By Efe Onodjae
The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, yesterday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria, ISPON, with a view to enhancing airspace safety standards and improving the capacity of personnel in the fight against Terrorism and other forms of security challenges in Nigeria.
Minister of Defence, Maj. General Bashir Magashi, (rtd) made this known at the 2022 NAF safety seminar held at the Officers Mess , Sam Ethnan Base Ikeja, Lagos, with the theme ‘ Enhancing Safety in the NAF in Conflict Situations’.
Represented by Mallam Dahiru Muhammed, the Minister who described the theme as appropriate in the face of contemporary security challenges in the country, noted that the peculiarities of air operations placed an additional burden on the Nigerian Air Force to take the lead in safety matters at the three levels of warfare: the strategic, operational and tactical levels.
He said, “Military aviation safety is of great concern to us at the Ministry of Defence, particularly because aviation accidents such as air crashes, could erode the Ministry’s overall warfighting capabilities in many tangible and intangible ways.
“Apart from the loss of expensive platforms in air crashes, the accompanying irreplaceable loss of well-trained and highly skilled personnel often have adverse effects on the general morale of the Services and the nation at large.
“During minor incidents or accidents, injury to personnel and aircraft often lead to the loss of valuable man-hours, while affected personnel or aircraft are grounded during the period of accident investigation or even recovery from injuries and aircraft repairs. This is not to mention the financial and economic implications of such repairs or outright replacement of the affected aircraft or equipment”.
Emphasising on the importance of safety in the successful accomplishment of the NAF’s constitutional mandate and the armed in general, he therefore, urged participants to avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the Seminar to examine current Safety Management Systems in the Nigerian Air Force, with a view to aligning themselves with best international practices.
While appreciating the NAF under the watch of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao for the air onslaught on insurgents and bandits enclaves , the Minister, expressed optimism that the seminar would significantly contribute to the improvement of the well-being and capacity of personnel in their fight against terrorism, insurgency, banditry, and other security challenges bedevilling the country.
On his part, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao, explained that the seminar was aimed at deliberating on issues bothering on safety ,with the aim of improving personnel performance and improved operations .
According to him, “Failure to strictly follow established standard safety procedures or to review and operate them regularly, especially after an incident, can result in avoidable tragedy. This re-emphasises the need for our pilots and grand crew to take extra safety precautions and measures during air and ground operations. The theme of the seminar aptly captures the operational context within which we employ our safety management system,” he said.
The CAS stated that the NAF had succeeded in denying insurgents freedom to act , as was obtained, with the use of empowered capabilities.
“This is made possible by the sustained intense rate of effort of our capable staff, who work day and night to ensure optimum aircraft accessibility and availability for conduct of operations.
“There is, however, a direct correlation between safety and operational efficiency which makes it imperative for us to give it all the attention it deserves. It is in realisation of this that the NAF has made safety central to its operational and non-operational activities,” Amao said.
Also, President of the ISPON, Kaizer Ebi, who noted that the MOU with the Nigerian Airforce was not the first the organisation has had with government agency , revealed that the two -day seminar would witness an investiture ceremony for NAF safety officers , to qualify them as members of ISPON.