By Augustine Ehikioya
To be neutral in the fast approaching general elections, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao has charged personnel of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to remain apolitical throughout the elections.
The CAS reiterated the directive on Tuesday, 7th February, 2023 while meeting with Branch Chiefs, Air Officers Commanding (AOCs), Commandants and Units Commanders at the Headquarters NAF, Abuja.
In a statement issued by the Director Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore, WAP Maigida, and made available to Security Watch Africa (SWA), Air Marshal Amao urged the Commanders to sensitize NAF personnel on the Code of Conduct for Armed Forces of Nigeria during elections.
He also reminded them to “be apolitical, particularly now that the elections are close.”
The statement went on “He added that the NAF will commence what he described as a realistic pre-induction training in all its units for personnel that would be deployed for election support duties.
“He charged NAF Commanders to synergy with other security agencies within their Areas of Responsibilities towards organizing joint inter-agency training in order to enhance the capacity of law-enforcement agencies in discharging their respective roles during the elections.
“NAF personnel are expected to work in synergy with other security agencies within their respective Areas of Responsibilities to ensure peaceful conduct of the forthcoming general elections”, CAS stated.
The CAS, according to the statement, went further to highlight that part of NAF’s responsibilities to provide aid to civil authority, include assisting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the airlift of election materials to various parts of the country.
Air Marshal Amao also charged field commanders in various Theatres of Operations across the country to “sustain the tempo of operations and onslaught against terrorists.”
“According to him, going by recent happenings in the country, it has become imperative for personnel to avoid any actions or utterances that could tarnish the image of the Service.”
Commending efforts of Commanders and personnel at various Theatres of Operations across the country, the statement said CAS noted that the remarkable successes recorded so far against insurgency and terrorism was as a result of hard work, dedication and sacrifices.
“Speaking further, the CAS disclosed that the NAF, in 2021 and 2022 alone, trained a total of 9,148 personnel locally and 786 personnel overseas cutting across all aircrew and ground specialties. According to him, currently a total of 122 personnel are undergoing foreign training while 1,057 are on local training and more would be processed for training in the course of the year.
“The CAS went further to state that NAF has developed a workable skill retention strategy to sustain excellence and quality by re-engaging selected highly skilled retired personnel in the scarce skills categories as instructors and mentors to pass on expertise and best practices to the junior ones.
“Air Marshal Amao commended the unwavering support of the Federal Government to the NAF, noting that the Service have acquired new and modern platforms and expecting delivery of more within the year to boost its equipment holding. This, he noted will go a long way in boosting NAF air power capabilities.
“He thanked the AOCs and Commanders for their commitment to the NAF so far and spurred them not to rest on their oars towards fulfilling their obligation to the Nation. He however tasked them to resuscitate regimentation and military traditions in their respective military formations and ensure discipline among the personnel as it remains the hallmark of military profession.
“The CAS’ meeting with the top echelon of the NAF is strategically important to its operational effectiveness and efficiency as well as service delivery,” the statement stated.
During the meeting, the CAS was briefed by AOCs, Commandants and Commanders.