The Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has solicited for the establishment of a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base in Kogi State.
He made the solicitations during a courtesy visit to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao at Headquarters NAF.
According to Bello, the establishment of a NAF Base in the State would curb the activities of bandits as well as facilitate intelligence gathering against criminal elements who have established safe havens in some parts of the State.
Governor Yahaya further disclosed that solicitations had previously been made to the NAF by the State in 2017, to consider establishing a Forward Operating Base (FOB) at a colonial era airstrip in Zariagi near Lokoja, to which the NAF responded in 2018 by dispatching a reconnaissance team to survey the suitability status of the location for consideration.
The Governor also stated that the need to revisit the matter became necessary in view of the activities of bandits and other criminal elements who have relocated to the State after military operations in September 2020 at Utu Forest situated between Nasarawa and Kogi States forced them out of their comfort zone.
Governor Yahaya Bello further revealed that bandits fleeing from the intense fire power of the military in the Northeast and Northwest have regrouped in locations between Lokoja and Kabba/Bunu, a situation that has forced residents of these areas to relocate to other parts of the State for safety.
In consideration of the threats posed by these criminals, and the strategic importance of the State, the Governor continued, the need for the revitalization of the talks on the establishment of an FOB had become necessary.
Earlier, Governor Yahaya had commended the CAS for his consistent responsiveness towards the activities of insurgents and armed bandits.
The Air Staff Chief, in his response, commended Governor Bello for early detection of the activities of bandits and for his efforts at securing Kogi State. He noted that bandits and other criminal elements have, of recent, upped thier game in mobility as “once they come under intense fire in one location,they quickly migrate to another location in search of a safe hiding place”.
Amao however assured the Governor that the mandate by President Muhammadu Buhari that the nation must be rid of all criminal elements remains on course and in no distant time, the security situation in Kogi State and environs would take a positive turn.
On the request for the establishment of an FOB, Air Marshal Amao assured the Governor that a team will be constituted to review the report submitted in 2018 with a view to reactivating the plan for the establishment of the FOB, pointing out that, “the fact that an airstrip already exists in the proposed location is an advantage.”
Highlight of the visit included the laying of wreath by Governor Bello at the NAF Memorial Arcade in respect of NAF personnel who had paid the supreme price in the course of duty.
The visit was witnessed by Branch Heads from Headquarters NAF and some members of Kogi State Executive Council.