By Kingsley Nwezeh
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the airlifting of COVID-19 medical relief materials donated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with the support of donor partners like Team Europe, the Germany, United Nations Development Programme and Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ.
NAF said in a statement yesterday that the relief materials, which would be distributed to the 14-member nations of ECOWAS, Nigeria inclusive, were in response to the spread of the second wave of COVID-19.
The statement by the spokesman of the NAF, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said the donor partners supported the West African regional bloc to alleviate the impactof the pandemic on their peoples.
Leader of the ECOWAS Delegation and Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Mrs. Finda Koroma, at the kick-starting of the airlift of the relief materials at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, said the need for essential medical supplies became necessary to enable ECOWAS countries to cope with the increasing cases of infection in the wake of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She added that the first ECOWAS support to member-states was in August 2020 and the efforts helped in ameliorating the shortages experienced in some vital materials required to curb the spread of the pandemic.
She thanked the government of Nigeria and the ECOWAS COVID-19 champion, President Muhammadu Buhari, for the logistics support to ECOWAS in the airlift of the relief materials.
Koroma thanked the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, for the approval given for the NAF C-130 aircraft to distribute the items to ECOWAS countries.
In his remarks, Amao, who was represented by the NAF’s Director of Operations, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Ayoola Jolasinmi, stated that the NAF considered the airlifting of the items a privilege and a worthy contribution to a noble cause.
While assuring the ECOWAS Commission of NAF’s commitment towards the success of the operation, he reiterated NAF’s readiness to always fulfill its constitutional role of “military assistance to civil authority” whenever called upon to do so.
The statement said 4,000 kilogrammes of relief materials, which included laboratory diagnostic kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), intensive care equipment as well as miscellaneous medical accessories would be airlifted by a seven-man C-130 aircraft crew.