By Lazarus Zakaa, Abuja.
The newly appointed Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Oladayo Amao, has assured Nigerians that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), will provide adequate security to law-abiding citizens of the Country.
The CAS stated this no, 29 January 2021, during a brief, but colourful handing and taking over ceremony held at Headquarters NAF (HQ NAF), Abuja.
AVM Amao, who was appointed as the 21st CAS on 26 January 2021, noted that the NAF would sustainably and effectively employ Air Power in the protection of Nigeria’s people and interests, against all enemies of the State.
Speaking further, AVM Amao, disclosed that the NAF had recorded tremendous successes in the past few years, especially in enhancing the Service’s operational efficiency and the welfare of its personnel.
“I assure the out-going CAS that we would work hard to maintain his records while hoping to attain greater heights”, the CAS said.
AVM Amao stated that his appointment was a challenge and call to national duty, especially at this crucial stage in Nigeria’s development, which he had accepted with utmost humility.
He further noted that, though bedeviled by various forms of insecurity in the country, ranging from the Boko Haram insurgency/terrorism in the North East to the criminal activities of pipeline vandals, crude oil thieves, sea robbers and militants in the South, the Nation was also facing increasing threats from kidnappers, cattle rustlers and militarised herdsmen.
He restated the NAF’s resolve to bring such threats to an end in order to ensure that the Nation is safe and economically attractive.
He said the NAF will continue to do its best possible by leveraging credible partnerships, focusing on enhancing professionalism for high performance as well as motivational initiatives to create an enabling environment for its operations and personnel to thrive.
He therefore charged all officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF to give their best by exhibiting unparalleled professionalism, patriotism and ingenuity to ensure the security of the Country.
The CAS thanked the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (C-in-C), President Muhammadu Buhari, for the honour and rare privilege offered to him to serve the Country in this capacity.
He therefore pledged his unalloyed loyalty and that of the NAF to the Nigerian Government and people.
The new CAS also appreciated members of the Ninth National Assembly for the support given to his predecessor.
“I recognise the importance of the National Assembly’s support to the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations towards meeting the daunting tasks ahead.
Thus, I solicit for your continued support as we work together for our common goals”, he added.
AVM Oladayo Amao also appreciated officers, airmen and airwomen of the Service for the support given to his predecessor without which, he noted, many of the successes recorded would not have been possible.
He implored them to extend the same support to his Administration as it opens a new chapter in the NAF’s history.
“It is my fervent belief that together we shall lift the NAF to even greater heights in the service of our fatherland”, he said.
AVM Oladayo, while congratulating his predecessor, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on the momentous achievements recorded during his tenure, especially in steering the NAF through the difficult fight against insurgency, described the outgoing CAS as one of the finest gentlemen ever as well as an astute leader and achiever par-excellence.
The new CAS ended his remarks by again pledging the unflinching loyalty of all NAF personnel to the C-in-C, whilst further restating that the Service remains “Willing, Able, Ready”, to meet the demands of Nigeria’s national defence and security imperatives.
Earlier in his remarks, the former CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, noted that at the outset of his five years, six months and thirteen days in Office, his vision was to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force which was clearly defined through capacity building initiatives to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness in the employment of Air Power to address the security challenges facing the country.
He expressed satisfaction that he had not only restructured the Service substantially, with the expansion of its structure and recruitment of about 10,000 additional personnel, but that the Service had also embarked on massive air operations in different parts of the Country; especially in the North East, North Central and the North West.
Air Marshal Abubakar disclosed that in the North East alone, the NAF flew over 37,000 hours of air operations. Speaking on manpower development, he noted that due to the critical personnel requirements for the effective projection of Air Power, about 133 pilots had been trained and winged under his watch.
This, he said, represented “about 49 per cent of the total active pilots conducting air operations to defend Nigeria today”.
Air Marshal Abubakar also disclosed that, while in office, he embarked on an elaborate effort to bridge the gap between force projection and force protection.
This had been premised on the fact that Air Power cannot be effectively projected when there are no proper means to protect the bases, air assets and air crew.
In the area of Research and Development, he disclosed that the NAF, under his leadership, entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with 15 Nigerian universities, which have continued to contribute significantly to addressing some of the aircraft maintenance challenges facing the Service.
He also noted that, while building the human resource base of the NAF, concerted efforts were also made to significantly address personnel welfare issues with the provision of new, as well as upgrade of existing, accommodation, medical and educational facilities in NAF units across the Country.
While expressing confidence in the abilities of AVM Amao, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the new CAS had played very crucial roles in ensuring that the NAF attained its present status. According to him, “he was here as Director of Operations and later as Chief of Training and Operations.
He also served as Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command and as Chief of Policy and Plans here at HQ NAF before he moved to the Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Oshodi as Commandant.
I am very confident, that you have all it takes to move the Air Force to a much higher level than you met it.
My prayers are with you and my prayers are with all the officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF.” Air Marshal Abubakar further thanked the C-in-C, President Muhammadu Buhari, for giving him the opportunity to add value to what he inherited from his predecessor in 2015.
He also expressed his gratitude to members of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate and House Committees on the Air Force, as well as officers, airmen and airwomen of the Service who, he said, stood by him to ensure that the NAF moves to a much higher level.
Air Marshal Abubakar also thanked members of his family, especially his aged mother, for their support, remarking that he was leaving the NAF ‘a fulfilled man’.
As customary, the colourful ceremony featured Inspection of the Quarter Guard by the incoming and outgoing CAS on arrival at HQ NAF Complex as well as the laying of wreath by the new CAS at the HQ NAF Memorial Arcade. Other highlights of the event included the signing of the handing/taking over notes and the handing/taking over of NAF colours.
The event was climaxed with the Changing of the Guard ceremony and lowering/hoisting of NAF flag in front of the HQ NAF Complex, which symbolized the end of one era and the beginning of another.
In attendance at the event were the HQ NAF Branch Chiefs and other Senior NAF Officers.