In November 2019, in a piece titled, ‘NAF: Consolidating a strategic and logistical Airbase in Bauchi’, I had written that; “The most visible of the dividends of the change agenda, that has come the way of Bauchi, is the siting of an Airforce Base in Bauchi, just adjacent The Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport… The Airforce base is fully operational with state of the art facilities, and that includes a modern diagnostics hospital. The base also has a nursery and primary school”. Further on, I stated that, “The Executive Secretary of TETFUND, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, during the Lemph Zaar annual cultural festival in Tafawa Balewa, announced the approval by Mr. President, the establishment of an Airforce University in Tafawa Balewa local government area of Bauchi”.
In the last segment of the article, I underscored the fact that; “Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar’s exploits in the service of the Airforce have been as far back as his appointment in Maiduguri, Borno state, where he served as chairman task force on petrol scarcity, and then chairman on revenue generation. I waxed on that, “Today’s war on terror largely owes its successes to the contributions of a new, robust and effective Nigeria Airforce. Operation ‘Tsaftan Daji’ in Zamfara state is a crystal example of how lethal they’ve become.”
On February 10, 2020, in yet another piece titled, ‘Al-Sadique and the elephant army’, I detailed that, “CAS_AMSadique (Chief of Air Staff Al-Sadique, has procured and inducted 22 brand new Aircraft, of both fighter aircrafts and helicopter gunships. An additional 17 new ones are also expected in 2021, which include the 12 Super Tucano Jets. CAS also informed Mr. President that Nigerian Airforce pilots have gone abroad to undergo special training for the newly acquired fighter jets; especially the J-17 fighter jets. This was revealed during the induction of another series of combat helicopters which are the 3 brand new birds, NAF 581, 579 and 578; and also 2 numbers Agusta 109E power helicopters and Mi171e combat helicopter. There is also ofcourse the Mi-35 Attack helicopter that was also inducted at FCT Eagle Square, in the heart of the Central Business District of Abuja. In the said article, I highlighted the deployment by the Airforce, of the NAF (ISR) Aircraft, which is an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Aircraft, used to unearth the location and movement of the terrorists. This was instrumental in the attack on the terrorists at Bukar Meram, a border town of Borno state, by the Lake Chad Basin, where they were spotted to be regrouping. I summed up my presentation by impressing upon the glaring fact that, “The most lethal arm of the military offensive against terrorism and banditry, has been the NAF; CAS Al-Sadique has turned our airpower into a superpower” I said.
On May 17, 2020, I celebrated NAF at 56 with an article titled, ‘NAF at 56: The reinvention of one of Africa’s finest Airforce.’ A few days before the piece, NAF had winged a female helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Chinelo Nwokoye. 8 months before then, Flying Officer Kafayat Sani was winged as NAF’s first female fighter pilot, while Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile was winged as its first female combat helicopter pilot. I wrote: “With the inscription ‘land soft party hard’ on the motif on her shoulder, Flying Officer Arotile, took President Muhammadu Buhari, on a tour of the new combat helicopters acquired by the Nigerian Airforce.” I also wrote that, “The Nigerian Airforce has built the Nigerian Airforce Special Forces Regiment, with the core mission of protecting Airbases and ground infrastructure. These specially trained men consist of special ops, paratroopers, amphibious troops who are much more trained than your average airman. The Nigerian Airforce has been able to produce and launch several unmanned aerial-craft (drones), which have been used for intelligence gathering, and for aerial bombardment of targets in the NAF’s war against terrorism and banditry. Such include the first drone it launched, tagged ‘Tsegumi’, along with a new hedracopter that is just to be commissioned, which has the ability to drop missiles on targets within a range of 250km.”
I wish former CAS Al-Sadique was not quitting the security scene yet, so as to consolidate on the accomplishments of his tenure as Air Chief. I wished he was named the Defence Chief; but I guess the general clamor for new hands is blindsided to this wish. I have never met Al-Sadique during his tenure as Air Chief, and neither have I ever communicated with his office; and so therefore, my coverage of his tenure as Chief as usual, is borne out of the support and encouragement of Buharism and Buharists. We firmly believe in the ideology – Buharism, and go the extra mile to promote and launder the achievements and the personalities behind the good works being recorded. Some opposition elements find a hard time in understanding that Buharists do not get paid, to exhibit or to unroll their Buharism. It is in our DNA of patriotism and wishes, as well as prayers for the betterment of our country. Buhari may have come short in so many things; but Nigeria, our country and motherland, has never come short. We will therefore defend her and love her, till death do us part, even if it means that we are ‘martyred’ in service for her sake! We are the new generation that went to unity schools, had NYSC all over the country, after going to different Federal Colleges across the length and breadth of Nigeria. We owe her immensely and may God help us deliver her. Patriots like Al-Sadique are shining examples of Nigeria’s servants that we love to celebrate and emulate. Well done Saddiqu – GARU (Bauchi) is proud of you.Tahir is Talban Bauchi