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The Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has lauded the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, for taking steps, including the emplacement of necessary facilities as well as the deployment of air assets and Special Forces (SF) personnel, to bring the menace of armed banditry and kidnapping to an end. The Governor disclosed this today, 4 May 2019, while commissioning the 271 Nigerian Air Force Detachment (271 NAF Det) at Birinin Gwari in Kaduna State. He said the Detachment, which was established to serve as support Base and a blocking force for troops in Operations DIRAN MIKIYA and SHARAN DAJI, would be crucial to the success of Anti-Banditry Operations in the Northwest Geopolitical Zone of the Country.
Governor El-Rufai, who was the Special Guest of Honour (SGOH) at the ceremony, said it was gratifying to know that the Armed Forces of Nigeria, particularly the NAF, was not leaving any stone unturned to see to the end of the menace of terrorism and armed banditry. He said the establishment of the 271 NAF Det Birnin Gwari could not have come at a better time, especially now that the country was grappling with various internal security challenges. He expressed confidence that the NAF would, as always, commit itself to professional conduct and discipline in the discharge of its assigned roles and responsibilities, while assuring that the efforts and sacrifices of the Service would not be in vain. In his words, “the nation appreciates your selfless sacrifice for the peace and security of our communities”. He further assured that the Federal Government would continue to strive to ensure the implementation of policies and projects towards improved welfare of troops, especially those in theatres of operations. Mallam El-Rufai reiterated the Federal Government’s absolute commitment to the total defeat of Boko Haram and other forms of criminality in the Country. He equally pledged that the Kaduna State Government would continue to support the NAF in all its locations in the State, including Birnin Gwari.
Speaking further, the Governor thanked the Emir of Birnin Gwari for providing part of his farmland for use in establishing the Detachment, which he said was in keeping with the long-standing customs of the Northern traditional institution. He equally commended the CAS for the support received from the NAF in various areas including the acquisition of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the Kaduna State Internal Security Surveillance System, which was commissioned by Mr President in February 2019. He also expressed appreciation for the immense contributions made by successive Air Officers Commanding (AOCs) of the Air Training Command (ATC) to internal security operations in the State which had led to a drastic reduction in criminal activities. The Governor equally commended the forthrightness of NAF AOCs and Commanders in turning down funding from the State Government for security operations, since such funding was already provided by Headquarters (HQ) NAF. Moreover, he expressed delight that the deployment of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms had enhanced security operations in support of ground troops. He however requested for the deployment of additional NAF SF personnel for the joint patrols along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway as well as to operations in Kajuru area of the State.
Earlier in his remarks, the CAS, expressed delight to be in Birnin Gwari for the commissioning of the 271 NAF Det, which, he said, was conceived barely 6 months ago, in response to the emerging security imperatives in the area. He said the Det would undoubtedly add impetus to the operations to neutralize and flush out armed bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers from the Northwest. He however noted that the establishment of the Det would not have been possible without the full support of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari. He also recognised the immense contributions of the National Assembly, through its Committees on Defence and Air Force in the Senate and House of Representatives. “The NAF is equally grateful to His Excellency, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State and the good people of Birnin Gwari for providing the land. The NAF can only continue to say Thank you”, he added.
The CAS emphasized that the NAF would continue to build capacity, both human and otherwise, in order to more effectively and efficiently respond to national security imperatives. In this regard, he noted that the NAF had winged 92 pilots in the last 4 years, with another 117 undergoing pilot training both within and outside the country. Air Marshal remarked that the Service had more than tripled the number of its trained Regiment and Special Forces personnel to man the Quick Response Groups and Wings established in different parts of the Country, under the Special Operations Command (SOC), in the last 4 years. These he said were done in a bid to bring security closer to the people. He reiterated the NAF’s firm resolve to defend the Nation’s territorial integrity whilst dealing with all internal security threats in coordination with sister Services and other security agencies.
In his welcome address, the AOC SOC, Air Vice Marshal Napoleon Bali, noted that the commissioning of the 271 NAF Det was a demonstration of the CAS’ pragmatic leadership and commitment to ensuring the enabling environment for effective, professional performance. He therefore pledged the Command’s determination to ensure the security of Nigerians within its area of responsibility. Before departing Birnin Gwari, the Governor was conducted on an inspection of facilities already emplaced at the Detachment, including fuel facilities, office and residential accommodation as well as the Helipads. He was also briefed on the capabilities of the newly acquired Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter, which along with other helicopters, would be operating from the Helipads at the 271 NAF Det. Dignitaries at the event included some members of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, the Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, the Emir of Birnin Gwari, His Royal Highness, Mallam Zubairu Jibril Mai Gwari ll, the Chairman of Birnin Gwari Local Government Area (LGA), Branch Chiefs from HQ NAF as well as many other senior NAF officers.