Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said on Tuesday that the element of risk could not be ruled out in air operations.
He spoke in Abuja, when he hosted pilots of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and other crew members, who participated in the traditional aerial display which was part of the ceremonial parade marking Nigeria’s 58th independence anniversary celebrations.
He lauded “the courage, resilience and dexterity of the pilots in effectively executing the mission in spite of the unfortunate air mishap, which claimed the life of late Squadron Leader, Mohammed Bello Baba-Ari, during a rehearsal for the event on September 28.
Air Marshal Abubakar, who could not hide his admiration for the pilots and other crew members for their show of professionalism, noted that the Nigerian populace was indeed appreciative of their efforts and commitment in carrying out their constitutional responsibilities.
He admitted that the hazardous nature of the military profession, especially air operations, implied that the element of risk could never be totally eliminated.
He, therefore, thanked them for remaining focused despite the tragic incident that cost the NAF the loss of one of its finest and very promising senior officers and encouraged them to always remain dedicated in the performance of their assigned tasks despite any circumstances they may face.
He also eulogised late Squadron Leader Baba-Ari as a very dedicated and committed senior officer who was well respected and liked by all.
According to him, the remarks emanating from every quarter about the late senior officer were indicative of a legacy that epitomised NAF’s core values of ‘Integrity’, ‘Excellence’ and ‘Service before Self’.
The CAS also used the opportunity to thank Nigerians for the overwhelming show of sympathy and support as well as the words of encouragement and prayers offered for the family of the deceased pilot and the NAF.
He assured the pilots and other crew members of the unwavering support of the NAF leadership.
A statement by the NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the air force chief urged the pilots to continue to do their utmost towards securing the territorial integrity of the country and helping millions of helpless Nigerians in the various theatres of operation