Minister of Defence urges Air Force to continue to work towards securing the nation

The Nigerian Air Force, on Friday in Abuja, decorated its first female pilot, Flying Officer Blessing Liman, along with 29 other male pilots.

Decorating the officers in Abuja, the Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Mohammed, said the Air Force has given a good account of itself and justified the vision of its founding fathers as a veritable tool for nation building.

Represented by the Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Obada, Mohammed said the contribution of the Air Force to national development had been attested to beyond our shores.

He said the business of ensuring adequate security for the nation today cannot be left to any single organisation, saying it should be a collective effort.

“Perhaps, I need to reiterate here that the ultimate aim of Mr. President’s Transformation Agenda is to guarantee the security and welfare of the entire citizenry. In this regard, much work still needs to be done to defeat the asymmetric threats of the present,” he said.

He commended the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar, and his team for maintaining consistent and significant strides in the pursuit of greater heights for the Air Force.

Mohammed called on the new pilots to continually strive for hard work and dedicated service as they step out with their wings and to continually bear in mind what the nation expects from them.

“For the female pilot in your midst, as well as every woman serving in the Armed Forces of Nigeria, let me state that you represent independence, power, equal rights and obligations. I dare add that you are a significant part of the success story of Nigeria since advent of current democratic dispensation, I urge you therefore, to remain an outstanding example,” he said.

Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar, said the ceremony was another milestone in the policy thrust of the current leadership of the Air Force.

This, he said, was to position, transform and strategise, to make the service relevant in the nation’s quest for stability and development.

Umar explained that as part of the President’s Transformation Agenda, the armed forces were directed to produce female combatants in order to give impetus to the 35 percent affirmative action for women.

He affirmed the belief that women can make valuable contributions to nation building, adding that in the Air Force, women are welcomed to serve in any capacity where they can and contribute to operational activities.

“In this regard, I am pleased to announce that the first female pilot in the Nigerian Air Force, the first female military-pilot in West Africa, is part of the new pilots that will be winged. To the young pilots, I want to state unequivocally that you have every reason to be proud of your accomplishments,” Umar said.

“By earning your wings today, you are inheriting a tradition of excellence and in fact, privileged to be joining ‘men of wings’ who have committed themselves to the service of their fatherland not only within our shores but internationally.” 

In an interview with journalists, Flying Officer Blessing Liman, the female pilot, said she was happy that the Air Force is encouraging women to enlist.

She said joining the Air Force was a way of serving the nation, and though it had been challenging but with hard work and dedication she was able to overcome the challenges. 

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