By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA – THE Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has decried what he described as the seeming lack of willingness from government agencies to integrate talents and capabilities from not only the nation’s universities but also private sector, saying the development was the reason they were not self reliant in the maintenance of tools and equipment at their disposal.
The Air Force chief observed that “there exists an abundance of talents and capabilities in Nigerian Universities and the private sector but the missing link has always been the seeming lack of willingness by government agencies to integrate those talents and capabilities.”
Abubakar, according to a statement, Thursday morning, by the Director of Public Relations and Information of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, spoke Wednesday, in Abuja, while leading the Nigerian Air Force on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Nigeria Machine Tools, NMT, Osogbo, as part of the efforts of its current leadership to reinforce the culture of self-reliance.
He reiterated the commitment of the Service to continually partner with Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs so as to promote self-reliance in the Air Force.
According to him, the unrelenting efforts to reposition the service into a more professional fighting force would be boosted by harnessing all locally available abilities and resources.
“The NAF was able to identify this challenge some years back and had consequently partnered many indigenous companies as well as signed MOUs with 15 Nigerian universities.
“These have resulted in huge gains for the Service, as it has enhanced the serviceability status of NAF platforms”, he said.
Air Marshal Abubakar further explained that some of the gains of partnership with the University of Maiduguri, for example, resulted in the reactivation of NAF Machine Workshops in Lagos and Markurdi, which had been abandoned for over 25 years.
He added that the partnership had also led to the design and development of an Anti-Skid test bench for the Alpha Jet Aircraft, which is critical to the ongoing operations in the Northeast.
Besides, similar partnerships with other local entities had resulted in the receipt of patent rights by the NAF for the production of hydraulic diaphragm for the Mi-35 helicopter gunship as well as for the production of Unmanned Ground Vehicles.
The statement said:”The signing of the MoU is also aimed at furthering NAF’s strategic partnerships with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) towards enhancing research and development.”
Accordingly, some of the areas of partnership identified in the MoU include training, machining, fabrication, casting as well as research and development. The MoU also covers the development and provision of Personal, Vehicular and Aircraft Protective Equipment.
At the signing ceremony, which took place at the Headquarters NAF, Abuja, the Managing Director of NMT, Mr Nobert Chukwumah, expressed delight over the opportunity given to the Company to partner with the NAF.
Mr Chukwuma explained that the signing of the MoU would further strengthen the existing cooperation between the NAF and the private sector, which NMT is a part of, with a view to leveraging on the capabilities of both parties for the benefit of the country and the citizenry.
He added that the Company possesses the required capability and employs modern equipment in carrying out all its functions, all of which had earned the organization international recognition.
Mr Chukwumah equally lauded the drive of the NAF for self reliance and indicated that NMT was happy to become part of the NAF’s increasing success story.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal Kingsley Lar, announced that the idea of the MoU was initiated after a team of visiting NAF officers discovered the capabilities and immense potentials of NMT.
He also noted that strategic partnerships with MDAs is one of the key drivers of the CAS Vision of repositioning the NAF into a highly professional force capable of adequately employing air power to meet Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
It is worthy of note that similar partnerships by the NAF with academic institutions and private institutions in Nigeria have proved significant in the efforts at securing the nation.
The CAS has therefore directed appropriate senior NAF officers to immediately initiate steps at taking full advantage of the newly signed MoU with NMT.