Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

The Nigerian Air force (NAF) personnel and its aircraft deployed in the counter insurgency/banditry operations across the county have recorded significant successes in recent months through renewed bombardments of insurgents and bandits enclaves. BENJAMIN SAMSON in this report examines how the leadership style of Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao is changing the narrative in the air operations.

The Nigerian Air force and surface troops have been in the forefront of Nigeria’s counter insurgency operations against Boko Haram /Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists in the North-east and bandits terrorising innocent communities in the North-west and some parts of North-central regions.

Visionary leadership

Since his appointment as the 21st Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 26, 2021, Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the Nigerian Air force (NAF) optimally performs its constitutional role. He has vigorously pursued his vision for the NAF which is, “To enhance and sustain critical airpower capabilities required for joint force employment in pursuit of national security imperatives”.

To effectively pursue this vision, Air Marshal Amao formulated five key divers of his vision which are; focus on doctrinal development and application of airpower in joint environment, pursuit of purposeful training and human capacity development, sustenance of platforms and equipment serviceability through innovative maintenance methods and logistics support systems, foster a disciplined workforce essential for combat readiness and bolster morale by improving personnel welfare.

Significantly, the visionary and purposeful leadership of the CAS has in no small measure boosted the morale of officers, airmen/airwomen and pilots deployed in the fight against insurgents and bandits.

As part of his commitment to practical leadership, Air Marshal Amao has on several occasions visited and interacted with frontline troops of the Air Component Operation HADIN KAI in the North-east and Operation HADARIN DAJI in the North-west in order to boost their morale and to know their challenges first hand with a view of addressing them.

For instance, during one of those meeting with frontline Air Officers Commanding (AOC) and Air Component Commanders (ACCs) at the NAF Base recently in Kaduna, the CAS charged the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) operational Commanders in the various theatres of operation across the country to ‘show no mercy’ and ensure they employ maximum firepower against terrorists posing security threats in the country.
Doing so, according to the CAS, will deny the terrorists freedom of movement while boosting the confidence of the populace and ensuring a peaceful country.


Likewise, it is important to note that since assuming office, President Muhammadu Buhari has fully supported the Armed Forces of Nigeria in general and indeed the NAF in particular through the procurement of new platforms to enable them achieve their set objectives.

The Director of Public Relations and Information of the NAF, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, told Blueprint that the federal government between 2015 and 2022, has acquired 38 new platforms for the NAF.
Some of the newly acquired platforms include; 10 Super Mushshak trainer aircraft, 5new Mi-35m Helicopters gunships and 2 Bell 412 helicopters.

Others include 4 Augusta 109 Power attack helicopters, 2Mi-171E helicopters, 3 JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft and A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.

Several Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were also procured to boost NAF operational capabilities.

Air Commodore Gabkwet said, “With more platforms, definitely the reach of the NAF is extended and by implication, its firepower is also increased against all enemies of the state.

“Mind you also that some of the new platforms use precision guided munitions which makes it easier to pick and hit on specific targets with very minimal collateral damages,” he added.

Human capital

Similarly, in pursuit of the second key driver of his vision, which is to pursue purposeful training and human capacity development and in a bid to raise the competence level of personnel so as to contain insurgency and other security challenges in the country, Air Marshal Amao has ensured that the NAF personnel receive best trainings both at home and abroad.

So far, a total of 73 pilots have been trained Belgium, Egypt and Pakistan, amongst others since this administration assumed office. Also, many students’ pilots are currently undergoing training in South Africa, United States of America as well as in NAF training institutes in Nigeria.

Similarly, many officers, airmen/airwomen have undergone diverse training courses at home and overseas cutting across several specialties and trade.

Speaking earlier this year when NAF winged five new pilots after undergoing requisite courses, Air Marshal Amao, said the ceremony highlighted the determination of his leadership to sustain critical airpower capability required for joint force employment in pursuit of national security imperatives.

“ Ninety-nine officers and 24 airmen and airwomen are undergoing various training across various specialties in various countries including the USA, UK, South Africa, India, France Egypt and Pakistan among others.

