The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, has attributed the operational successes in the ongoing counterinsurgency operations to the dogged determination, commitment and sacrifices by officers and men of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
The CAS has also said that the killing of his personnel by the Boko Haram terrorists notwithstanding, the NAF, is now more determined to remain focused to realise a secured, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria
Abubakar, made this known at an award night held to honour, appreciate and recognise the personnel who had distinguished themselves and made invaluable contributions to the development of the service and the nation and those who have paid the supreme price in the course of duty.
“The out-gone year was indeed very challenging for the NAF, especially in its quest to tackling the various security challenges confronting our dear country. During this period, the NAF contributed tremendously to the counter-insurgency operation against Boko Haram terrorists in the North East through the provision of close-air support to surface forces and conduct of several independent air operations.
“The NAF also contributed peers and conducted air operations in support of Op WHIRL STROKE in the north-central and Op SHARAN DAJI in the north-west regions of the country. All these efforts have contributed significantly to the relative peace and security experienced in these parts of the country.
“The operational successes achieved particularly in the out-gone year would not have been possible without the dogged determination, commitment and sacrifices made by our officers and men.
“These personnel operate under very demanding and tough conditions in the various theatres of operations, with some, unfortunately, paying the supreme sacrifice. Hence, this event is aimed at recognising and honouring some NAF personnel who have distinguished themselves in the course of their duty. These personnel have made significant contributions towards the attainment of NAF overall objectives, while some amongst them have made huge sacrifices to ensure the preservation of peace and security in the country. The occasion is also meant to celebrate personnel who showed courage in the face of terror and exhibited strength where others saw fear; personnel who applied ingenuity where others perceived impossibility.
“It is this courage, ingenuity and resourcefulness variously demonstrated by our personnel that we all are gathered here tonight to celebrate by giving special recognition to those who deserve it. The men and women that would be honoured tonight are a few of the numerous resilient personalities that abound in the NAF. They epitomised one of the core values of the NAF, which is “Service before self.” Through their efforts, I have no doubt that we are on our way to building a fighting force the nation yearns for and the Air Force that we all would be proud of.”
Among those honoured posthumously were the five crew members who died in the NAF Mi-35M helicopter crash on January 2, while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion in Damasak, Borno State.
They were Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob – Pilot in Command; Flight Lt- Kaltho Paul Kilyofas – Co-Pilot; Sgt. Auwal Ibrahim – Flight Technician; Lance Corporal Adamu Nura and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael, both gunners and Bello Baba-Ari, who died during the air display rehearsal to mark the country’s 58 independence anniversary at Katamkpe, Abuja.
Also honoured were officers who have distinguished themselves in service in senior and junior categories. Those honoured in the senior officers’ category were: Wing Commander Mohammed Umar, Squadron Leaders Sunkanmi Akinbohun, and Ubong Sunday.