Adeniji Adekunle’s name may not ring a bell just yet, but he has carved a niche for himself as a photographer and artist with an exceptional way of creating handmade greeting cards, as well as art pieces with polished wood without carving.
Adekunle has created another art piece which he called a museum piece dedicated to the 20th Chief of Air Staff (CAS) of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
The artist who explained why he dedicated the art piece to the CAS said: “Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar truly has great vision for the Nigerian Air Force, a man without fear who loves his country, a patriot, a father, and a role model. No matter what critics say, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar is the reason why the Nigerian Air Force has been repositioned into a highly motivated, disciplined and formidable force that is gaining the trust of every well- meaning Nigerian.
“He believes that it is a leader’s responsibility to motivate and ensure troops’ understanding on why they are trained in a particular way, lending credibility to the way every single air force personnel today is more concerned about the security and peace of the country first, before himself.”
Adekunle who said he was inspired by Abubakar’s efforts in repositioning the NAF into a highly motivated, disciplined and formidable force that is gaining the trust of every well- meaning Nigerian today, noted, “I was impressed by the hard work and commitment in changing the face of the Nigerian Air Force to a greater one, so for this reason I created this museum piece to be presented to him.
“I have always watched him in the news and saw how he visited his men in his tradition of spending festive periods with NAF troops in the frontline, and how he commissioned quality housing units for its officers, which he said are geared towards enhancing the welfare of his personnel to enable them focus on their tasks and continue in adding value to the service”.
He explained further that Abubakar’s leadership within the past years has been extraordinary and in a more spectacular way brought the force much more closer to the generality of Nigerians. “Many Nigerians would today, sit back, relax and say with pride that ‘this is our own air force”, he added.
“Nigerians watch with pride the pursuit of the NAF ranging from its contributions in the fight against insurgency and other security concerns, as well as providing all forms of humanitarian services to internally displaced persons (IDPs). The NAF under his leadership has forged a bond that is driven by the desire to serve the nation.
“One great thing is that Abubakar has formed a relationship with his troops and has established a standard to guide their performance, on and off the line of duty.
Furthermore, Nigerians are presently witnessing, through him an air force which desires to stand in the defence of the nation, protection of Nigerians and their properties, offering aid to civil society, which has become a permanent feature of the NAF’s national image”, the artist noted.
Adekunle’s museum piece, which has a portrait and a stand and looks like a podium, has on the portrait pictures of Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and his profile, a picture showing President Muhammadu Buhari aided by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in decorating the CAS with his new rank of Air-Marshal at the Presidential villa in abuja on Thursday, August 13, 2015.
On the stand at the top are also pictures showing the CAS on September 27, 2018, when he undertook an operational visit to Headquarters Mobility Command and 235 Base Services Wing, NAF Base Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Speaking further on the make-up of his museum piece, Adekunle said, “While in Yenagoa, the CAS also paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, which showed in the pictures. Also in the picture is the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the CAS, and his principal officers during a courtesy visit to the governor by the CAS at the Lagos House, Ikeja on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.”
In front of the stand is the logo of the Nigerian Air Force, the three golden stars on light blue background (moulded out of cement), which signifys the office of the CAS, which is seen at the centre while by the sides are photographs showing NAF commissioning of the newly resuscitated Machine Tools Workshop at its base in Makurdi.
The repair, Adekunle said, is in line with ongoing efforts towards the robust logistics support and maintenance culture to sustain platforms and equipment serviceability, one of the key drivers of the vision of Abubakar on October 20, 2017.
Photographs showing Abubakar, in continuation of the series of visits being undertaken to assess and enhance the operational effectiveness of NAF units across the country, on June 23, 2018 and his visit to NAF units in Makurdi. The visit equally afforded the CAS the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), as well as interact with NAF personnel deployed for the operation. The Chairman House Committee on the Air Force, Honourable Samson Okwu, also accompanied the CAS on the visit.
Hopes for an Air Force Museum
The artist also revealed that few years back, there was plan by the former Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation to build a museum for the NAF in partnership with the ministry but the effort was aborted by the past government.
He however expressed optimism that if the Air Force Museum is established, it would aid the Federal Government and the force to preserve equipment used by the force, which would act as a learning field for Nigerian students. He added that that the project would promote the desire for Nigerians to be enlisted in the service and promote the image of the country to the rest of the world.
He further suggested that, “the department for Museums and Archives could build the Nigerian Air Force Memorial Centre, which will have historical equipment concerning the air force, photos of pre-colonial, to colonial, to independence and even to the present day peace keeping mission and pictures of all the CAS’ in the history of Nigeria. Then, primary, secondary and university students including organisations can visit the centre, which will not be for free. The museum piece like the one I created can also be kept there.”
Adeniji also appealed to Nigerians to try and patronise made-in-Nigerian products such as art works, textile, shoes, and many more, noting that, “it will grow the economy. Do you know that failure to patronise made-in-Nigeria products would worsen unemployment? Do you know that the more made-in-Nigeria products you patronise, the more jobs that are created, which in turns help to reduce unemployment? Therefore when next you go out for shopping ask of made-in-Nigerian arts works, textiles, shoes and other products”