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Opinion: 140 Days in Office of Chief of Air Staff Hassan Bala Abubakar: A Period of Remarkable Progress and Challenges

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Opinion: 140 Days in Office of Chief of Air Staff Hassan Bala Abubakar: A Period of Remarkable Progress and Challenges

By: Rosemary Moribirin

Since his assumption of office as the Chief of Air Staff about 140 days, Air Marshal (AVM) Hassan Bala Abubakar have been marked by significant accomplishments, underscoring his commitment to transforming the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and fortifying the nation’s security. Born on September 11, 1970, hailing from Shanono Local Government Area of Kano State, his journey from enlisting in the NAF as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 39 to becoming a commissioned Pilot Officer on September 19, 1992, epitomises a career of dedication and excellence.
Appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on June 19, 2023, Air Marshal (AVM) Hassan Bala Abubakar’s ascendancy to the helms of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) was more than a mere change in command; it heralded a new era of strategic vision and transformation for the institution.
AM Abubakar’s prolific military service is underscored by an extensive array of educational and professional accomplishments. His diverse training, encompassing courses in flying, infantry operations, amphibious operations, command, and staff courses, as well as experiences in various critical appointments, has equipped him with a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted demands within the Air Force.

His extensive training includes courses in flying, infantry operations, amphibious operations, command, and staff courses. His experiences range from leading squadrons and teams to commanding air operations in different capacities within Nigeria and in international peacekeeping missions. Notably, he led significant operations at the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, showcasing his leadership prowess on a global platform.
AM Abubakar’s exceptional contributions and leadership have earned him a slew of awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Star (DSS), Passed Staff Course (psc), and Fellow Defence College (fdc). He is not just a decorated military officer but also a well-educated individual with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Science from the Nigerian Defence Academy and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Under his leadership, one of the noteworthy achievements has been the procurement of 51 new aircraft, a substantial augmentation aimed at boosting the NAF’s operational capacity.
Additionally, the recent reception of 2 Diamond-62 aircraft further demonstrates the concerted efforts towards modernization and readiness.
Under the stewardship of AM Hassan Bala Abubakar, the Nigerian Air Force has evolved into a formidable force, committed to countering terrorism and ensuring national security. His tenure has seen a commitment to bolstering the force with superior equipment while focusing on the quality of training for officers and personnel.
The NAF under CAS Abubakar exemplifies a dedication to hotter firepower against terrorism and an unwavering commitment to the welfare and preparedness of its personnel, cementing its status as an exemplary institution of defense and security in Nigeria.
The successful airstrike operations against insurgents in Borno State, resulting in the elimination of nearly 22 terrorists, highlight the NAF’s proactive stance in countering threats posed by groups like Boko Haram. These operations, crucial for national security, show the Air Force’s unwavering commitment to addressing the ongoing security challenges in the region.
Ensuring the welfare of the staff within the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been a pivotal aspect of Air Marshal Hassan Bala Abubakar’s tenure, reflecting a commitment to the well-being and effectiveness of the men and women serving in the force.

  1. Improved Living Conditions: AM Abubakar’s leadership has put a significant emphasis on improving the living conditions of NAF personnel. Efforts have been made to upgrade and modernize accommodation facilities, providing comfortable and conducive living spaces for the officers and airmen, contributing to their quality of life.
  2. Training and Skill Development: Recognizing the critical role of continuous training and skill development, AM Abubakar has implemented programs to enhance the training curriculum for NAF personnel. The focus is on fostering a culture of continuous learning, upskilling, and professional development, ensuring that the officers and airmen are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills required for their duties.
  3. Healthcare and Well-being: Ensuring access to quality healthcare services is a priority. The leadership has taken measures to improve medical facilities, ensuring that personnel have access to comprehensive healthcare services. Additionally, wellness programs and mental health support have been instituted to address the overall well-being of the staff.
  4. Family Support Programs: AM Abubakar’s administration has implemented family support initiatives to provide assistance to the families of NAF personnel. These programs offer support in various forms, such as education, housing, and counselling, contributing to a stable and supportive environment for the families of those serving in the Air Force.
  5. Motivational and Recognition Schemes: Recognizing the dedication and commitment of NAF personnel, motivational and recognition schemes have been put in place to acknowledge and reward exemplary service. This serves to boost morale and motivation among the staff, fostering a sense of pride and loyalty within the organization.

AM Abubakar’s focus on staff welfare aimed to create a conducive and supportive environment for the men and women of the Nigerian Air Force, acknowledging their crucial role in the nation’s defense. The emphasis on comprehensive welfare initiatives reflects a commitment to nurturing a workforce that is not only highly skilled and capable but also supported and motivated in their roles.
However, alongside these achievements, the Nigerian Air Force faces formidable challenges. The persistent threats of terrorist attacks, as evidenced by the ability of Boko Haram militants to bomb aircraft, signify the grave risks posed to both military assets and civilian lives. Additionally, the complexities of the security landscape, the continuous need for advanced technology, and the ongoing requirement for improved intelligence and surveillance capabilities pose constant challenges in safeguarding lives and property.

