By Bode Olushegun
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar on Wednesday revealed that 33 Boko Haram settlements in the Northeast have been destroyed in 2020.
Abubakar made the disclosure in Maiduguri during the commissioning of projects executed by the Air Force at the Air Taskforce, Operation Lafiya Dole.
The AirForce chief said the Boko Haram terrorist group has been weakened by the constant bombardment revealed that he was in Maiduguri to prepare ground for deployment of more troops to reinforce the gains of the last four months.
He said he was in Maiduguri on operational visit and to critically appraise Nigerian Air Force operations at the theatre of war in the first quarter of 2020, noting that his visit was also to identify if there are difficulties, gaps and to find out if the troop was able to achieve what the force has set out to achieve at the beginning of the year.
The CAS told journalists that: “I want to tell you that from the briefing I have received, we have made very substantial progress, destroyed 33 Boko Haram enclaves, flew over 1,600 hours. And the environment is very conducive.
“I have seen the expansion in terms of accommodation and in terms of other welfare structures that are required, and the serviceability of aircrafts which is being achieved with the relocation of the aircraft hangar from Minna to Maiduguri, has improved servicibility under Maiduguri harsh weather.
“The security challenges being faced by our country Nigeria are obstacles to our development that can only be surmounted if we remain resolute in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminality.
“I however make bold to say that we have, so far, confronted these malicious elements head-on, and for that, I am proud of you all – gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Air Force.
“The Nigerian Air Force, through the Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole, has continued to perform very critical roles in providing the much needed air support required for ground operations.
“In pursuit of the Nigerian Air Force’s constitutional roles, and also in line with my vision for the NAF, I have constantly sought, not only to evolve strategies that would enable the Service adequately project air power to effectively and efficiently deal with prevalent security threats, but to also see that personnel welfare is given utmost priority.
“In line with my vision, my administration will continue to do the best we can to ensure that accommodation problems are eradicated in the NAF. As we commission these projects today, I urge you all to utilize the facilities with a high sense of responsibility,” Abubakar said.
He however expressed gratitude to the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari for his support to the Nigerian Air Force towards the achievement of its desired air power goals.
The CAS urged personnel to adhere to all the preventive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic while discharging their duties in fighting the Boko Haram terrorists to a standstill.
The Commander Air Taskforce, Operation Lafiya Dole, Air Commodore Precious Amadi, had earlier thanked the Chief of Air Staff for always making it a priority to visit Maiduguri and for initiating new projects to make personnel in the frontline more convenient.
Amadi recalled that during the last visit of the CAS, he commissioned a state-of-the-art Hangar for maintenance of the aircraft fleet deployed to the Air Task Force.
“Today, you are here for an operational visit and replicating similar gesture in the commissioning of not one, but three projects at the same time.
“The CAS commitment to the provision of equipment and infrastructure for the optimum performance and comfort of NAF personnel, especially those of us in the Northeast is beyond amazing.
“The projects he has commissioned include, the New ATF Operations Centre, Senior Non Commission Officer’s Mess and a block of 1 x 30 blocks for Airmen,” Air Commodore Amadi said.