For the second successive year, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has won the prestigious International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Golden World Award (GWA) for Excellence in Crisis Communication Management. In the same vein, the NAF is also among the major winners of the 2020 African Public Relations Association (APRA) Public Sector/Government Category Awards, which recognize Superior Achievement in Branding Reputation and Engagement (SABRE). The 2 awards were as a result of NAF’s campaign through the documentary, “Women of War”, which highlights the NAF's ongoing initiatives to empower women in roles hitherto considered to be beyond them due to certain cultural misconceptions.
The 2020 GWA, which was announced by the Member Services Manager of IPRA, Janice Hill in a message to the Image Merchants, Promotion Limited, which spearheaded the campaigns, stated that the selection of finalists and winners was done online this year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The President of IPRA and Chairman of the Jury, Swetlana Stavreva, stated that the entries were evaluated by multiple judges to ensure balanced assessment. According to her, “we had expected the competition this year to be tough as budgets were cut and people worked from home. So we were proud to see the PR industry fight back determined to tell the world about its best campaigns”, she said. The jury for the selection of the 2020 GWA winners comprised judges from various countries worldwide, including Austria, Bulgaria, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Philippines, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
On his part, the President of APRA, Mr Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, while speaking on the 2020 SABRE Awards, stated that the annual award ceremony, which would have coincided with the Annual Conference earlier scheduled to hold from 11 -15 May 2020 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. A virtual ceremony was eventually held on 10 Sep 20, before the Awards were dispatched to the various winners.
Within the past 5 years, the current NAF Administration under the leadership of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, in line with its focus on promoting and inculcating the core values of ‘Integrity’, ‘Excellence’ and ‘Service Delivery’, has placed high premium on equal opportunities for both male and female personnel to realize their potentials. The enabling environment created as a result of this policy led to a surge in the involvement of female personnel in areas that were hitherto the preserve of men. Five female pilots have been winged within the period, bringing the total number of female pilots in the NAF to 7. Sadly, the NAF lost one of these female pilots, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, to a road traffic accident earlier in the year. However, 14 other female officers are currently undergoing training both within and outside the Country to become NAF pilots. Similarly, many other female officers and airwomen are excelling in their various fields of specialization including Regiment and Special Forces, Aircraft/Armament Engineers and Technicians as well as Air Traffic Controllers, amongst others. The NAF’s objective in this regard is to maximize all of the potentials of Nigeria’s vast human resource pool, male and female, to ensure the effective, efficient and timely employment of Air Power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
It would be recalled that the NAF in September 2019 bagged the IPRA Award for Crisis Communication Management in recognition of the NAF’s management of communication in the aftermath of the attack on Metele in the Northeast of Nigeria. Also, the NAF in 2019 received a ‘Certificate of Excellence’ from the Holmes Report/APRA SABRE Awards Africa for its crisis communication campaign on the counter insurgency operations in the Northeast.