of OPHD in Katsina on 26 December 2019, the CAS, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command (AOC SOC), AVM James Gwani, said he always looked forward to the opportunity of spending festive occasions with NAF’s gallant personnel who are working tirelessly to achieve peace and stability in various theatres of operations within the country as it was yet another avenue to appreciate them for standing in harm’s way to keep others safe.

Speaking further at the event, which also had the Director of Security, Katsina State, Alhaji Ibrahim Daku, who represented the Katsina State Governor, Honourable Aminu Bello Masari, in attendance at the Luncheon, the CAS observed that the excellent delivery of Air Power and maintenance of high levels of efficiency in combat service delivery while away from loved ones, reflected the AC OPHD’s adherence to the NAF’s core values of excellence and placing of service before self. He said the NAF, on its part, would continue to provide conducive in-theatre environment by ensuring that the operational and welfare needs of the Component were adequately met.

Air Marshal Abubakar noted that in the last 4 years, the NAF has made giant strides by inducting new platforms and reactivating grounded ones while giving priority attention to the training of its personnel. He noted that some of the newly acquired platforms, such as the Agusta A-109P, were already being employed extensively in the Northwest Theatre with very positive effects on operational tides in the battlespace. He disclosed that more platforms would soon be inducted to further enhance the operational capability of the Service. He attributed these achievements to the immense support of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. He equally appreciated the continued support of host communities of the AC OPHD who, he said, had provided a home in all the locations where NAF forces are deployed. While restating the NAF’s commitment towards maintaining the prevailing peace in the Northwest region, the CAS charged the troops to remain committed to the strategic goal of ensuring national security and development through dedication to service, loyalty to nation and steadfast professionalism.

The CAS also appreciated the families of the OPHD personnel, who, he said, have held the fort at the home front, thus ensuring that the personnel are well-motivated and focused at the frontline. He pledged that the NAF, in addition to the provision of basic amenities, would continue to make strides to improve on the already high standards of educational and medical services provided to personnel’s families.

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