Hon. Godwin Offiono
By Ignatius Ushie
The Member representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency and Deputy Chairman House Committee on Police Institutions, Hon. Godwin Offiono has decried the alleged plans to discontinue the establishment of the Air Force Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Ogoja, Cross River State.
The Hon. member said the FOB Ogoja should be developed and equipped and not de-established, highlighting the benefits of national infrastructure in the state.
Offiono’s complaints came on heels of alleged rumours that the current Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar is planning on de-establishing the Base.
According to Hon. Offiono, such Air Force Base would not only bring development to the state, but also ensure security of the region.
On the 22nd of August 2022, the immediate past Chief Of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao rtd, did the groundbreaking of the Nigerian Air Force Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ogoja, Cross River State, following the approval for the establishment of the Base by the then President, Mohammadu Buhari.
At the Groundbreaking Ceremony in Ogoja, Air Marshal Amao rtd, stated that the need for an FOB in the southern-most part of Cross River State became expedient after a review of NAF’s doctrine, force structure and Order of Battle.
He stated further that besides the reviews as reason behind the establishment of the FOB, the NAF has also found it strategically crucial to extend its reach for effective employment of air power towards the maintenance of peace in the country.
Additionally, the former CAS noted that the initiative was also premised on Cross River State’s strategic location as a border town with both the Southeast and the North Central geopolitical zones of Nigeria and more importantly, its proximity to the Nigeria-Cameroon international border.
According to him, “The Forward Operating Base is expected to facilitate the planning and execution of military operations, as well as the timely and rapid deployment of troops in response to threats within and around this part of the country.
“It would also complement the efforts of other security agencies in the fight against local and cross border crimes; thereby contributing to the maintenance of peace and security in the region and the country at large.”
According to Hon. Offiono, it is alleged that the current Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar is considering de-establishing the FOB Ogoja for reasons still unknown. Such action, according to him, would be considered illegal as no CAS has the power to de-establish an FOB established by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, as only Mr. President, HE Bola Ahmed Tinubu has the power to do so.
The MP also revealed that, among the Seven (7) FOBs in Nigeria, only one (1); FOB Ogoja, is being established in the Southern part of Nigeria, the remaining Six (6) are in the Northern Part of the country.