The Honourable Minister of Defence (HMOD) Major General Bashir Magashi (retired), has commended the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for expanding its force structure to address the emerging security challenges confronting the Nation, while, at the same time, exploiting local content and resources to address equipment maintenance gaps through Research and Development (R&D). The HMOD, who was represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, made this commendation today, 6 November 2020, during the 6th Graduation Ceremony of participants of the Air Force War College (AFWC) Course 6/2020 held at NAF Base Makurdi, where he also commended the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, for not only being the first to establish a single Service War College, but also for successfully graduating the sixth set of participants from the College.
Speaking further, the HMOD, while highlighting that the Country is currently experiencing different forms of internal security challenges, including terrorism, kidnapping, cattle rustling, armed banditry and, more recently, the challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic, noted that the Armed Forces has performed creditably well in mitigating most of the challenges. He asserted that Air Power, being a critical component of the Country’s military instrument of national power, has remained a formidable tool in the preservation of the Nation’s territorial integrity. “Aside the efforts of the NAF towards enhancing internal security in the country, the Service has also attracted tremendous goodwill and credibility to the Nation through the provision of airlift and humanitarian support for the African Union, United Nations and friendly African countries”, he said. According to him, the changing nature of warfare poses new challenges to security forces as sub-conventional threats are on the rise, creating a significantly more complex strategic environment, both at the global and regional levels. “The nature of these challenges makes it necessary to be innovative and explore contemporary ways and means to tackle them. Invariably, doctrinal development, force structure, planning and equipment provisioning for asymmetric warfare have become much more challenging problems than what is obtainable in a conventional war”, he noted.
While congratulating the graduands for completing their training, the HMOD noted that they had shown courage and determination to be able to achieve the feat. General Magashi said he was glad that the NAF had seized the opportunity to create an avenue for operational and strategic level thinking at the AFWC. “As the air arm of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the NAF has been playing significant and crucial roles in the ongoing counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, where air force officers, airmen and airwomen have performed gallantly. I am particularly proud of the innovative steps that the NAF has taken within the last few years, as it strives to revitalize and boost its capacity to fulfill its mandate to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity”, he said. The HMOD also expressed his profound gratitude to the the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, for providing the needed support and encouragement to the Armed Forces of Nigeria in furtherance of Nigeria’s constitutional roles. He also commended the Commandant, faculty and administrative staff of the AFWC for their dedication and tireless efforts towards training of the graduands.
Making some brief remarks during the ceremony, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, who was represented by the State Deputy Governor, Engineer Benson Abonu, appreciated the NAF for its immense contributions towards ensuring security in the State and Nigeria as a whole. He also lauded the bold initiatives taken by the CAS to establish the AFWC as well as many other pacesetting, landmark innovations, which, he said, had enhanced the stature of the Service and improved its operational effectiveness. “You deserve all the accolades for taking the NAF to enviable heights. You have indeed written your name in gold and far exceeded the achievements of your predecessors”, the Governor said. He urged the graduating participants to emulate the outstanding leadership qualities of the CAS by upholding the high standards of professionalism for which the NAF is known in order to make valuable contributions to national development.
In his welcome address, the Commandant AFWC, Air Vice Marshal Dalhat Ladan, stated that the graduands had satisfactorily undergone all the required training, and met the prerequisite for the award of Fellow of the AFWC. According to him, they were therefore ready to contribute their quota, to the effective, efficient and timely employment of Air Power in Nigeria and beyond. While thanking the CAS for his leadership and strategic guidance, the Commandant related how the CAS’ tireless support had resulted in numerous landmark achievements in the College. Among these, he said, were the adjustment of procedures and emplacement of necessary structures that had enabled the College to complete the Course on schedule despite restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, without affecting the quality of instruction. Other areas of support he highlighted included the provision of 7 brand new staff cars to the College for Members of Faculty, installation of a brand new 100 KVA generator at the Drecting Staffs’ Quarters, provision of state-of-the-art interactive Smart Screen boards for use in syndicate rooms as well as the purchase of the Turnitin plagiarism detection software, which, he said, had greatly enhanced research work at the College.
The AFWC has gradually grown to become an established citadel of learning for transiting tactical level officers into operational level commanders to fit seamlessly into the security architecture of the Country. The 17 participants of Course 6 of the College, comprising 14 NAF officers, one Nigerian Army (NA) officer and 2 officers from the Nigerian Navy (NN), had undergone over 6 months of intensive training in the application of Air Power in both joint and independent operations. They were engaged with various assessed classroom, war gaming and simulation exercises, after which they prepared and submitted a major research paper. The AFWC course has adequately equipped the participants with broad knowledge on campaign planning and operational warfare. Although the AFWC curriculum mostly comprises air warfare studies, the College ensures that it exposes participants to an appreciable level of training as well as research in the area of security and defence studies. To reinforce lessons learnt from the African and regional studies module of the Course, participants of AFWC Course 6 visited Cameroun and Niger Republics on study tour.
Highlights of the ceremony included the conferment of fellowship and presentation of AFWC certificates to the graduating participants. Prizes were also given to participants who distinguished themselves on the Course. In this regard, Wing Commander Kehinde Akinyosade won the Best all Round Award for emerging first in order of merit and also won the Award for the Best Individual Research Paper. Commander (NN) Abubakar Giginya bagged the CAS’ Best Sister Services Participant’s Award as well as the Best Cooperating Participant’s Award, while Wing Commander Hussaini Ajibogwu won the Best in Air Power Award.
Other dignitaries at the event included the representatives of the Chiefs of Army and Naval Staff, members of the Benue State Executive Council as well as several senior military officers, both serving and retired.