The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced airlifting thousands of medical materials and other consumables procured by the West African Health Organization (WAHO) for distribution to 14 member nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria inclusive, to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement, said the airlift of the medical supplies was in fulfillment of the promise made by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the ECOWAS COVID-19 Response Coordination “Champion”, that Nigeria would provide logistics support to ensure the items are distributed to all countries in the Sub-Region.
Daramola said the 13 other ECOWAS countries were: 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.
He added that the medical materials, which would be airlifted in 3 phases, included laboratory diagnostic kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), intensive care equipment and miscellaneous medical accessories such as coveralls, masks, face shields, goggles, reagents, viral transport medium, ventilators and oxygen concentrators, amongst others.
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 President Buhari had risen to the occasion as a true Champion who had 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.
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 the Service to a successful operation.
Also present during the flag-off ceremony were the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada; President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou; Director-General, WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo; Director of Operations, HQ NAF, AVM Ayoola Jolasinmi, along with other dignitaries and Government officials.