wpid-A-Nigerian-pentecostal-ch-007.jpgThe minister of defence, Lt.-Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd) has called for greater collaboration among the armed forces in the fight against insurgents in the country as he commended the Nigerian Air Force for ?doing a good job? since its creation.

Gusau gave this charge on Monday in Abuja at a dinner and award night to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) where the chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Badeh, was also honoured for his elevation.

He commended NAF for its support and participation in operations within and outside Nigeria since its creation. He noted that the force, in the last 50 years, had proved itself to be a competent one to rely on and to be reckoned with.

?The Air Force has achieved many successes in transporting our troops and provided logistic services to the National Emergency Management Agency. I have not known of any Air Force in the world that is as versatile as our Nigerian Air Force which operates 16 different types of aircraft.

?I will like to use this opportunity to congratulate officers, airmen and women of the Nigerian Air Force for the services they are rendering to our nation,?? he said.

Gusau said the successes recorded so far were due to the good leadership of the force and the effective training of its personnel.

The minister also commended the leadership style and performance of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.

?For those retiring, you are still in the reserve for the next three years, so be rest assured that the Air Force and the nation can call you to come back when necessary. I will like to convey the greetings of the president to the air men and women as you celebrate 50?.

In his speech, the Chief of Defence Staff, who was also the immediate past Chief of Air Staff said his tenure before elevation was challenging but exciting.

Badeh said the tenure was challenging because it coincided with the largest deployment of aircraft, assets and personnel outside the shores of the country since the end of ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra-Leone.

?It also marked the heightened increase in the deployment of assets and personnel to the North East in support of the ongoing insurgency operations. In spite of these challenges, however, we were able to record some modest achievements by building upon the foundation that had to be laid by my predecessor.??

Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, said that the NAF had a lot to celebrate. He said barely two years after its establishment, the service was faced with the daunting challenge of the civil war, in spite of its inexperience and yet it made a successful outing.

?As we celebrate 50 years of existence as a service, we might ask, do we really have cause to celebrate? I say yes, we have cause to celebrate?His tory tells me that barely three years after her establishment, the Nigerian Air Force was faced with the daunting challenge of the civil war. Despite her inexperience and the limited resources available, the Nigerian Air Force creditably played her role in the fight for the unity of Nigeria.

He said at the end of the civil war, NAF continued to develop and by the late 1980s, it was the `toast of the African continent?. He said that sadly, the shining era was followed by a period of decline, during the prolonged military rule, which lasted until the 21st century.

?Notwithstanding these challenges, we have retained the capability to retain the protection of Nigeria?s territorial integrity both at home and abroad.??

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