Addressing the vulnerabilities that allow for successful attacks on air assets remains a critical challenge for the NAF. Strengthening defenses, employing advanced countermeasures, and enhancing surveillance capacities are vital components in overcoming these threats.

AM Abubakar’s leadership has been proactive in addressing these challenges, but the road ahead requires a concerted and sustained effort. Tackling security threats, especially against air assets, demands continual vigilance, innovations in technology, and ongoing enhancements in training and strategic initiatives.

As Air Marshal Hassan Bala Abubakar steers the Nigerian Air Force, his tenure embodies a commitment to progress, resilience, and addressing challenges to ensure a safer and more secure Nigeria. His visionary leadership, marked by achievements and a steadfast approach to tackling security concerns, sets a promising trajectory for the NAF’s continued growth and success in the face of evolving threats.
Thus far, Air Marshal Hassan Bala Abubakar’s leadership in the initial 140 days have seen notable achievements in enhancing the Nigerian Air Force’s capabilities. Nevertheless, the challenges of securing life and property, especially against persistent threats from insurgent groups, remain a crucial focal point for the NAF’s strategic planning and operational execution under his stewardship.

**Rose Moribirin, a public affairs analyst, contributes this piece from Abuja.

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Nigeria: Why the youths must say “NO” to protest. 

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Say "NO" to Protest

Nigeria: Why the youths must say “NO” to protest. 

By: Dr. James Bwala

History should teach us lessons. And we have so many examples that are part of the history of some countries around us. Protests as being engineered and called for are never in the interest of the young Nigerian; rather, they are a way to further suppress and darken the future of young ones, and therefore, I see this as another evil rising on Nigeria, which I hope the youths will see as reasons not to be tempted to join those who do not mean well for them and for Nigeria. Those who want to cash in on the protest to their advantage are pushing their own evil interests to deny the young Nigerian his or her own hope for the future. 

I followed many calls on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and listened to many voices calling on the Nigerian youths to join them on the days to demonstrate and show their displeasure to the government over hunger in the land. They claimed it was about a policy, and I did not really understand the truth about such claims. Some pointed to the issue of insecurity that people cannot go to their farms and blamed the present administration led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, and on this too, they are not speculating on facts that are leading them to want to express anger through protest. 

I could not understand why all the things they are pointing to have been on their doorsteps for over 10 years and they would not protest until now. Does it mean that their eyes are now open to the situation we all found ourselves in? I have lived in northeastern Nigeria, and I have seen situations created by insecurity where children, young men, and adults hold each other’s hands and cry out for help to have a drop of grain and for one cut of a handful of mold grain flour to go through their mouths and down their throats for the day, but they could not have the assurance of such a meal. No one came to the rescue; no one called for a protest, and the people built their resilience until the heavens brought succor. 

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The situation in which certain individuals are coming to tell young Nigerians to protest or to demonstrate against the administration requires a deeper look into their motives. It may not be about hunger in the land afterwards, for we have endured many hungers and we did not protest, so why now? Politics is still in the play, and a few individuals—I mean, very few individuals—who are not happy with the Tinubu and Shettima administration are orchestrating the wind horses. Some young Nigerians may think otherwise, but believe me, there are many more evils behind the call for protest than what you are hearing on social media, and these are about destroying a whole lot of what you have hoped for. 

I will suggest that no Nigerian youth should join or listen to calls from those who have sent their children abroad for you to continue to be their foot soldiers, and in the end, they achieve something and you achieve nothing. Take a look at the protests or demonstrations in the past. Not outside Nigeria, but within. Some of you have participated, and you are still on the street after that protest. Your peace and happiness have been taken. Those you fought for—have they come to salvage your situation? Unless you want to remain perpetually a fool on the street with very little to gain and no knowledge of what you are bargaining, then you may choose to go with the evil callers; otherwise, say ‘NO’ to protest as it is not actually in your interest. 

This administration, which you are being instigated to demonstrate against, has won many battles in the last year. The latest in the Hope initiative are the achievements of the court ruling on local government autonomy. This government has achieved free imports for drugs and rice and brought peace through the establishment of the livestock ministry. These are a few achievements from the last six months. We have waited for eight years in hope through the Buhari administration, and no one has seen positive changes, but we waited. Herein, with the Tinubu and Shettima administrations, we are seeing the moves and the results. Can we not hold on to this renewed hope since we are seeing the changes coming? 

Nigerian youths, let no one deceive us into doing their bid. They have places to go; we only have Nigeria, which is all we have. When they moved out, we remained here. They cannot come from Europe and America to ask us to set our houses on fire while they go back to their second homes and leave us in the shackles that we used our own hands to perpetuate their desires against us for their selfish and evil interests. No, we must not come to the level they want us to reach. We must rise with renewed hope and join this administration to build a Nigeria where peace and justice reign, just as we pledged to build in our re-engineering calls for a better tomorrow. 

