The government of Gombe State has donated 230 hectares of land for the establishment of Nigerian Air Force Forward Operational Base (FOB) in the state.
According to a statement by the spokesperson to Governor Inuwa Yahaya, Ismaila Misilli, on Tuesday, the gesture is to facilitate swift response to the air force’s counter-insurgency operations in the North-east.
He said the governor has also approved a space at the Gombe airport for the smooth take-off of a full-fledged base that will enhance NAF’s response capability in combating insurgency and other security threats.
Mr Misilli said the governor made this known when he received a delegation of senior officers from the Headquarters of the Nigerian Airforce, led by Idi Lubo, an Air Vice Marshal, who was in the state at the instance of Chief of the Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar.
The governor said the establishment of the NAF FOB in Gombe State, being the centre of the troubled North-east will boost security in the state and stability in the region.
He thanked the Chief of the Air Staff for considering Gombe to host the NAF FOB, describing the move as strategic in view of the centrality of Gombe in the North-east sub-region and the peaceful atmosphere in the state.
“You all know that we existed as one in the North Eastern days and we share boundaries with all the five other states in the region – Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi and Taraba states – so this centrality places us at an advantage.”
He, however, noted that such an advantage comes with the added responsibility of having to host internally displaced persons from the neighbouring states due to the Boko Haram insurgency.
Mr Yahaya said the influx of the IDPs into the state equally comes with the challenge of living with people whose real identity cannot be substantiated, adding that lack of organisational capacity and limited resources further leaves the State from achieving much in terms of profiling.
He described Gombe as a peaceful state because the people have accepted and agreed to live in peace with one another regardless of tribal or religious differences.
The governor said Gombe is pleased to host individuals who seek refuge in the state but canvassed for more support from federal agencies to address some of the inherent challenges. He described the establishment of the FOB as a step in that direction.
The governor said his administration will continue to run an open-door policy and a relationship that is complementary in nature.
A clear example of such a complementary relationship, the governor said, was the ceding of the NYSC orientation camp built by the state government some 13 years ago but now being used by the federal government as a de-radicalisation and rehabilitation centre for repentant Boko Haram.
Speaking earlier, the leader of the delegation, Mr Lubo, said the choice of Gombe as a NAF FOB was informed by its strategic location and availability of a suitable airport.
He said the FOB, when established, will boost security and ensure stability in the North-east sub-region.
“The NAF FOB will facilitate the country’s overall efforts to address the menace of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east in general and enhance security in Gombe state in particular.”
Mr Lubo said going through the field in Borno State, he understood that the people of the area are left behind in terms of physical and human capital development. He said there is a strong correlation between underdevelopment and conflict of whatever sort.
He, however, observed that Gombe is lucky to have an administration that is keen and passionate for the socio-economic development of its people.
The highlight of the visit was the presentation of the title document of the 230 hectares of land allocated by the governor for the project.