The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has charged newly graduated personnel of various courses at Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Kaduna to be innovative and bring the skills acquired during their training to bear in the discharge of their technical duties in support of air operations. The CAS stated this today, 26 July 2019, at the graduation ceremony of 513 personnel of Sundry Military Courses at AFIT. Considering the increasing size, scope of operations and sophistication in the application of technology by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), the CAS, stated that the knowledge gained by the graduands in the past months would be put to the test. “We must see evidence of your training in the discharge of your Service duties and indeed in national development”, Air Marshal Abubakar said.

The CAS, who is the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Institution and the Guest of Honour at the event, emphasized that the development of skilled technical manpower for effective and efficient maintenance of NAF platforms has been the core responsibility of AFIT. Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the successful execution of the counterinsurgency operations in the North East and other military operations across the country has remained the focus of his administration since 2015. Therefore, to achieve the successes needed for air operations, the CAS said he adopted capacity building initiatives as the fulcrum of his vision to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force that responds efficiently, effectively and in a timely manner to national security challenges. The vision, he said, has been largely driven by huge investments in foreign and local trainings to position NAF personnel for the professional discharge of military duties. He noted, for instance, that 27 student pilots were currently undergoing training in different parts of the world to further boost the number of pilots available for the conduct of air operations.

While expressing his delight at the continuous improvements in the knowledge base of NAF personnel, the CAS disclosed that prior to the commencement of the 2018/2019 course, there was a backlog of personnel due for promotion, but were hindered by the new Terms and Conditions of Service which stipulates that certain courses must be completed before personnel are considered for promotion. To ensure that no one is denied promotion on account of a fault in the system, the CAS said he had directed AFIT to increase its number of trainees from 250 to 500. The decision, he said, had a strain on the finances of the NAF, however, the training of personnel was non-negotiable. He promised to continue to train personnel until a large number of backlog due for training was cleared.

The CAS thanked the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his unfailing support to the NAF and belief in the preparedness of the Service to help quell the insurgency in the North East and other restive areas in the country. He noted that the President has not relented in his desire to secure the borders and communities and restore normalcy to the troubled zones. The CAS therefore seized the opportunity to reiterate the loyalty, mission readiness and commitment of the NAF to rapidly deploy men and materials to curtail banditry as well as other forms of criminality across Nigeria. Air Marshal Abubakar equally acknowledged the invaluable support and contributions of all staff, both military and civilian, who have shown uncommon commitment to furthering the lofty ideals of AFIT. The CAS also thanked former Commandants of the Institute and other retired military officers who still contribute to the welfare of AFIT through ideas, books and journals.

Delivering his welcome address, the Commandant AFIT, Air Vice Marshal Cletus Udeagulu, while appreciating the support the Institute has enjoyed in the last 4 years under the current NAF administration, reeled out the achievements of the Institution. These included the upgrade to a degree awarding University, approval of 28 undergraduate and postgraduate courses, increment in Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) 2019 admission quota and establishment of Centre for Technical and Vocation Training which handles all military courses at basic, intermediate and advanced levels. The Commandant, who traced the history of the Institution from its humble beginning to its current enviable status, also stated that the total number of trainees and graduates from AFIT since 2015 to date stood at 2,266. According to him, the CAS has refused to compromise on qualitative training in spite of high cost. “These trainings were carried out at very enormous costs to the NAF. Despite the high cost, the CAS refuses to compromise on education; hence, the consistent support financially and materially to AFIT in order to maintain the high standard of the military courses”, he said. He disclosed that, with the support of the CAS, the Institute had gone back to its tradition of issuing all students of military technical courses with overalls and appropriate toolboxes, which was last done over 3 decades ago. He therefore urged the graduating students to make their alma matter proud by reflecting its new orientation, which is geared towards practical application of technical skills for enhanced service delivery.

Highlights of the graduation ceremony were the conferment of certificates on the graduating students as well as the presentation of awards to the best graduating students in each of the 17 Sundry Courses. However, Flying Officer Elodor Bello and Lance Corporal Kenneth Ejiofor clinched the CAS’ Award for obtaining the highest overall scores among officers and airmen/airwomen, respectively, on the sundry courses. Apart from the awards, the 2 Award Winners were also presented with brand new laptop computers. The CAS also directed that they be included among the NAF Team to attend the 2019 MAKS International Air Show of the Russian Federation scheduled to hold at the end of August.

Air Commodore
Director of Public Relations and Information