By Lazarus Zakaa, Abuja
In a bid to fulfilment of its constitutional role of providing aid to civil authority, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is set to commence airlifting thousands of medical materials and other consumables, procured by the West African Health Organization (WAHO) for distribution to 14 member nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria inclusive, to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
The airlift of the medical supplies is in fulfillment of the promise made by the Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, who is the ECOWAS COVID-19 Response Coordination “Champion”, that Nigeria would provide logistics support to ensure the items are distributed to all countries in the Sub-Region.
The 13 other ECOWAS countries are; Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cape Verde, Niger Republic, Burkina Faso, Mali and the Republic of Benin.
The medical materials, which would be airlifted in 3 phases, include laboratory diagnostic kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), intensive care equipment and miscellaneous medical accessories such as coveralls, masks, face shields, goggles, reagents, viral transport medium, ventilators and oxygen concentrators, amongst others.
Flagging off the airlift of the medical materials at the 307 Executive Airlift Group (307 EAG), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Tuesday, 4 August 2020, the Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, who was represented by the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, stated that President Buhari had risen to the occasion as a true Champion who has demonstrated good leadership, solidarity, friendship and good neighbourliness to the Sub-Region.
He noted that the NAF had remained the backbone of the logistics operations of the PTF’s response in tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic in the country, and therefore commended the pilots and entire crew of the 2 NAF C-130H aircraft that would be handling the airlift/distribution exercise for their dedication and professionalism.
In his remarks, while receiving the consignments for airlift, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) James Gwani, noted that, in line with the NAF’s responsibility of providing military aid to civil authority, the Service considered the airlifting of the items a great privilege and worthy contribution to a noble cause.
He therefore pledged the commitment of the Service to a successful operation.
Also present during the flag-off ceremony were the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada; President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou; Director-General, WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo; Director of Operations, HQ NAF, AVM Ayoola Jolasinmi, along with other dignitaries and Government officials.