NEW YEAR MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF
By Air Marshal S. B. Abubakar, Chief of the Air Staff
It is with great pleasure, and gratitude to the Almighty, that I hereby wish all officers, airmen/airwomen and civilian staff of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) a Happy and Prosperous Year 2019! Let me congratulate us all for entering into this new year full of hope and expectations, and also express my profound thanks to you, for your patriotism, dedication to duty, commitment and hard work, as well as your countless sacrifices made in service to our Great Nation.
Over the past three-and-a-half years, the NAF has made giant strides and recorded significant achievements in the ongoing fight against terrorism, insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country. In this regard, our modest accomplishments have been greatly facilitated by the enhancement of our aircraft holdings through acquisition of new platforms and reactivation of existing ones. In addition, we have raised the standards of professionalism in the Service through robust human capacity development, coupled with the expansion of NAF organisational structure and systematic augmentation of our personnel strength. Also of note has been the focus on improving personnel welfare and result-oriented Research and Development (R&D) which have had a marked positive impact on our operational effectiveness.
The totality of these achievements enabled us to project Air Power, not only within our country in the various theatres of conflict but also beyond our shores. Our Alpha Jets were the first and only fighter aircraft deployed in the Gambia to actualise the mandate of the Gambian people and facilitate the peaceful handover of political power to President Adama Barrow. The C-130s, flying the Nigerian flag, also transported humanitarian relief materials to the Sierra Leonean people after the unfortunate mudslides that affected that country in August 2017. The NAF thus stands ready to continue to fulfil its primary responsibilities whilst also providing aid to civil authority in whatever roles that may from time to time be required.
The outgone Year 2018 was indeed marked by both challenges and opportunities; however, the NAF, with the vital support of all stakeholders, was able to exploit the opportunities while overcoming the challenges encountered along the way. In the fight against Boko Haram, we saw the emergence of new tactics as well as the introduction of highly experienced and skilled fighters and technology, as ISIS elements, dislodged from Syria, relocated to the North East of our country. Our gallant fighter and helicopter gunship pilots are adapting creditably to these emerging nuances and making good progress, despite recent setbacks.
The Year 2019 similarly promises to be filled with challenges and opportunities, and we must gear up to make the most of the opportunities for greater service delivery, whilst leveraging our collective resolve to surmount the inherent challenges. I therefore enjoin all NAF personnel to march into the future with the rugged and optimistic determination for which we are known, while remaining professional in the discharge of your constitutional duty of ensuring the security of our Beloved Nation and its Good People. You must be courageous, take the battle to the terrorists and fight them to the finish not minding the malicious propaganda of the terrorists and their sympathisers. You must also remember, in the course of your duties, to always show compassion and respect for all law-abiding citizens. Furthermore, as the 2019 General Elections draw near, I urge you all to remain apolitical in your professional duties, and firmly resist any entreaties to be used against the interest of our Beloved Nation by any unscrupulous elements. Nonetheless, you are encouraged to exercise your legitimate rights to vote for the candidates of your choice on Election Day.
The various achievements recorded by the NAF over the years would not have been possible without the enabling environment and resources provided by the Federal Government under the leadership of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. We therefore thank Mr President for the confidence reposed in the Service and pledge our commitment to even greater output in this new year. We also appreciate the tremendous support from the National Assembly, Ministry of Defence, Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Army and Navy as well as other security agencies, and, of course, the Nigerian people.
Finally, I once again wish you and your families a Happy and Prosperous New Year!