By Tony Adibe
President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on the need to collaborate and partner with technological-innovative institutions, industries, and individuals in order to improve on its various platforms.
President Buhari, represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, gave the charge at the ceremonial parade and aerial display marking the 59th Anniversary Celebration of NAF, otherwise known as NAF Day 2023 in Enugu on Saturday.
The event was attended by Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao and representative of Chief of Navy Staff.
Various chiefs in special arms of the Nigerian military were also present as well as retired military chiefs of the Army and Navy; all top senior air force officers serving and retired among others.
Buhari advised NAF to increase its local capacity building through practical and purposeful collaboration and partnership with technological-innovative institutions, industries and individuals in order to improve on its platforms to counter contemporary and emerging security challenges.
The NAF should strive to expand its collaboration beyond the military, “by this I mean collaboration with the academia, industries, with civilian technologists and independent innovators and creators and think-tanks,” according to him.
He said: “However, I have had discussion with the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, and he told me that collaborations with our universities and research institutions are already ongoing, and I urge us to expand on it.
“There is a great amount of potential waiting to be unleashed from this collaboration and partnership.”
Buhari said that within the last four years running, “this administration has committed substantial national resources to enhance the overall capabilities of the Armed Forces especially the NAF”.
He said, “The huge investments in expanding the capacity of the Nigerian Air Force have led to the turning of the tide against insecurity and activities of other violent non-state actors in our nation all this while.
“We must also commend the renewed focus on research and innovation and self-reliance of the present Chief of Air Staff; which is far-sighted and it builds on the tradition the air force had established over the years of this administration.”
Buhari said that NAF had proved its mettle since the years of its establishment both local and international, adding: “I am highly impressed by the parade and aerial displays put up by the Nigerian Air Force in this event”.
“Indeed, our air force is willing and able at any time to deliver on its mandates and capability, and it can and always stand shoulder to shoulder with any other advanced air forces in any country of the World,” he said.
Buhari, who enumerated various fighting aircrafts and other platforms acquired for NAF in his administration, appreciated NAF for locally and ingenious resuscitating some aircrafts in its fighting fleets.
The president also inducted some new platforms of NAF, which included: DA-62 (Special Mission Aircraft) and Wing Loong II (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).