The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said it has commenced airlifting of thousands of medical supplies and other consumables, procured by the West African Health Organization (WAHO) for distribution to 14 member nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including Nigeria, to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Director, Public Relations and Information, NAF, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola in a statement said, the gesture was in fulfilment of NAF’s constitutional role of providing aid to civil authority.
The 13 other ECOWAS countries are Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cape Verde, Niger Republic, Burkina Faso, Mali and the Republic of Benin.
He said the airlift of the medical supplies is in fulfillment of the promise made by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, that Nigeria would provide logistics support to ensure the items are distributed to all countries in the Sub-Region. President Buhari currently champions the cause for the ECOWAS COVID-19 Response Coordination.
At a flag off ceremony of the airlift of the medical materials at the 307 Executive Airlift Group (307 EAG), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, who was represented by the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, stated that President Buhari had risen to the occasion as a true Champion who has demonstrated good leadership, solidarity, friendship and good neighbourliness to the Sub-Region.
He further noted that the Nigerian Air Force has remained the backbone of the logistics operations of the PTF’s response in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
He therefore commended the pilots and entire crew of the 2 NAF C-130H aircraft that would be handling the airlift and distribution exercise for their dedication and professionalism.
The supplies, which would be airlifted in 3 phases, include laboratory diagnostic kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), intensive care equipment and miscellaneous medical accessories such as coveralls, masks, face shields, goggles, reagents, viral transport medium, ventilators and oxygen concentrators, amongst others.
In his remarks, while receiving the consignments for airlift, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) James Gwani, noted that, in line with the NAF’s responsibility of providing military aid to civil authority, the Service considered the airlifting of the items a great privilege and worthy contribution to a noble cause. He therefore pledged the commitment of the Service to a successful operation.
Also present at the flag-off ceremony were the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada; President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou; Director-General, WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo; Director of Operations, HQ NAF, Air Vice Marshall Ayoola Jolasinmi, along with other dignitaries and Government officials.