“In addition 2,656 Nigerian Air Force personnel across all specialties are being trained to deliver airpower in light of NAF’s involvement in theatres of operations across the country,” he said.
Also, as a firm believer in welfare of officers and men, the CAS has gone out of his way to boost the morale of personnel through promotion of personnel and prompt payment of allowances.


Indeed Air Marshal Amao’s proactive leadership style and rearmament of the NAF by the federal government have reflected in the successes being recorded in theatres of operations across the country.

It has yielded results in the fight against insurgency, banditry, kidnappers, cattle rustling and other criminal elements. Many terrorists and armed bandits have been neutralised while several others have been arrested. In addition, thousands of terrorists (combatants and non-combatants) and their families have surrendered to troops of Operation Hadin Kai in the North-east.

Specifically, the Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, Maj. Gen. Christopher Musa recently said over 80,000 Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists and their families surrender to the government in the last one year.

Maj.-Gen. Musa attributed the success of the military to the new wave of bombardments of the terrorists’ enclaves by NAF fighter jets in the region which led to serious degradation of the insurgents and the death of many of their commanders.

Terrorists’ commanders neutralised

Similarly, in the last few months, top Boko Haram/ISWAP and bandits commanders have been neutralised by NAF airstrikes. Their facilities and structures have also been destroyed.
Specifically, troops of the Air Task Force (ATF), Operation Hadin Kai in the North east, through precision airstrikes on August 3, 2022 on Mandara Mountain in Gwoza local government area of Borno state, neutralised a notorious commander of Boko Haram, Alhaji Modu, also known as ‘Bem Bem’. Modu was killed alongside 27 other terrorists.
In a related development, the air component of Operation HADARIN DAJI in the North-west conducted another precision bombing on identified notorious terrorists leaders Gwaska Dankaramis camp at Mashekari area in Zurmi Local Government Area and Sani Dangote Camp in Farara village in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina state.
Following the airstrikes, a suspected terrorists leader identified as Dogo Rabe and 7 members of his gang were reportedly neutralized in the encounter while other fled in disarray.
Furthermore, the air component of Operation HADARIN DAJI on 13 September 2022 conducted air interdiction operation at identified terrorist hideout in Dutse Babare in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina state. The air strike led to the neutralization of a terrorist leader identified as Ibrahim Dangawo and other members of his gang.
Similar operation was carried out at Gidan Guga in Faskari Local Government Area also in Katsina state, at an identified terrorist enclave. The airstrike led to the neutralization of a terrorist kingpin known as Babaru who has been on the wanted list of security agents.

Facilities too

Also, NAF aircraft under the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai, while acting on credible intelligence struck a target at Somalia in Sambisa Forest suspected to be a terrorist hospital and health care facility on 9 September 2022.
Somalia, a location near SAMBISA Forest, was believed to be where the terrorists have a medical facility where wounded fighters as well as those critically ill were. After the air strikes, several structures were observed destroyed and numerous terrorists neutralized.
Similar successful operations were also carried out by the NAF in Kastina, Kaduna, Zamfara and Niger states.


Significantly, the successes of the NAF bombardments in recent months attracted the commendation of the Senate President Ahmed Lawan when he said that the security situation in the country has improved in the past one month.

Lawan noted this during an event themed, ‘National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Insecurity in Nigeria,’ organized by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, in Abuja on Friday 9th September, 2022.

He said, “Security situation in the country has improved in the last one month. Only recently, President Muhammadu Buhari gave a marching order to the Armed Forces to extinguish bandits, kidnappers and other criminal agents that are against the state and her citizens, by December 2022.

“This administration is committed to achieving this set target. Accordingly, the past few weeks have seen security agencies flushing out terrorists from their hideouts in Kaduna Birnin-gwari axis, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto. Similar results were recorded in Niger, where, like in Kaduna, the Nigerian Air force neutralised many terrorists.”

Air Commodore Gabkwet enjoined Nigerians to continue to provide security agencies with credible intelligence that will enable the agencies track and neutralize the terrorists and all criminal elements.

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