59th Anniversary Celebration Of The Nigerian Air Force, NAF
SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 59TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE NIGERIAN AIR FORCE, AT THE NAF BASE IN ENUGU STATE ON THE 6TH OF MAY, 2023
I’m delighted to be in your midst today to celebrate the 59th anniversary of the Nigerian Air Force established in 1964 by an Act of the Nigerian Parliament to preserve Nigeria’s territorial Integrity through the employment and projection of air power.
And I bring you the very warm felicitations of His Excellency, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari who as you know is away out of the country and would have loved to be here himself.
I’m proud to say that the Air Force has in the years since its establishment proved its metal both locally and internationally and I must add that I’m impressed by the displays put up by the officers, air men and air women of the Nigerian Force at this ceremonial event, especially in the march past, the parade and the colourful ariel exhibition.
These displays aptly demonstrate the Nigerian Air Force’s commitment to achieving high standards of operational readiness. Indeed, our Air Force is willing, able and ready.
I’d like to commend the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao CFR, and his team for the commendable leadership that they have shown in providing for the Nigerian Air Force. As the air arm of the Armed Forces, the Nigerian Air Force has shown that despite its challenges in terms of the quality of manpower talents, creativity and capability, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best in the world.
As a country, we are proud that in less than four years, we’ve been able to revitalize our armed forces. And in keeping with his promise as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, he would prioritize the restoration of professionalism in the military to enable all of them effectively discharge their responsibilities, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari ensured that substantial investments have been made in acquiring new platforms and other support equipment for the military and other security agencies as well as reactivating and upgrading existing platforms.
In the last four years, the administration acquired new air platforms for the Nigerian Air Force such as the JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft, the A29 Super Tucano aircraft, the Diamond 62 aircraft and the T129 attack helicopter beach craft and the unmanned aerial systems and we have just commissioned two of those platforms that had been purchased earlier by this administration.
The Air Force has also reactivated several aircrafts and worthy of note that the procurement process for military hardware has been reviewed to remove inefficiency and to introduce transparency. For example, the procurement process for the purchase of the 12 Super Tucano aircraft in 2018 was done through a transparent, first-of-its-kind government-to-government deal with the United States of America.
It is evident that the huge investments in the capacity development of the Nigerian Air Force have helped to turn the tide against terrorists and other violent non-state actors in our nation.
We must also commend the renewed focus on research, innovation and self-reliance by the Chief of Air Staff. This is far-sighted, and it builds on a tradition that the Air Force has established in the years of this administration of research, of doing creative work and trying to strengthen our Air Force in various ways.
It is also an important component of the development of our Military Industrial Complex for Nigeria and the Armed Forces in general. And I’m pleased to note that we’re seeing an Air Force that is increasingly confident about its ability and its capability to innovate and to deploy locally developed technology.
And this is manifesting in various ways from the locally developed operational unmanned aerial vehicle, the Tsaigumi, which the President formally inducted into service in February 2018, to this collaborative work being done at the Air Force Research and Development Center in Kaduna, to produce the first-ever made-in-Nigeria aircraft.
Of course, this must be situated within the general context of a greater emphasis on local capacity building by the Nigerian Armed Forces with developments like the establishment of the Nigeria Army University and the revitalization of our Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria, DICON, serving as testaments to this renewed emphasis.
The Nigerian Air Force should also strive to expand its collaborations outside of the military, and by this, I mean collaborations with Academia, think tanks, civilian technology, hubs and independent innovators and creators.
I’m aware from discussions with the Chief of Air Staff that the collaborations with our university and research institutions are already growing. There’s a great amount of potential waiting to be unleashed from these partnerships.
Once again, I salute the result of our armed forces and the invaluable contributions of other security agencies in fully containing the security challenges in some parts of our nation, especially the contributions of the Nigeria Air Force in addressing the security challenges of armed banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping in the Northwest and in the Northcentral.
Your efforts in conjunction with other security agencies have started to yield positive results well done indeed.
Let us never lose sight of the reason for our existence as the military component of government. It is that the security and well-being of our people is an irreducible apple minimum and the chief responsibility of all legitimate governments.
I, therefore, charge you to continue to work to earn the confidence of the nation and the respect of the international community as you protect lives and property, neutralizing all existing and emerging national security threats.
I like to urge greater cooperation and mutual trust between the various arms of the Armed Forces even while maintaining the healthy Spirit of competition that underpins Innovation and increased efficiency.
Finally, let me on behalf of Mr. President, thank all Nigerians for coming together as a united and determined people irrespective of parochial affiliations to partner with the Armed Forces in the war against terror and insurgency.
We are currently in the stabilization, reconstruction and resettlement phase of the overall effort in the Northeast and will continue to solicit your support and understanding until terrorism and the activities of armed criminals of whatever description are completely eradicated.
I once again congratulate the Chief of the Air Staff and the entire Air Force family on the occasion of the 59th Anniversary of the Nigerian Air Force.
Long live the Nigerian Air Force.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I thank you all for listening.