Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said yesterday it was set to commence airlifting of thousands of medical materials and other consumables, procured by the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) for distribution to 14-member nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Nigeria inclusive, to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
It said it was in fulfillment of its constitutional role of providing aid to civil authority.
According to NAF, the airlift of the medical supplies is in fulfillment of the promise made by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the ECOWAS COVID-19 Response Coordination “Champion.”
NAF said it was on this basis that Nigeria would provide logistics support to ensure the items are distributed to all countries in the sub-region.
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.
The medical materials, which would be airlifted in three phases include; laboratory diagnostic kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), intensive care equipment and miscellaneous medical accessories such as coveralls, masks, face shields, goggles, reagents, viral transport medium, ventilators and oxygen concentrators, amongst others.
Flagging off the airlift of the medical materials at the 307 Executive Airlift Group (307 EAG), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday, 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 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 noted that the NAF had 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/distribution exercise for their dedication and professionalism.
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 NAF to a successful operation.