By Rosemary Moribirin
Since his assumption of office as the Chief of Air Staff about 140 days, Air Marshal (AM) 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 (AM) 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.