The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has reiterated its commitment towards finding home-grown solutions to its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related challenges in prosecuting the ongoing fight against insurgency by partnering with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). This was revealed by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday, 2 November 2018, while on a courtesy visit to the Director General/Chief Executive Officer (DG/CEO) of NITDA, Dr Ali Ibrahim Pantami, in Abuja.
In his remarks, the CAS, who was accompanied on the visit by the Chiefs of Standards and Evaluation and Communication Information Systems, Headquarters (HQ) NAF as well as other senior officers from HQ NAF, stated that the current security challenges facing the nation could not be effectively tackled without adequate employment of air power. He observed that this was the reason for the deployment of air assets in virtually all areas where security challenges existed in the country. This, he said, has helped, in no small measure, in degrading the insurgents in the Northeast as well as routing banditry in the Northwest and containing other internal security threats in other parts of the country. The CAS noted, however, that the effective and efficient employment of air power in modern warfare was, in turn, highly dependent on the effective use of ICT. He said ICT was therefore critical to NAF operations.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar noted, for instance, that the NAF depends on ICT infrastructure for real-time down-streaming of information from NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms to ground stations in NAF Bases. Similarly, the Base Defence systems at critical NAF Bases in Port Harcourt, Maiduguri and Yola are also ICT based. He said this had made it imperative for the NAF to develop needed human capacities and employ the relevant technologies that would help sustain the use of air power in the various theatres of operation. The CAS noted that, because of this, the NAF has been building needed capacity of personnel in relevant ICT fields, with some of its personnel recently trained in the United States America and India. He however pointed out that the Service was seeking for other training opportunities within the shores of Nigeria and therefore solicited the support of NITDA in this regard. The CAS also remarked that the NAF would need the assistance of NITDA in building upon some of its ICT related Research and Development (R&D) efforts.
In his response, the DG NITDA, Dr Ibrahim Pantami, expressed delight to receive the CAS in his office and commended the Service for the important role it has been playing in securing the territorial integrity of the country. He noted that ICT was a critical enabler in virtually all fields of endeavour whether healthcare, education or the military. He agreed with the fact that it would be virtually impossible to successfully secure a country in this modern era without adequate employment of ICT. He noted that NITDA was statutorily responsible for the development and regulation of all matters relating to Information Technology in Nigeria and was well positioned to provide necessary support to organizations and individuals to enhance ICT employment. He said the Agency had assisted a number of Nigerians to record significant breakthroughs in software development, block chain technology, artificial intelligence and robotics, among others. He said the Agency was more than ready to partner with the NAF in ICT employment for enhanced operational effectiveness. He therefore advocated the establishment of a joint committee comprising members from the NAF and NITDA to work out the specific areas of collaboration. Some of the Directors of the Agency had earlier spoken on how NITDA’s partnership with the NAF was in consonance with one of the pillars of the National ICT Policy, which focuses on enhancing national security. They also pointed out that the partnership would enable the Agency further push forward its agenda in the areas of ICT adaptation, local content development and human capacity development.
The NAF has, in the past 3 years, established strategic partnerships with several relevant government agencies and institutions aimed at enhancing NAF’s R&D efforts as well as improving overall effectiveness and efficiency. The most recent of these partnerships was solidified during the CAS’ visit to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on 20 September 2018.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force