By Lazarus Zakaa, Abuja.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has disclosed that the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) Port Harcourt would be taking on more roles in the area of maritime security as it would serve as one of the operating bases for the 3 special mission aircraft being deployed to Benin as part of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Deep Blue Sea Project, aimed at comprehensively addressing insecurity and criminality in Nigeria’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The CAS made this known today, 20 January 2021, while commissioning a Computerized Tomography Scan (CT Scan) machine and a block of 30 x one bedroom accommodation for airmen at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base Port Harcourt.
The acquisition and installation of tha CT Scan facility at the NAF Reference Hospital Port Harcourt is aimed at enhancing medical services to personnel and their families as well as the NAF’s host communities.
The CAS, while highlighting the crucial role 115 SOG plays in supporting the NAF’s operations in various Theatres across the Country, further noted that, given the imminent delivery of the special mission aircraft, the NAF had begun the upgrade of infrastructural facilities on its Port Harcourt Base, to ensure that personnel remain focused on their tasks and contribute in adding value to the Service.
He noted that the new CT Scan machine had been installed with this in mind, whilst the Air Force Secondary School (AFSS) was being upgraded to a Comprehensive Secondary School with the construction of male and female students’ hostels currently ongoing.
According to him, “the NAF has been providing the much-needed air support at various Theatres of Operation across the Country, in which 115 SOG plays very crucial roles. In recognition of the crucial roles being played by the officers and men of 115 SOG in achieving the noble objective, the NAF has intensified efforts to address the challenge of inadequate living accommodation for airmen/airwomen whilst taking steps to improve educational and healthcare delivery facilities for personnel and their families”.
Air Marshal Abubakar therefore commended the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command (AOC TAC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Olusegun Philip, as well as the Commander 115 SOG, Group Captain Dooyum Laha, and his personnel for their efforts towards ensuring the security of the Nation.
He stated that the NAF Headquarters, on its part, would continue to provide all necessary support to enable the Unit function more effectively and efficiently.
While fielding questions from the Press on the NAF’s ongoing contributions to the fight against COVID-19, the CAS noted that the Service has continued to provide Liquid Oxygen (LOX) from its Plant at the 103 Strike Group (103 STG) Yola and airlifting them to COVID-19 Management Centres in Abuja and other locations across the Country. He noted that the 103 STG LOX Plant produces 1,000 litres of LOX in 24 hours, which is in excess of the NAF’s requirements for its air operations and for use in its Medical Centres across the Nation.
Hence, the LOX Plant has, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, been producing clinical oxygen for distribution to COVID-19 Management Centres and designated Hospitals, as part of measures to support the management of serious COVID-19 cases.
The CAS equally highlighted that the NAF had employed its C-130H aircraft (NAF 913 and NAF 917) to airlift thousands of Kilogrammes of medical equipment and other materials procured by the West African Health Organization (WAHO) for distribution to 13 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries to help curb the spread of the virus, while also conducting several airlift missions within the Country during the lock-down period.
He emphasized that the NAF would sustain the free provision of LOX, in addition to airlift missions, in continued support of the Government’s efforts towards combating the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In his welcome address, the AOC TAC, while expressing gratitude to the CAS for the various laudable projects on the Base, noted that the CT Scan facility would undoubtedly enhance the provision of qualitative healthcare services for NAF personnel and their families as well as host communities in Rivers State and indeed the entire Niger Delta Region of the Country.
According to him, “the commitment of the CAS to the provision of infrastructure for the optimum performance and comfort of NAF personnel, especially NAF base Port Harcourt, is very impressive and well appreciated”.
The AOC therefore reassured the CAS of the firm resolve and dedication of personnel to do their utmost in contributing to the peace and security of the Country.
Others present at the event were the Joint Task Force Commander, Operation DELTA SAFE (OPDS), Rear Admiral Akinjide Akinrinade, and NAF Branch Chiefs as well as Service Commanders and Heads of Security Agencies in Port Harcourt.
Before leaving Port Harcourt, the CAS also inspected ongoing construction work at the AFSS Port Harcourt as well as other projects on the Base.