The Executive Governor of Borno State, His Excellency, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has commended the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for consistent responsiveness in its counter-insurgency operations in Borno State and the entire North East of the Country. He said the commitment and dedication of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, as well as officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF had curtailed the activities of the insurgents and limited their scope of operations. Governor Zulum disclosed this today, 11 August 2020, when he visited the CAS at Headquarters NAF Abuja.
Speaking further the Borno State Governor, while commending the NAF for its consistent contributions towards the restoration of lasting peace to Borno State and other States in the North East, equally appreciated the Service for regularly providing airlift support to the State Government. He equally commended the NAF’s laudable humanitarian interventions in the State, including its numerous medical outreaches and the Level 2 Hospitals established by the Service at the Bama and Dalori Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps, which provide free, qualitative healthcare services to the IDPs. While highlighting the need for political solutions to address the root causes of the insurgency, which, he said, included poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, amongst others, the Governor noted that there was urgent need to ensure the return of IDPs to their homes in a safe and dignified manner.
Governor Zulum further noted that, while the State had suffered a number of attacks in the past 2 years or so, over 90 per cent of these had been successfully repelled through the robust, timely actions of the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE. He therefore commended the ATF for its consistent speedy response. “Whenever I receive any report of an attack or crisis in any location, I immediately call the ATF Commander and within a few minutes, the NAF aircraft are usually airborne to deal with the issue”, he added. The Governor said Borno State and indeed the entire Nation would therefore continually remain indebted to the efforts of the NAF under the current leadership. He however solicited for sustained joint air and land offensive against specific areas within the Lake Chad and Sambisa Forest areas, observing specifically that the Lake Chad was, at a time, responsible for employment of over 10 Million people. He said there was need to ensure a return of normalcy to the area in order for the people to reap the socio-economic benefits of the Lake.
In his response, the CAS noted that the NAF, in collaboration with sister Services and other security agencies, would continue to work tirelessly to ensure the security of the people of Borno State and the entire North East. He assured the Governor that the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies would not allow any individual or groups to undermine the Nation’s territorial integrity or sovereignty. Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the ability of the Service to carry out its constitutional roles had continued to be boosted by the provision of adequate resources by the Federal Government. He noted that the NAF, with the support of the Federal Government, had acquired 22 brand new aircraft and was expecting another 17 manned aircraft, while 10 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) had also been procured and would be deployed for various operations to cover the vast 705,000 square kilometres area of the North East, North West and North Central States.
Speaking further, the CAS disclosed that, since 2015, the NAF had significantly scaled up its presence in the North East to meet national security imperatives. He highlighted that the Service now has the Special Operations Command as well as a Reference Hospital and the 201 Composite Group located in Bauchi. He stated that the NAF had equally established a small unit in Damaturu, Yobe State to enhance the reach of its air operations. Similarly, the CAS said a Quick Response Wing, made up of NAF Regiment and SF personnel, had been established in Gembu, Taraba State to deal with the issue of farmers/herders clashes, which broke out in the area about 2 years ago. He also disclosed that, while the NAF had emplaced an aircraft maintenance hangar in Maiduguri to improve maintenance capability for aircraft deployed in the North East Theatre, the Service was also on the verge of establishing a new Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Gombe State. Air Marshal Abubakar concluded his remarks by assuring the Governor that, with the increased presence of the NAF in all the States of the North East as well as the deployment of additional air assets, insurgency and other forms of insecurity would soon be stamped out.
Before departing HQ NAF, Governor Zulum was led by the CAS to the NAF Memorial Arcade to pay his respects to aircrew who had paid the supreme price in the line of duty. Also present at the visit were some senior Borno State Government officials and Principal Staff Officers of the NAF Headquarters.