The outgone Chief of Air Staff, retired Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on Tuesday in Abuja flew out of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), having served as the country’s 20th Chief of Air Staff.
In the NAF, “Fly-Out” parades are customarily organised, in line with military traditions, to bid outgoing air chiefs farewell as they retire from service.
Abubakar, in his valedictory speech at the Air Force Base, Abuja, expressed appreciation to God for sparing his life throughout his tenure and for making it possible to witness the event.
“I thank God for giving me the exceptional privilege of being at the helm of affairs of NAF since July 13, 2015.
“I thank Him for His support and protection during my tenure and for allowing me to successfully exit from the service, having served as the 20th Chief of Air Staff,” he said.
The outgone air chief also expressed his appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians for the opportunity given to him to add value to the air force as well as contribute to the security and development of Nigeria.
Abubakar also lauded the National Assembly, particularly the Senate and House Committees on NAF, the Minister of Defence and his entire staff for their contributions to the successes which the air force recorded during his tenure.
Abubakar congratulated the new Chief of Air Staff, AVM Oladayo Amao, and urged him to consolidate on the good work he met on ground.
He also urged all the personnel of NAF to continue to give their best in the service of the country.
“I am exceedingly delighted and profoundly honoured that we have worked together as a team with all officers, airmen and airwomen and the civilian staff to move NAF to a much higher level.
“In the last five years, we have been able to restructure and reposition the service into a highly professional and disciplined force.
“The flag of the Nigerian Air Force is today flying high in Agatu, Gembu, Gusau, Katsina, Daura, Owerri to Birin Gwari, Ipetu Ijesha, Kerang, Gombe and Bauchi.
“By the special grace of God, Funtua will soon join up. The current structure will certainly add a lot of value to NAF’s efforts at securing Nigeria and its citizens,” he said.
Abubakar expressed confidence that with the 15 aircraft and eight unmanned combat aerial vehicles which NAF was expecting, the air force would soon be in a better position address the nation’s security challenges more decisively.
He said that with the arrival of the aerial vehicles, NAF would be able to deploy air power more effectively, efficiently and timely in all theatres of operations across the country.
He, however, urged the new air chief to sustain and build on the capacity building initiatives which his administration had put in place in the last five years.
Abubakar noted that the service, through the initiatives, had trained and winged 133 pilots who today constituted 49 per cent of all active NAF pilots fighting in different theatre of conflicts to secure the country and protect its citizens.
He also said that another batch of 21 pilots would be completing their training before the end of the first quarter to join others in the fight to defend nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.