The Nigerian Air Force yesterday winged its first female combat pilots, Flying Officer K.O. Sanni, Flying Officer T. Arotile and 11 other pilots, bringing the number of winged pilots to 101 under the leadership of the current Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
At a ceremony held at the NAF headquarters, Abuja, the CAS also decorated the first female Air Warrant Officer (AWO), Grace Tabawa Garba.
Abubakar, while performing the ceremony, said the 13 pilots who completed their flying training abroad performed well during their training period and qualified for the award of the NAF prestigious wing.
He stated: “Today indeed marks another milestone in the history of the NAF and I am gratified to be part of it. I am particularly happy because out of the 13 pilots to be winged are two female Regular Combatant officers. It is not only because they are female officers, but because they are also outstanding aviators.
“While one of the 2 pilots is the first female fighter pilot in the 55 years history of the NAF, the second one is the first female combat helicopter pilot in the history of the service. The first female fighter pilot trained at the United States Air Force, following an excellent performance during her initial flying training course at 401 Flying Training School in Kaduna, while the second graduated from Starlite International Training Academy. They both performed excellently well during their training”.
Abubakar said his commitment to human capacity development was informed by the fact that human resource was the most important of all resources available to any leader
“It is common knowledge that of all resources available to a leader or manager, the human resource is the most important. This is because the human resource drives all other resources pursuant to the attainment of organisational objectives. It is predicated on this consideration that the NAF spares nothing at developing its human resource capital,” he added
The CAS noted further that the desire for excellence was even more compelling in the face of current and perceived future national security challenges.
He said the NAF has continued to invest in human capacity building since the service is a veritable instrument for national security.
“Today, our records indicate that we have trained a total of 67 Instructor pilots since 2015. Furthermore, with the winging of these pilots today, the NAF would have winged a total of 101 pilots within the same period. Currently, we have 61 pilots undergoing ab-initio/basic flying training, while 50 are undergoing various forms of advanced flying training courses both locally and abroad.”
Abubakar charged the pilots to be prepared for the arduous task ahead of them as they fit into the operational flying environment.
“I must add that the mission of a fruitful flying career has just begun and as such, you must stay inspired. You must open your minds to learn and be prepared to be guided by your senior colleagues in the field.”
In her remarks, the minister of women affair, Dame Pauline Tallen, commended the leadership of the NAF for training and winging the first ever female fighter pilot as well as the first ever female combat helicopter pilot.
She said that the event has attested to the laudable achievements and transformation taking place in the Nigerian Air Force.
“It also portrays the Nigerian Air Force positively as it has shown that it is an equal opportunity establishment that encourages all its personnel to achieve excellence in their career.”
Tallen expressed hope that the pilots being winged will put in their best and contribute their quota towards consolidating on the success attained in the fight against current security challenges in the North East and North West as well as communal clashes, kidnapping and armed banditry.
While calling on Nigerians to remain patriotic and support the government in efforts made at bequeathing a safe and secure Nigeria, she assured Nigerians of the commitment and resolve of the federal government to spare no effort or resources towards safeguarding lives and properties of its fellow citizens across the length and breadth of the country.
“While you have every reason to be happy and fulfilled as you join the elite corps of military pilots, it is important to remind you that this is just the beginning of another chapter of your career as officers in the Nigerian Air Force. You should by now know that the reward for hard work is more work. Therefore, I enjoin you all to continue to work hard and also add value to the operations of the Nigerian Air Force in order to reach the zenith of your career,” she told the officers.
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