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Nigeria @58: NAF Exhibits Military Might With 22 Aircrafts

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National security remains a critical point in the life of every nation. TARKAA DAVID writes on the showmanship displayed by NAF on the nation’s Independence Day.

With the rising reign of terror across the globe, we can assert that we live in a dangerous world with the goal of the Nigeria Armed Forces, which is to keep our nation secure. That is why a strong national defence is so important to the security and protection of Nigerians. We must ensure that the military remains the most effective and capable military in the world. Acts of terrorists around the world and here at home underscore that they are still determined to unleash terror if the military do not step up their game.
National security is important, not only to the government, but to the nation as a whole. National security serves many purposes. The federal government must ensure that the military has the most effective and technologically advanced weapons systems and hardware available and the technical know how to use them effectively. In all things, in all tasks, beyond any debate, the military’s purpose is to serve and protect and that was why the Nigerian Air Force was formulated as a branch of the military. The Nigerian Air Force was formally established on 18 April 1964 with the passage of the Air Force Act 1964 by the National Assembly. ‘Nigerian Air Force shall be charged with the defence of the Federal Republic by air, and to give effect thereto, the personnel shall be trained in such duties as in the air as well as on the ground.’ Despite losing a pilot two days to the celebration of Nigeria’s 58 Independence during rehearsal, the Nigerian Air Force, in a daring and fearless move, displayed 22 aircrafts to show the nation’s military might. This celebration comes after several years of hiatus, to mark this year’s Independence Day celebration; pilots of the NAF mounted 23 aircraft and participated actively at the 58th Independence Day Celebration in Abuja.

LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the 23 aircraft that participated in the aerial show by the Nigerian Air Force at the ceremony included Helicopters, Fighter Jets, C-130, Heavy Airlift, Medium and light airlift aircraft. Recall that while training for the aerial show, two jets crashed last Friday, which claimed the life of Squadron Leader Bello Baba-Ari and left two wounded survivors.
The director of public relations and information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, who confirmed the incident, which happened around Katampe hills, said the three pilots ejected from the planes following a mishap. He stated that one of the pilot squadron leaders, Bello Mohammed Baba-Ari, died later due to complications from the injuries he sustained during the impact on the ground. However, an eyewitness account revealed that the pilot met his death due to parachute failure. The witness, who claimed to be one of the members of the first rescue team, said other occupants of the plane were wounded because they landed wrongly. The chief of air staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, while commiserating with the family of the deceased, also ordered an investigation to determine the causes of the crash. The statement reads in part: ‘Two Nigerian Air Force (NAF) F-7Ni aircraft taking part in the rehearsals for the aerial display to mark Nigeria’s 58th Independence anniversary celebrations were involved in an air incident today, 28 September, 2018.

“The air mishap necessitated the three pilots to eject from their aircraft, which subsequently crashed in the general area of Katamkpe Hill. Regrettably, however, one of them later died due to complications from injuries sustained upon impact on the ground. Thankfully, there were no civilian casualties. “The chief of air staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf of officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF, commiserates with the family of the deceased officer. “The CAS has also instituted an air crash investigation to determine the remote and immediate causes of the incident”  The statement is however, silent over eyewitness accounts of the death resulting from a faulty parachute. LEADERSHIP Friday reports that the officer was laid to rest according Islamic rites at the Gudu cemetery, Abuja at about 17:50 hours. Speaking during a condolence visit to the fallen pilot’s family, the CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was received by the deceased’s father, Alhaji Abu Baba-Ari, lauded the sterling virtues of the late senior officer, stating that he was an exceptional officer who excelled in virtually every area of his career. He described late Baba-Ari as an intelligent, articulate, hardworking, resourceful and dedicated officer who was well liked and respected by his peers, subordinates and superiors alike.
In a statement by the director of public relations and information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the CAS stated that Baba-Ari had distinguished himself as an outstanding combat pilot who had made tangible contributions in the counter terrorism operations in the North East. He, therefore, urged the family to take solace in the fact that their son was a hero, who had made the supreme sacrifice in service to the nation.

The CAS also visited the Defence Intelligence Agency Medical Centre to check on the two surviving pilots, who, according the officials, are recuperating extremely well.
The CAS was accompanied on the condolence visit by a team comprising all 10 Branch Heads from NAF Headquarters as well as the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command and Commander 101 Air Defence Group, where late San Ldr Baba-Ari previously served as acting commander.
In a show of courage, young pilots participated at the Independence Celebration under the command of a top-ranking air force officer.
They exhibited great aerobatics display to the admiration of President Muhammad Buhari and top public functionaries who witnessed the occasion at the Eagle’s Square, Abuja.
NAF Light Aircraft display were said to have observed an emotional moment after the aerial parade and successful landing at the airport, when some of the young pilots emerged from their aircraft and embraced themselves with tears as they prayed for their lost colleague and survivors.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has boosted its air fleet with 49 fighter planes and attack helicopters in the last three years. It also reactivated 15 helicopters and trained over 90 pilots.
Earlier in the day, President Muhammadu Buhari took the salute at the Eagle’s Square, Abuja, as military and para-military organisations held a colourful parade in commemoration of Nigeria’s 58th Independence.

The event was the first full-fledged Independence Day parade since an explosion, which occurred near Eagle’s Square on Oct 1, 2010, marred the celebration. Shortly after arrival at the square, the president, who was the Special Guest of Honour, mounted the parade car and inspected the Guards. Ceremonially dressed men drawn from, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police, Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Prisons Service and Nigerian Immigration Service filed out. Also in the parade were men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Fire Service, National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) and the Nigerian Legion.
After the inspection of Guards, Buhari took the presidential salute. The parade, commanded by Lt Col Muktar Dauda, then commenced the match past, which broke from slow to quick march in synchronised format attracting applause from the spectators. After the match past, there was a display of equipment by the Army, Navy, Police and Air Force, which was followed by firing of volleys and 21-Gun Salute.
The president then received three hearty cheers and granted permission to the parade commander to march off the parade.
The vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, service chiefs, chief justice of the federation, secretary to the government of the federation, members of the federal executive council and captains of industry graced the event.
The security and safety of Nigerians must continue to be the number one priority of the federal government.

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