The Chief of Air Staff, (CAS) Air Marshal Sadiqe Abubakar has said the Force is presently exploring ways of contributing to efforts at cleaning up the polluted environment in the Niger Delta region.
Abubakar, who was represented by the NAF Chief of Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal James Gbum stated this yesterday at the opening ceremony of the maiden Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) foundation course for Nigerian Air Force (NAF) personnel at the National Defence College Abuja.
He said the increasing involvement of the NAF in internal security and counter insurgency operations across the country in recent past has clearly highlights the need for more conscious effort to earn and sustain public support and cooperation for success in NAF operations and activities.
Abubakar said the NAF Directorate of Civil- Military Relations was necessary at this point since recent experience has shown that counter insurgency and internal security operations takes place in populated areas.
The Force in a bid to be community friendly according to the Air Chief has established NAF Emergency Hospitals for IDPs in Dalori, Maiduguri where free eye treatment were given to members of host communities also medical outreaches to various IDP camps in Maiduguri, Yola and Abuja among others.
He said NAF has also been involved in Quick Impact Projects like sinking of bore holes, provision of tents, toilet facilities as well as other requirements for IDP camps and host communities.
” It is therefore hoped that your training will equip you to consolidate on the apparent and potentials benefits of these modest efforts of the NAF towards winning the hearts and minds of the populace in support of our operations and activities.
” Accordingly, as you go back to the units, you will be expected to initiate programmes and activities aimed at preemptively managing the CIMIC challenges presently facing the NAF” the Air Chief said.
Some of the challenges the trained personnel are expected to focus on when deployed Abubakar said include; allegations of human rights violations against service and or service personnel; allegations of collateral damages arising from NAF operations; negative media publicity arising largely from arms probe; conflicts between personnel and civilians occasioned by accommodation of personnel outside of NAF barracks amongst others.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director, Civil – Military Relations, Air Commodore Afam Chukwu said the Directorate was established to initiate, coordinate the implementation of policies and programmed designed to win the hearts and minds of the civil populace in support of NAF operations and activities.
He said the Directorate will serve as a veritable platform for mutually beneficial interface between the Service and the public, sister services, other security agencies, civil society groups, international organization and partner MDAs.
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