The Nigerian Airforce on Monday Winged 14 new Air Force Pilots made up of 12 Nigerians and two Liberians with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar warning that despite the successes achieved in degrading Boko Haram, the NAF was not resting on its oars in the development of capacity for its officers and men.
“We are not resting on our oars but constantly building the required capacity to optimally project air power in these theatres of operation in fulfillment of our national security imperatives”, the CAS said.
Emphasizing that the winging of the new pilots is proof of the Air Force’s effort to make Nigeria a safer place, Abubakar, pointed out that the twenty first century is characterized by plethora of armed conflicts such as terrorism and militancy which springs from the struggle for political power among ethnic nationalities.
“In the Air Force’s endeavor to secure Nigeria from these conflicts, the Nigerian Air Force has embarked on human capacity development to reposition the Nigerian Air Force to adequately deal with these challenges.
“The winging ceremony we are about to witness today is a clear testimony to our commitment.”
The CAS stated that other pilots of the Nigerian Air Force who are undertaking missions in the face of real danger are testimonies to the quality of training they have received from the Nigerian Air Force.
He noted that despite the successes the Air Force has recorded in the past, the Air Force remains aware of the need to train and retain personnel, including pilots to deal with all challenges.
The Air Chief stated that through the Nigerian Air Force drive for human capacity development through robust training was not negotiable, he was pleased that 12 more Nigerian Air Force pilots along with 2 of their Liberian counterparts are being winged having concluded their training in Kaduna and Ilorin.
He further said there are 4 Nigerian Air Force student pilots undergoing training with the United States Air Force and of these students, is the first potential female fighter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force.
There are also 64 student pilots in various stages of flying training in Nigerian Air Force Flying training schools that are all expected to graduate by the end of the year.
He appreciated the government of Liberia for the confidence they displayed in the Nigerian Air Force by allowing the Air Force train their first set of pilots adding that it is another milestone aimed at strengthening the relations between both nations.
To the 14 young pilots who were winged, the CAS charged them to be prepared for the tasks ahead saying they must not become complacent because flying operations involve discipline, dedication and a lot of hard work.
He instructed them to remember that the hopes of millions are resting on their shoulders.
He urged them to treat innocent citizens with respect and dignity but also be decisive in dealing with those that are out to undermine the security of our people and our nation.
Minister of Defence, Alhaji Mansur Alli who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Mrs. Nuratu Batagarawa in his address congratulated the Nigerian and Liberian officers for the successful completion of their training.
The minister also commended the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall SB Abubakar on his promotion of professionalism and patriotism in the Nigerian Air Force.
He used the opportunity to assure Nigerians that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari remains resolute in his commitment to protect the lives and properties of the citizens and attain sustainable peace in Nigeria.
Furthermore he said the government will continue to provide necessary support and encouragement to the Armed Forces and other security agents.
The occasion was attended by other guests including Minister National Defence, Republic of Liberia Major General Dee Zankahn Junior (rtd), the representative of African Union Academy, South Africa, the Director, International Aviation College, Ilorin and other guests.