The Nigeria Air Force (NAF), has hosted three African countries for the African Partnership Flight (APF) in Lagos, to further enhance regional cooperation, increase interoperability and build capacity. Chad, Niger and Benin Republic participated in the US-backed APF – a multilateral military-to-military engagement designed to boost African cooperation in aviation. Speaking at the opening, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said it was important for contiguous nations to pull their resources together to ensure a synergy in their operations.
“Globally, the concept of regional forces has gained recognition as the best approach towards solving common security issues.
“This is because the most prevalent form of warfare in contemporary times is asymmetric in nature and often transcends international borders,’’ he said.
Abubakar said that the regional synergy was for the common goal of stamping out the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East of Nigeria.
“The NAF, which is one of the instruments of national power, is not unmindful of the occasional need for services to participate in both joint and combined operations.
“The service is also mindful of the effect and aftermath of insurgency with particular reference to the plight of innocent civilians including women and children, who often are the unintended victims.
“We are all aware of the current Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria which has resulted in over two million Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) who are in dire need of one basic need or the other,’’ he said. Abubakar said it was for this reason that NAF embarked on several humanitarian programmes aimed at alleviating the plight of the IDPs.
He commended the U.S. Air Force Command in Europe for bringing together countries of the region to stimulate a combined security and humanitarian environment.
The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, in his keynote address, said armed forces all over the world have the traditional role to defending their nations from external aggression and maintaining territorial integrity.
Represented by the Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Mr Oluseye Oladejo, Ambode said the armed forces had been busy doing a good job of confronting our nation’s multifaceted internal security challenges.
”With the changing trends in modern warfare, armed forces have been further saddled with the tremendous responsibility of providing regional security through multinational joint forces.
”However, the major problems confronting such multinational forces are usually differences in doctrines, training, weapon, language and cultures, thus, underscoring the need for constant joint training to enhance interoperability.
”You will all recall that in a bid to re-position the armed forces to better cope with those challenges, the present administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has made modernisation, re-equipping and continuous training a top priority,’’ he said. He said it was particularly noteworthy that the U.S. had been supportive in the efforts at building the capacity of NAF personnel.
”On the choice of theme, I expect that this event would contribute to further building the capacity of the NAF personnel in their untiring efforts at reaching IDPs and other non-combatants,’’ he said.
COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff
At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.
This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.
S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS
South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.
Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as “extremely fruitful” the meeting which a presidential team had with leaders and stakeholders of the South-East.
“The meeting of the presidential delegation with South-East leaders was very useful,’’ Mohammed told journalists on Sunday in Enugu.
The delegation, led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, met for more than eight hours in Enugu with selected South-East leaders.
Mohammed said that it was quite instructive that all the groups which took part in the meeting believed in the unity and oneness of the country, pointing out that they clearly spelt out this in their presentations.
“We listened clearly and carefully to all the positions and demands and we are going back to report directly to President Buhari,’’ the minister said.
He noted that the Federal Government had been spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country, simultaneously and equitably.
“We want the South-East people to be confident that the Federal Government is spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country equitably and will never marginalise any zone in the ongoing development and infrastructure agenda.
“This is what I want to assure Nigerians living in the South-East,’’ Mohammed noted.
According to the minister, when the team gets back to Abuja it will see what can be done immediately concerning some of the positions and demands made by the South-East leaders.
The presidential delegation met with South-East governors, statesmen, elders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as market women and youth leaders.
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