In its continued determination to improve the welfare of its personnel to effectively and efficiently tackle various contemporary security challenges in the Country, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, today, 8 February 2020, commissioned some infrastructure projects at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base, Kaduna. The commissioned projects include the rehabilitated water storage and supply system, which was expanded from 600,000 to 1.2 million litres of potable water capacity per day as well as a newly renovated block of 12 x 2-bedroom Married Officers’ Quarters. While at NAF Base Kaduna, the CAS also inspected some ongoing projects including the remodeling/reconstruction of 2 blocks of 30 x 2-bedroom accommodation for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers as well as a 250-capacity girls’ hostel at the Air Force Comprehensive Secondary School Kaduna.

Speaking during the commissioning ceremony, the CAS stated that, in his desire to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined fighting force for the effective, efficient and timely employment of air power, he had taken bold steps to ensure the Service has the right organizational structure, right equipment holding, right human capacity as well as the right welfare incentives to ensure personnel are properly motivated for effective service delivery. He noted that emplacing the right structure had entailed the expansion of the organizational framework from the erstwhile 4 Commands to 6, with the establishment of 2 new Commands - the Ground Training Command (GTC) and the Special Operations Command (SOC). He stated that the SOC, with its component Quick Response Groups/Wings and NAF Detachments across the Country, has particularly added value by bringing security closer to the people. He said the establishment of GTC had, on its part, improved NAF’s training capacity for ground specialty personnel. He noted further that the expanded organizational structure, with the newly established units, had enhanced NAF’s response capability in dealing with national security threats, in conjunction with sister Services and other security agencies.

In terms of having the right equipment holding, the CAS disclosed that, with the support of the Federal Government, the NAF had acquired 22 brand new aircraft since 2015, including the 2 Agusta 109 Power and one Mi-171E Combat Helicopters inducted into the Service by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, 6 February 2020. Added to these, he said, the NAF was also expecting 16 more aircraft that had been paid for and would be delivered soon. These included 12 Super Tucano Multirole Attack Aircraft from the United States of America, 3 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Aircraft from Pakistan and an additional Mi-171E Combat Helicopter from Serbia. Meanwhile, he disclosed that the NAF had also reactivated over 20 erstwhile unserviceable aircraft, thereby raising its aircraft serviceability rate from an abysmal 35 percent in 2015 to a current average of between 78 and 89 percent.

While highlighting efforts to ensure the right human capacity and welfare incentives, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that he viewed the human being as the most critical factor in any working system. Accordingly, he said, steps had been taken to increase the strength of personnel with multiple recruitment exercises undertaken since 2015, while at the same time embarking on massive training programmes for personnel of all NAF trades and specialties to ensure that they have the right knowledge and skillsets to be effective in the discharge of their duties. Furthermore, he said the massive construction and renovation works being executed in NAF Bases across the Country were aimed at ensuring that personnel have conducive residential and office accommodations along with good schools, healthcare facilities as well as other amenities, like the upgraded water supply system that was being commissioned. While expressing satisfaction with the quality of the projects, especially the remodeled block of 12 x 2-bedroom Married Officers’ Quarters which was executed through direct labour by the NAF Works Centre, the CAS directed the immediate commencement of renovation work on the 2 adjacent blocks.

Speaking further on capacity development, the CAS mentioned that the Regiment Training Centre (RTC) had become a Centre of Excellence for the training of NAF Regiment and Special Forces (SF) personnel, who were critical to the NAF’s Force Protection efforts that ensure the security of NAF Bases and air assets to facilitate the effective projection of Air Power. The CAS said he was extremely proud of how the NAF Regiment and SF personnel had not only provided effective Base Defence but were also adding value to Internal Security operations across the country. He noted, for instance, that 250 SF personnel were currently operating in Gusau, Zamfara State in anti-banditry operations in the Northwest, while another 250 were deployed to Benue State, amongst other theatres of operation. He emphasized that the NAF would continue to work tirelessly, in concert with sister Services and other security agencies, to ensure the security of Nigeria and Nigerians.

In his welcome remarks, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) GTC, Air Vice Marshal Idi Amin, whilst appreciating the CAS for his unending support to NAF Base Kaduna, stressed that the projects would provide the enabling environment for the professional performance of the personnel. According to him, the current NAF administration, under the leadership of Air Marshal Abubakar, being mindful of the contemporary security challenges, has, since assumption of office, deliberately pursued the capacity building drive of the NAF Regiment Specialty to better conduct Base Defence operations in both conventional and asymmetric warfare environments. He therefore thanked the CAS for giving top priority to the modernization, re-equipping and continuous training of Regiment personnel, whilst assuring him that GTC would continue to deliver on its mandate of training personnel to meet emerging national security challenges.

Present at the event were the Chief of Defence Intelligence; Chief of Administration NAF; Commandants of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Air Traffic Services Training Centre and Air Force Institute of Technology; General Officer Commanding 1 Division; AOC ATC as well as many other senior military officers.

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