On February 29, 2021, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao assumed duty as the 21st Chief of the Air Staff with a lofty drive to synergise with sister agencies in the fight against insurgency and other criminal elements. TARKAA DAVID dares to penetrate the mind of the CAS. To penetrate Amao’s mind may require very delicate surgery, nevertheless, let’s give it a shot – the exercise may in the end be rewarding.
Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao was appointed the 21st chief of the air staff (CAS) on February 26, by President Muhammadu Buhari. His appointment followed the retirement of service chiefs who served the country for over 66 months of tenure and the acceptance of their retirement by PMB.
Born on September 14, 1965 in Enugu State, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Isiaka Amao, is an indigene of Oshogbo local government area in the State of Osun, South West Nigeria.
He joined the Armed Forces of Nigeria as a Cadet of the Nigerian Defence Academy , Regular Course 35 in January 1984 and was upon completion of his training at the Academy, commissioned a Pilot Officer in the Nigerian Air Force in December 1986.
AVM Amao who has served over three and a half decades in diverse roles which cut across ; Operational, Instructional, Command, Staff, Diplomatic, Policy and Strategic Leadership functions now has the responsibility to lead the prestigious Force in the fight against insurgency which has defied military solutions and other criminalities across the country.
The CAS as a seasoned Fighter Instructor Pilot on the Alpha Jet served as a Squadron Pilot at the 99 (now 407) Air Combat Training Group Kainji.
He subsequently worked as an Instructor Pilot at both the 301 (now 401) Flying Training School Kaduna and the 303 (now 403) Flying Training School Kano, with over 1,500 Jet and Instructional Hours to his credit.
The CAS gathered operational experiences during his participation in the Africa-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), as well as the counter-insurgency Operations ZAMAN LAFIYA and LAFIA DOLE in the North East of Nigeria.
Amao’s experiences covers the spectrum from the tactical, through the operational to the strategic levels, endowing him with a holistic appreciation of the complexities of leading a fighting force.
The Chief at one point also commanded the 407 Air Combat Training Group Kainji and the 75 (now 103) Strike Group Yola.
He was also the Air Component Commander for both Operation ZAMAN LAFIYA and Operation LAFIYA DOLE, also serving as Deputy Theatre Commander for the latter.
While performing these roles, he oversaw a synergistic employment of Air Power to effectively support land forces in sustaining stabilisation operations across the North East Theatre.
The Air Chief then rose to the position of Air Officer Commanding , Tactical Air Command, the lead combat element (often referred to as the “teeth”) of the Nigerian Air Force.
Air Vice Marshal Amao was privileged to serve in critical capacities which enabled him to contribute significantly to development of the Service whilst acquiring unique perspectives and insights which have shaped his strategic thoughts.
He was, at various times; air assistant to the chief of the air staff, assistant director of operations, director of policy, director of training as well as director of operations, all at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. This rich bouquet of Strategic-level Staff experiences has instilled in him a deep appreciation of developmental imperatives of the Service.
It is interesting to note that Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao possesses a keen understanding of international relations as they affect defence matters which he acquired through his meritorious service as deputy defence adviser and acting defence adviser at the Nigerian High Commission in London, United Kingdom.
In the area of Policy and Strategic Leadership, he has developed vital competencies in the course of his service as Chief of Training and Operations and subsequently chief of Policy and Plans at the Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. Most recently, until his appointment as the 21st Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Amao was the Commandant of the Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Oshodi, a key institution tasked with the responsibility of training and empowering military personnel for post-service re-integration into the civil society.
Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao is decorated, amongst others, with the Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguished Service Star and General Service Star, in addition to the General Service Medal and the River Benue Star, which were awarded for his service in various military campaigns.
He has also been privileged to benefit from strategic leadership development training in notable indigenous and international institutions; he is an alumnus of the prestigious Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji-Nigeria as well as the Defence Services Staff College Wellington, India. He is a Fellow of the National Defence University of China and holds a Master of Science in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras India as well as a Master of Military Science and Strategy from the National Defence University China.
He is also a certified aircraft accident investigator trained in Karachi, Pakistan and at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria, Nigeria as well as being a Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI).
Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Isiaka Amao enjoys reading, dancing and travelling as well as playing volleyball and golf. He also has a keen interest in fish farming.
The fine military officer is married to Mrs Elizabeth Olubunmi Amao and the union is blessed with three boys.
The CAS has outlined his vision for the Service, which is among other things; “to enhance and sustain critical airpower capabilities required for joint force employment in pursuit of national security imperatives.”
The vision is hinged on five key drivers namely;‘ Focus on doctrinal development and application of airpower in Joint military operations’; ‘pursuit of purposeful training and human capacity development’ as well as ‘sustenance of platforms and equipment serviceability through innovative maintenance methods and logistics support systems’.
He highlighted that the other key drivers are ‘fostering a disciplined workforce essential for combat readiness’ and ‘bolstering morale by improving personnel welfare’.
The CAS on January 29 2021 during his taking over speech assured Nigerians that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), in synergy with sister services and other security agencies, would do its best to provide the support and security necessary for the Nation’s development.
In doing this , he said the Service would spare no effort in discharging its constitutional responsibilities to the government and law-abiding citizens of the country.
He said the NAF would sustainably and effectively employ Air Power in the protection of Nigeria’s people and interests, against all enemies of the state.
AVM Amao stated that his appointment was a challenge and call to national duty, especially at this crucial stage in Nigeria’s development, which he had accepted with utmost humility. He further noted that, though bedeviled by various forms of insecurity, ranging from the Boko Haram insurgency/terrorism in the North East to the criminal activities of pipeline vandals, crude oil thieves, sea robbers and militants in the South, the nation was also facing increasing threats from kidnappers, cattle rustlers and militarised herdsmen.
He restated the NAF’s resolve to bring such threats to an end in order to ensure that the Nation is safe and economically attractive. He said the NAF will continue to do its best possible by leveraging credible partnerships, focusing on enhancing professionalism for high performance as well as motivational initiatives to create an enabling environment for its operations and personnel to thrive.
To this end, the CAS charged all officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF to give their best by exhibiting unparalleled professionalism, patriotism and ingenuity to ensure the security of the Country.
There is no doubt that Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, with his rich knowledge and experience, armed with this robust vision, will undoubtedly move the Nigerian Air Force to the next level, whilst building on the successes recorded by his predecessors. It is believed that this would translate into better security across Nigeria, which would, in turn, facilitate the rapid development of the nation.
He said, “We will deploy some brave efforts to rescue our country from the despair that have been our lot. While i will sustain the strides attained by my predecessor, I will join hands with sister agencies to take Nigeria to the status of a work-in- progress. It’s very important to state here that we still need concerted effort to strike out in new direction.
“It is, therefore, with deep sense of responsibility that I promise that we must move determinedly and at great speed too to achieve the set goals the president and people as well as our resources have clearly marked for us. In all, we will make the country proud.”