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BACKPAGE – An Officer And A Gentleman

From 13th of July, 2015, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar ascended the national stage and went on to stand as the gold standard of public service in Nigeria by serving as the Chief Of The Air Staff Of The Nigerian Air Force. On January 26, 2021, after 5 years, 6 months and 13 days, he successfully added value to his motherland by contributing to the security and development of Nigeria. From the time he stepped onto the national stage, he possessed the rugged independence of a natural leader. And throughout his tenure, being determined on succeeding in the fight to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity and National sovereignty and making the atmosphere more secure for the Nigerian communities was the underlining theme for him.

At the helm of affairs of the Nigerian Airforce, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar did his ultimate best to propel the force to a higher plain in order to secure Nigeria. He navigated the nuances involved in strengthening the force, not haphazardly shortchanging it. He went on to restructure and reposition the Nigerian Air Force into a highly professional and disciplined force. At the end of his tenure as the Chief of Air Staff, when he resigned, he negated the sit-tight syndrome that pervades the political landscape in Nigeria by stepping aside when the ovation was high.

Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar left the stage of his calling to give way for others to come in, to retire, not in death but alive, not forcefully but voluntarily, not when things have fallen apart but when the ovation was high. Since his resignation, Air Marshal Sadique has stood head and shoulders above his peers. Its evident from the accolades he is receiving, even out in the vicious social media streets.

Hardly would one come across negative accounts of his service, despite the criticism of the outgoing service chiefs. The reviews of Vice Marshal Sadique’s service reminds Nigerians that one can choose to lead and serve this beautiful nation either honorably or dishonorably. He chose the former. The lesson learnt from leader is that there is dignity in doing the right thing while in office and quitting. And it is good to do it when the ovation is loudest.

All the people who worked with him while he was in office attest that he was a humble soul who was not carried away by the paraphernalia of his office. As an officer, he was the embodiment of capacity, capability, courage and encouraged the advancement of capacity building initiatives and operations that were necessitated by the insecurity abound in Nigeria. He understood the strategic choices the country must make when our nation is threatened by insecurity and he performed well in responding to this.

In service, he was known to be skilled and tough. His actions exhibited the belief that every Nigerian has a responsibility to make something of the protections, liberties and obligations given by the Constitution. His actions exhibited an understanding of the obligation of leadership. And from his service in the Air Force to his five and a half years in highest office of his profession, he lived and led by his creed every day. His conduct as the Chief of Air Staff should be an inspiration to all of those who aspire to such public service.

During his time as the head of the Air Force, Vice Marshal Sadique never forgot that the work of the Air Force was based on action, precision, growth, transparency, truth and conscience. Those qualities are sorely lacking in those who walk the halls of our nation’s authorities today. The spirit and leadership of men like Vice Marshal Sadique is needed now more than ever.

He is the personification of the Nigerian dream and he did his best to protect it. He has honored our country with the highest form of service and his experience and integrity should be honored by all who respect service of utmost good faith.

His work and what he leaves behind for the Nigerian Air Force is a testament to his success. As Air Vice Marshal, this unique leader launched an initiative, which trained and winged 133 pilots that are responsible for, at least, 49% of all active Nigerian Air Force pilots fighting all over the country in a bid to secure the country. In addition to this, another 21 pilots will join the ranks within the next few weeks.

In focusing on positioning the force in a better place to tackle the security challenges in the country, Vice Marshal Sadique oversaw the acquisition of 15 aircrafts and 8 unmanned combat aerial vehicles. These mediums will surely afford the Nigerian Air Force the manner of air power needed to successfully, proficiently and judiciously launch military operations across Nigeria. In order to consolidate force projection and force protection, he put into place a plan to train Nigerian Air Force Special Forces and force protection elements. He also sought to enhance the Force’s research and development capacity through a partnership with 15 Nigerian universities in order to tackle aircraft maintenance challenges.

As a direct result of Air Marshal Sadique’s performance, the new Chief Of Air Staff will inherit the strongest and the most equipped Air force in the history of Nigeria! In his bid to strengthen the Air force for the war against insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria, Air Marshal Sadique oversaw the procurement 10 Super Mushshaks, 5 Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships, 2 Bell 412 Helicopters, 4 Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopters and 1 Mi-171 E Helicopter. Additionally, expected to arrive to the Air Force are 19 manned Aircraft along 8 Unmanned, Combat Aerial Vehicles, 12 A-29 Super Tucano, 3 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Aircraft, 1 Mi-171E Helicopter, 3 Special Missions Aircraft, 8 UCAVs- including 2 Wingloong 11, 2 CH-3 and 2 CH-4. Before leaving office, Air Marshal Sadique took delivery of 23 new aircraft mainly fighter aircraft, while 18 more aircraft, including the 12 Tucano fighter jets are on the way to be added to the artillery.

Those who have come into contact with the civilian Alhaji Sadique often speak of the remarkable nature of professionalism; optimism, humor, faith, empathy and dignity that he displays in his personal and professional capacity. Alhaji Sadiue is known as a man of faith who believes in the power of prayer and who turns to The Almighty for strength and direction in times of joy and hardship. His faith is a fundamental part of who he is and what he represents. Those who have seen him in action speak about his kindness, brilliance, empathy, prayerfulness, dignity, honor and thoughtfulness. He is a man family man who cares for people and caters for those without. He is a caring father, sibling, husband and son. The way he referred to his mother in his valedictory speech as he was stepping down as the Chief Of Air Staff exposed his thoughtful, affectionate and supportive nature.

Air Marshal Sadique is a good, good man and a persevering and patriotic leader. A man in immutable, relentless pursuit of what mattered most to him as a leader; the elevation of this country and its continued pursuit of the best Nigeria has to offer. A man of great humility, piety and faith.

As a Nigerian who is every day threatened by the insecurity in my nation, one has few redeeming words for those in charge of our security. However, as a spectator of all that has unfolded in the last couple of years, one can separate the wheat from the chaff. And in doing so, one can comfortably vouch for Air Marshal Sadique, for he has truly done his best and leaves office as a resounding success.

In his very own words, as he was handing over to his successor, Air Marshal SB Abubakar said, “As I exit the Nigerian Air Force, I am leaving the service fulfilled because I have substantially achieved what I set out to achieve.” He was right and should be proud of the contribution he has given to Nigeria.

There is a moral foundation, an integrity that has been the heartbeat of Air Marshal Sadique’s national service. And it is this essential goodness that he will long be remembered for. He should hold his head up high and look forward to the fact that history will surely judge him well. The horizon is bright for this man of faith. It will be exciting to see what and where this Nigerian Treasure will give service next. But for now Nigerians can be rest assured that we have just witnessed the magic of one of our very best whom has proved himself to ultimately be… “An Officer and A Gentleman!”

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