Dr. James BWALA, PhD, writes from Abuja.

Nigeria: Why the youths must say “NO” to protest. 

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Why Borno residents should support the Zulum Administration

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Why Borno residents should support the Zulum Administration

By: Yusuf Adamu

Unfortunately, the lack of electricity and shortage of water in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, have continued to turn some sections of the state against the government. While many are thinking it is the government job to provide electricity and water, a lot of people are not looking at the efforts the government is putting in during the phase of challenges from saboteurs and terrorists as it affects the issues of electricity in the state, particularly.

Borno State has been in darkness for the last two weeks, and the governor spoke with concern from faraway Saudi Arabia, where he went to worship, and he was informed of the electricity issue back home. Professor Babagana Umara Zulum has done tremendously well in ensuring that Borno State overcomes the issue of electricity, to the extent that he went beyond his jurisdiction to ensure that he solved the problem.

He went further to collaborate with the NNPC, which informed the setting of a gas plant in Maiduguri to support the epileptic power supply as a result of the continuous attacks on the electricity supply lines feeding Maiduguri. However, the activities of saboteurs, who would rather, out of their greed, overload the gas plant, have constantly resulted in the disruption of the gas plant’s capacity to provide adequate supply.

Rather than people condemning the government for some of this man-made distraction, I think the people of Borno State should pray for an end to the activities of terrorists and the saboteurs who continuously take advantage of the situation to speak ill of the government. If the opposition is speaking, we would understand, but when citizens say otherwise, we would like to remind them that the governor of Borno State has been doing everything possible to make Borno State great. 

The collaboration with NNPC and the purchase of electric vehicles to ease pain for people are things to see and agree that the governor meant well for his people. This is aside from the numerous projects he was able to achieve in the state. We are also lucky to have the Vice President, who is our own and whose focus is also to see Borno State become great again.

Just yesterday, he was speaking on the issues affecting the state when he arrived in the state for the sallah celebration. He gave hope for a better Borno state and spoke well of the collaboration the federal government is having with Borno state to end the perennial challenges facing the state at the moment. Let us continue to uplift our leaders in prayer and support their dream of making Borno one of the best things that happens to its people in the current administration.

***Yusuf Adamu writes from Maiduguri and is the former political adviser to Kashim Shettima.

Why Borno residents should support the Zulum Administration

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Katampe Estate: An iftar special for both Muslims and Christians in Abuja

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Katampe Estate: An iftar special for both Muslims and Christians in Abuja

By: Dr. James BWALA

Residents of Urban Shelter Katampe Estate, Jahi, in Abuja organize an iftar—breaking of the fast. One may think that this is only for the Muslim community in the estate, but it was special for the residents of the estate to demonstrate love and togetherness as well as promote and showcase peaceful coexistence amongst the adherents of the two major religions in the country. Christians were part of the jolly evening, and I am also there to share the joy and happiness that brought together human beings that are working to bring understanding and support for one another, as should be in the spirit of Ramadan.

iftar at Urban Shelter, Katampe Estate

It was a gathering that brought the lowly and the might men and women. I kept an eye out and captured the mood, which triggered happiness and informed my decision to write on this. Indeed, if everyone would take a line with this example of love amongst the two religions in the country, we would not be asking what is wrong with the system that governs us as a nation.

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I was invited for iftar as always by my brothers, who are Muslims, but this one was different. It has been a tradition that the Katampe Estate has kept for years. I was told by some people that we were seated at the same table that those who introduced the occasion desire a community where peace is truly said and practiced, and that can only be achieved when both Muslims and Christians understand that we all have to be humans and also understand that we are all created by God for his worship.

The explanation as I listened gave me the understanding that the problem with Nigerians is not about the religion we practice but the individual understanding of the region we all practice. If the residents of the Urban Shelter Katampe Estate in Jahi have this understanding of building a community, I believe there are many lessons we can learn from their coexistence, where a Muslim and a Christian can look into each other’s eyes with love and sincere wishes.

iftar special at Katampe Estate in Jahi

On the table where I sat, the talk and laughter made me see that Nigeria can build a stronger state if there is understanding between humans and everyone wants the good of the other, as everyone was encouraging each other to eat from the variety and trying to help one another get the best of the table. Such selfless understanding should always be practiced. 

Perhaps I write this piece to trigger the adoption of such an attitude not only in a month like Ramadan but also in all days and months in each year of our existence as people and as a nation. If we can all inculcate this and put it as part of our daily lives, there would not be hunger in the land, and everyone, as I see at the Katampe Estate, where both the mighty and the lowly eat together to their satisfaction and more food remains for a takeaway, reminded me of the Biblical feeding of the five thousand. And this, in my opinion, is the gospel.

James BWALA, PhD, writes from Abuja.

Katampe Estate: An iftar special for both Muslims and Christians in Abuja

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