The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (3rd right), Zamfara State Governor, Dr Bello Mohammed Matawalle (3rd left), Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Charles Ohwo (2nd left), NAF Chief of Logistics, AVM Mohammed Yakubu (2nd right), and other senior NAF officers in a group photograph during the CAS visit to Gusau Zamfara State recently.
Recently the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) came under the limelight when for the socond year running, it recieved double honours and recognition for its efforts in crises communication management strategies and empowering women in roles traditionally thought were for men. Our Correspondent in this piece examines the strides of the NAF and the importance of the award to the military establishment and the country at large.
It has been a harvest of awards for the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) as it was recently recognized in two important global competitions and carted home the accompanying trophies, amidst accolades and loud ovation.
The Nigerian Air Force for the second year in a role won the prestigious International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Golden World Award (GWA) for Excellence in Crisis Communication Management.
In the same vein, it also emerged among the major winners of the 2020 African Public Relations Association (APRA) Public Sector/ Government Category Awards, which recognises Superior Achievement in Branding Reputation and Engagement (SABRE).
The two awards were as a result of NAF’s campaign through the documentary, “Women of War”, which highlighted on-going initiatives in the Nigeria Air Force to empower women in roles hitherto considered to be beyond them due to certain cultural inhibitions and misconceptions.
The 2020 Golden World Awards, which was announced by the Member Services Manager of IPRA, Janice Hill, stated that the selection of finalists and winners was done online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
President of IPRA and Chairman of the Jury, Swetlana Stavreva, stated that the entries were evaluated by multiple judges to ensure balanced assessment. “We had expected the competition this year to be tough as budgets were cut and people worked from home.
So, we were proud to see the PR industry fight back determined to tell the world about its best campaigns”, she said. The jury for the selection of the 2020 GWA winners comprised judges from various countries worldwide, including Austria, Bulgaria, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Philippines, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
President of APRA, Mr Yom Badejo-Okusanya, while speaking on the 2020 SABRE Awards, stated that the annual award ceremony, which would have coincided with the Annual Conference earlier scheduled to hold in May 2020 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
A virtual ceremony was eventually held in September, before the Awards were dispatched to the various winners.
Evidently, the double awards are testimonies to the leadership style of the current Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar in steering the affairs of the Nigerian Air Force. It is to his credit that the force is getting renewed vigor on all front and achieving all round results even in these extra ordinary circumstances when all the services are seriously tasked with confronting the security challenges confronting the country.
In the views of Air Force spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in the last five years since the current Chief of Air Staff came into office under the leadership of Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, the Nigerian Air Force has been focused on its core mandate in promoting and inculcating the core values of integrity, excellence and service delivery in all its operations.
Daramola noted that the administration has also placed high premium on equal opportunities for both male and female personnel to realize their full potentials. “The enabling environment created as a result of this policy led to a surge in the involvement of female personnel in areas that were hitherto the preserve of men”. He said.
He said that Five female pilots have been winged within the period, bringing the total number of female pilots in the NAF to seven. Unfortunately the Force lost one of its female pilots earlier this year. The female officer. Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, died from head injuries she sustained in a road traffic accident at the Air Force base in Kaduna.
The NAF continues to pay premium to the training of female pilots believing that women have the capacity to fit into roles traditionally reserved for men. NAF investment in capacity building for both its male and female officers has created a level playing field, instilled discipline and professionalism in the Nigerian Air Force.
According to Daramola “14 other female officers are currently undergoing training both within and outside the country to become pilots. Similarly, many other female officers and airwomen are excelling in their various fields of specialization, including Regiment and Special Forces, Aircraft/Armament Engineers and Technicians as well as Air Traffic Controllers, amongst others.
“The objective in this regard is to maximize all of the potentials of Nigeria’s vast human resource pool, male and female, to ensure the effective, efficient and timely em-ployment of Air Power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives,” He said.
Against this background it is not surprising that the Nigerian Air Force continues to win accolades across the shores of Nigeria. It would be recalled that last year in September 2019, the Nigeria Air Force had first bagged the IPRA Award for Crisis Communication Management in recognition of its management of communication in the aftermath of the attack on Metele in the Northeast of Nigeria.
The Melete incident of December 2018 is one of the low points in the war against insurgents in the Northeast, specifically Borno State, but the NAF rose to the occasion.
Also, in 2019, the Nigeria Air Force received a ‘Certificate of Excellence’ from the Holmes Report/ APRA SABRE Awards Africa for its crisis communication campaign on the counter insurgency operations in the Northeast region of the country.
These are awards based on concrete visible achievements conferred by reputable global institutions not vanity awards or awards recieved through financial lobby. By these double awards NAF has not only brought honor to itself but to the military institution and the country at large.