The 2018 Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Day Celebration came to a close yesterday, 5 May 2018, at the NAF Base Kaduna, with a colourful ceremonial parade and aerial display of some of the platforms in the NAF inventory. Some of the aircraft that took part in the display include the Alpha Jet, L-39ZA, F-7Ni, Super Mushshak, King Air 350i and the Diamond 42 MPP. The others were the Mi-35M Helicopter, Super Puma Helicopter, Bell 412 Helicopter as well as the recently inducted indigenous Tsaigumi Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). During the ceremonial parade that preceded the aerial display, the regimental colours of the erstwhile Training Command (TC) was retired while the newly established Air Training Command (ATC) and Ground Training Command (GTC) were presented with their regimental colours. Regimental colours serve as the rallying point of a unit in battle and it is significant because its loss to the enemy is seen as a significant dishonour. Furthermore, the 2 recently acquired Mi-35M Helicopter gunships were unveiled by the Special Guest of Honour (SGOH), President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Honourable Minister of Defence (HMOD), Mansur Dan Ali.
In his remarks, the SGOH commended the efforts of the current NAF leadership for performing its assignments wonderfully and noted that the NAF had, in recent times, recorded several unprecedented milestones. The President expressed his delight at having to come to the NAF Base Kaduna to celebrate the NAF at 54. He pointed out that the NAF had evolved over the years since its establishment by an Act of Parliament in April 1964 while recalling that the NAF played a vital role in the successful prosecution of the Nigerian Civil war of 1967. “As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in the tragic Nigerian Civil War and I know the role the young NAF played in the successful prosecution of the war”, President Buhari added. He used the opportunity to appreciate the role of the NAF, in particular, and that of the military, in general, as an enabler of national development, which could never be overemphasized. He went further to commend the gallant men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies, for their tireless efforts towards completely eliminating the scourge of Boko Haram Terrorists and other threats to the nation’s security.
Earlier In his welcome address, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, expressed satisfaction with how the NAF had evolved in the last 54 years. He stated that the NAF had faced a myriad of challenges over the years and had overcome many of them thereby becoming more matured in the process. He added that the NAF had also grown in size and equipment holding thus positioning it to better fulfill its statutory obligation of protecting and defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria by air. The CAS expressed his appreciation to the Federal Government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, for the outstanding growth experienced in the NAF since 2015, in particular. He revealed that 12 hitherto grounded aircraft had been reactivated while the personnel strength of the Service had been increased by 7,500 men and 400 officers, all in less than 3 years. The CAS said that since the beginning of President Buhari’s administration, 2 additional NAF Commands and 2 new Branches had been established. “Besides, several new platforms were acquired and inducted into Service to meet the evolving security challenges faced by the country”, the CAS added. Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the gap between force projection and force protection had also been substantially bridged with the training of about 1000 Special Forces. “These forces have been deployed as part of the intervention force to deal with the Internal Security challenges of the North Central geopolitical zone”, he stated. He further stated that the commitment of Mr President and the current administration to enhancing Nigeria’s security was clearly exemplified by the recent payment for 10 Super Tucano aircraft to be purchased from the United States of America. The CAS also recollected that the NAF recently took delivery of 10 Super Mushshak aircraft from Pakistan in addition to a total of 4 Mi-35M helicopter gunships procured from the Russian Federation.
The high point of yesterday’s celebration was recorded when the various NAF aircraft flew past in various formations with the NAF L-39ZA aircraft returning to depict the Nigerian national colours of green white and green in the sky, with the aid of smoke canisters. In addition, some NAF Special Forces elements were inserted into the venue of the celebration through rappelling from the Super Puma Helicopter while the Mi-35M helicopter gunship provided simulated air cover. Furthermore, some NAF paratroopers jumped from a NAF C-130 Hercules aircraft at over 10,000 feet above sea level and thereafter landed in a drop zone already earmarked at the venue of the celebration. Members of the audience, including several civilians, who had come to felicitate with the NAF, were obviously delighted at the performance of the NAF personnel involved in the various displays. With yesterday’s activities, the 2018 NAF Day Celebration with the theme, ‘Enhancing Nigerian Air Force Operational Capability for Timely Employment of Air Power in Response to Contemporary Security Challenges’, effectively came to an end. The NAF now looks forward to celebrating its 55th Anniversary in 2019.
Air Vice Marshal
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force