By: Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja
The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), has commended the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for its readiness to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to airlift its staff and logistics before, during and after the 2023 general elections.
The Defence Minister gave the commendation during the roll-out ceremony of C-130 Hercules aircraft (NAF918), held on Wednesday 25 January 2023 at the 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot, NAF, Ikeja, Lagos.
Gen Magashi who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, of the Ministry of Defence, Dr Ibrahim Abubakar Kana, said he was pleased to recognize NAF’s preparations towards the forthcoming elections.
He said this was exemplified by the timely completion of the in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) of the NAF C-130H aircraft to boost its airlift capacity to support INEC.
The Minister congratulated the NAF for the technical breakthrough, noting that it further demonstrates the Service’s quest for capacity development and self-reliance in equipment maintenance.
Magashi added that the achievement is an indication that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) has enormous potential for technical capacity development at in-country ventures.
Extolling the NAF’s immense contributions in combating terrorism, insurgency and other forms of security threats in the country as well as its non-kinetic campaigns in various theatres of operation, the minister reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to the welfare and capacity development of the AFN for them to effectively perform their constitutional roles.
He further disclosed that Government has placed orders for the acquisition of airlift, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft as well as ground attack, advanced jet training and combat multi-role helicopters for the NAF.
He said these additional platforms, he said would further boost the Service’s operational capabilities even as he urged NAF personnel to remain loyal and committed as well as ensure safe operations and maintenance of the Service platforms.
In his remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao stated that the roll-out ceremony of the C-130H aircraft resonates with his vision to enhance and sustain NAF critical airpower capabilities required for joint force employment in pursuit of national security imperatives.
According to him, “the platform could not have been reactivated at a better time, as the NAF is now better positioned to support INEC to airlift electoral staff and logistics in the forthcoming general elections. It is on this note that we welcome NAF 918 back to operational readiness to achieve its logistics assignment,” the CAS stressed.
He further remarked that in-country periodic maintenance has improved NAF aircraft serviceability as well as significantly reduced the maintenance cost of carrying out such maintenance overseas while conserving foreign exchange for the country.
Air Marshal Amao averred that the NAF aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians involved in the PDM project are more exposed to the requisite expertise and high-quality maintenance practices.
He revealed that the aircraft have been test-flown by NAF pilots who confirmed that the engines, instruments and avionics parameters are within standard safety limits.
He maintained that the NAF C-130 fleet has since fulfilled troops and logistics airlift roles in several combat and humanitarian operations within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
He assured that deliberate efforts are being made to improve aircraft serviceability across all the aircraft fleets in the NAF, adding that the welfare and safety training of pilots, engineers and technicians is receiving attention in order to ensure that the aircraft is operated optimally.
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