By Joy Odor
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has affirmed that it flowned about 3, 700 missions in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North East and operations against armed bandits in the North West from January 2021.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao gave the affirmation when he appeared before the members of the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Air Force for the 2022 Budget Defence on Tuesday in Abuja.
The CAS in his defense, noted that NAF has flown about 7,000 hours in over 4’600 sorties, saying to effectively man it’s growing aircraft fleet, NAF has trained and winged 35 pilots within the year while enhancing the training of aircraft engineers and technicians to achieve an average serviceable status of 85% across it’s fleet.
He said in pursuing its mandate, NAF inducted 16 newly-acquired aircraft into its fleet through the support of the Federal Government and the National Assembly.
According to him, Between 2021 to date, a total of 2,155 personnel have undergone both foreign and local training, 390 are undergoing training in different countries across the world, while 3, 523 personnel are undergoing local training in various military institutions and other para-military institutions
Air Marshal Amao was of the opinion that in line with the leading key driver of his vision, NAF has deployed doctrinal documents in all areas of core competences of the Service to ensure operational effectiveness and efficient as well as conformity to global best practices with regards to respect for human rights and in strict compliance with the International Humanitarian Laws and the Laws of Armed Conflict.
He stressed that NAF has also embarked on various projects that have so far, had significant impact on personnel across all NAF units from 2020-2021 which includes construction and furnishing of residential accommodation, continuous upgrade and rehabilitation of existing barracks accommodation, construction and furnishing of offices, kitting of personnel and improved medical services.
“To support various operations, we have constructed 9 helipads in strategic locations across the North East, North West, and North Central and within the next few weeks or months, more critical airfield facilitates would be provided to aid deployment of troops and materials across various theater of operations.
“NAF has recently launched the Telemedicine Service to enhance access to qualitative healthcare services for personnel, their families and host communities as to enhance the capability and proficiency of NAF medical services, reduced medical tourism and thus, saving much needed Foreign exchange.
“One of the responsibilities of the NAF is providing aid to civil authorities in support of the government, the NAF airlifted materials and staff of government agencies such as the National Centre for Disease Control during the lockdown occasioned by the COVID 19 pandemic.
“NAF also is periodically involved in the airlift of officials of the National Emergency Management Agency.
“It is pertinent to state that NAF has been actively involved in the airlift of INEC staff and also contributed over 400 troops to provide security before, during and after the recently concluded Anambra elections.
“In winning the hearts and minds of the citizens, especially our host communities, the NAF has been conducting humanitarian and welfare programmes across the nation” CAS noted.
Air Marshal Amao maintained that the constitutional role of appropriation fund and oversight function of the National Assembly, its Committee on Air Force have contributed to the succesese NAF recorded over the years.
The CAS opined that NAF remain relentless in it’s effort to achieve it’s constitutional mandate of defending the nation’s airspace both internally and externally while fulfilling other national defence objectives and security imperative through the application of air power.
“It is important to state that these achievements would not be possible without the assistance of the National Assembly through funds appropriated to the NAF as well as the support of the Federal Government” he said.
The Chairmen of the Committee commended the successes recorded by the military against insurgency activitiies in the country and assured that adequate provisions would be made in support of the Services as the insurgents were becoming daring.
Speaking the Senator representing Kebbi South and Chairman Senate Committee on Air Force, Senator Ibn Bala Na’ Allah tasked the military to redouble its efforts in surmounting insurgency and banditry.
Senator Na’Allah assured Air Marshall Alao that the National Assembly is determined to complement the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to give adequate funds to the military to ensure the security of lives and property which he described as the most fundamental responsibility of government.
He said:” The Air Force and by extension, the military generally, deserved commendation from Nigerians as far as the war against insurgency and banditry are concerned but Nigerians want these enemies of the Nation to be completely defeated as soon as possible.
“For us on this Committee and in the National Assembly, required Appropriations in terms of procurement of weapons, armaments and enhancement of the welfare of officers and men in the military, shall be made since the essence of governance itself is security and welfare of the citizenry.”
Both Budget defence of the Upper and Power Chambers was later done behind the closed doors for security reasons.