The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, on Monday said that 435 specialits have been trained by the Nigerian Air Force to man its platforms.
The personnel were trained at the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Kaduna.
Abubakar disclosed this during the graduation ceremony of participants of Initial Officers and Basic Airmen/Airwomen Sundry Courses at AFIT, NAF base in Kaduna.
He said that it was time for the institution to reflect on how well it has delivered on its mandate while the students reflect on the enormity of the challenges that lie ahead in building a successful professional career in the NAF.
He noted that for over 40 years, AFIT has consistently trained officers and airmen/airwomen who have performed creditably in supporting NAF operations as specialists in aircraft and armament engineering.
Also in works and services, supply management, communication as well as Information and Communication Technology.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 435 students where trained on engineering, armament maintenance, logistics and procurement management.
Others include, electrical/electronics/radar/Information technology, aircraft maintenance, Air Frame and Power Plant Option and avionics.
NAN also reports that among the 435 graduating students, 75 are officers and 360 are airmen and airwomen.
Abubakar said the vision of the current NAF administration was anchored on human capacity development for enhanced professional performance.
“Ensuring NAF personnel have the requisite knowledge and skills to effectively support Nigerian Air Force operations which remains the prime focus of my administration
”For this year, despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, AFIT has successfully completed the training of 760 NAF personnel including the 435 students who are graduating today.
“In the area of pilots training, two officers including the first female fighter pilot have concluded their tactical training on the A-Jet aircraft.
“Only last week, we witnessed the graduation of 29 officers of Super Mushk Course 46 who have successfully completed their ab initio pilot training on the Supermushak and the DA-40 aircraft.
”Similarly, last Friday, 24 special forces personnel passed out as instructors at the RTC Annex in Bauchi and the unit also commenced the training of 219 SF personnel.
“Later in the week, we shall witness the graduation of four student pilots that have completed their Basic Fighter Training course in Kano.”
According to Abubakar, these courses that have been concluded successfully despite enormous challenges including the COVID–19 pandemic.
”It will no doubt have positive impact not only on our operations but will go a long way towards ensuring that the Service is positioned into a highly professional and disciplined force.”
He also noted that the technical and logistics management courses conducted by the Air Force Institute have helped tremendously to reduce dependence on foreign expatriates and save huge foreign exchange for the nation.
“The execution of air operations in theatres across Nigeria using solely Nigerian crews, engineers, technicians, and controllers is a testament of the success story of our capacity building initiative.
”I congratulate the students for their steadfastness, tenacity of purpose and grit to complete your course work.
”However, let me remind you that the initial and basic courses you have just completed is the beginning of your journey as professionals in the NAF.
“You still have a lot to learn particularly from your superiors in the field.
“It is my sincere expectation that as you go to the field, you will be good and worthy ambassador of AFIT as you join a long line of outstanding graduates of this prestigious citadel who through excellence, hard work and commitment have continue to contribute to the success of the Nigerian Air Force.”
Abubakar expressed NAF appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, for his continuous support.
“The invaluable support the NAF has enjoyed over the years has placed us in a position to tackle the challenges of insurgency and myriad of other forms of insecurity across the nation.
“We hereby reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all Nigerians and indeed all the people who reside in our great country,” he said.
Earlier, the Commandant of AFIT, AVM Abdulganiyyu Olabisi, said that the basic courses were aimed at introducing the officers and men to their various trades in preparation for deployment to the field.
Olabisi said having recognized that the officers and men of the NAF can only give as good as they are equipped to, reiterated the need to train and re-train them to handle all the operational needs of the Nigerian Air Force.
This he said will deemphasize dependence on foreign nationals and non-military actors.
The Commandant appealed to NAF Headquarters to assist in the funding of the training initiatives.
NAN report that the Chief of Air Staff also inaugurated two block of hostels of 24 rooms each built by the Nigerian Airforce Investments Limited and handed to the AFIT.