NAF: Consolidating a strategic and logistical base in Bauchi




Bauchi is the home and ‘political shrine’ of PMB’s support base and Bauchi alone accounts for 1 million, of the 12 million unwavering votes for General Muhammadu Buhari, all through his sojourn in politics, evolving into a new President Muhammadu Buhari. Whether he contests in APP, ANPP, CPC or APC, Bauchi doles out one million votes for PMB. The love between PMB and Bauchi is unquestionable, and has been even before Katsina his home state, and Kaduna his adopted state; started doling out one million votes each, to the success of his elections over time. A fall out of this political commitment by Bauchi, has been the deprivation and exclusion of the state – from particular federal attention that would manifest in terms of projects and human capital development. Nevertheless Bauchi has trudged on, largely depending on federal allocation, with little or no investment in its vast natural and human resources. One such example is the abandonment of oil exploration in the state, despite glaring seismic evidence of the endowment in gas and other fossil fuel deposits.

Luck shone on Bauchi when GMB won his elections for the first time in 2015. The change agenda had Bauchi in mind and the state benefitted from a whole host of federal appointments, as its political loyalty bore fruits. Ofcourse there is the statutory one minister per state, which is held by Mal. Adamu Adamu, who is minister for education – which has now been further improved with Bauchi having two ministers, the 2nd being Haj. Maryam Katagum, as minister for industry, trade and investment. Bauchi has INEC chair, Prof. M Yakub, Custom’s boss Hamid Ali (our great border-keeper), and TETFUND Executive Secretary, Prof. Bogoro. We also have the Executive Secretary, National Board for Colleges of Education, NCCE, Prof. Bappah Aliyu Muhammadu, and lastly, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, as Chief of Air Staff. PMB’s ‘kitchen cabinet’ also has Mal. Ya’u Darazo as Special Assistant Special Duties. We also have Mal. Maikanti Baru as GMD NNPC, and most recently Alh. Bala Wunti as MD PPMC. Another later day appointee from Bauchi state is the Chief Justice of the Supreme court, Alh. Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed. There are also quite a number of top security aides of Mr. President who hail from Bauchi. On the face of it, Buhari is from Bauchi, going with the number of top appointments from the state. A cursory look shows that all the Bauchi appointments are quite key and sensitive to the workings and successes of the PMB’s govt.

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, a few kilometres out of Bauchi town, along the Bauchi-Ningi-Kano highway. Within no time, the project was commenced back in 2016, and completed within a period of one year and a half. The Airforce base is fully operational with state of the art facilities, including a modern hospital with the most advanced equipments for diagnosis and treatments of special medical cases. It also has a nursery and primary school. Both the hospital, and the school, have attracted patronage from Bauchi town, in view of the standards of the facilities and the equipments they boast of. The then Government of M A Abubakar gave the Airforce the land  for the base free. It sits on 464 hectares, while a whopping compensation of 496 million was paid by the state as its contribution to the base which the governor believed would help fine tune the security situation in the state and the North east in general.

Artisans, contractors, suppliers of building materials, transporters and operators of other economic activities in Bauchi, were gainfully employed by this huge project. The usual lull in production or commercial activity in Bauchi was suddenly upturned, and Bauchi metropolis was a beehive of activities, throughout the duration of the project. Land owners too were adequately compensated, as they all smiled to the banks. The Chief of Air Staff was on hand, on the hour every hour, keeping a close tab on the progress of work. The project was completed in record time, and was commissioned by Mr  President when he visited Bauchi.

Just last week, 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 state. He stated that the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University centre in Tafawa Balewa, would be christened the new Airforce University. This shows great synergy between the Chief of Air Staff, and the minister of education. The existing structure will be built upon, to fast-track the timely delivery of the University Campus, just the way the Air Chief delivered the Airforce base along Ningi road. The economic benefits of this gargantuan project in Bauchi cannot be over-emphasised. It will create employment for youths, provide jobs for local contractors, suppliers and traders, and Bauchi’s meagre GDP of just over $4700 will definitely quadruple, if not even more.

Air Marshal SB Abubakar’s exploits in the service of the Airforce have been as far back as his appointments in Maiduguri, Borno state, where he served as chairman task force on petrol scarcity, and also chairman on revenue generation. SB Abubakar has made enormous efforts in the revitalization of the Nigeria Airforce and its repositioning. 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, and most recently the repelling of terrorists at Damaturu 3 days ago, are crystal examples of the transformation of the Nigeria Airforce and how lethal they’ve become. Colonel Gerhard Kahtz, commander of the German Airforce assistance group, who was the pioneer Air Chief of Nigeria back in 1963, would certainly be proud of SB Abubakar and what he has done with the Airforce in such a short time.

Bauchi would be more than elated to have the chief of defense staff in the person of Air Marshal SB Abubakar, and the Bauchi economy would certainly be the better for it – aside ofcourse monumental reforms and advancements that Sadique is sure to bring to the nation’s defence architecture. If the political marriage between PMB and Bauchi hitherto, was one sided or parasitic; today Bauchi is reaping the dividends and dowry of this marriage made in heaven. One wonders if PMB had actually understudied the political sophistication of Bauchi, right from the days of Sa’adu Zungur, and therefore built his political empire around Bauchi people. Whatever the case may be, Bauchi is agog with the news of a new institution that will change the lives of its inhabitants.

Tahir is Talban Bauchi

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