. From R-L: Governor Udom Emmanuel, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar & former Airforce chief, Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok rtd during
Akwa Ibom State Government has advocated for the establishment of a full-fledge Airforce Base to ensure the requisite training of graduates from the Airforce Secondary School in the state.
Governor Udom Emmanuel made the advocacy when the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, led other top brass officers of the Nigerian Airforce to pay a courtesy visit on him, at Government House, Uyo.
The Governor, who commended the Nigerian Airforce on its interest in maintaining qualitative education in its post primary institution in the state, remarked that the establishment of an Airforce Base would afford an opportunity for students from the institution who desire to serve in the Airforce, to fulfill their dreams.
He said “I really want it to be on record that during your tenure as Chief of Air Staff, an Airforce Base was established in Akwa Ibom State, so that when you graduate those brilliant students, they will have Airforce Base to go and train as Airforce Officers, it is called complete value chain.
“Most of them, you could see the way they were smiling, they all want to look like the CAS but how can they, when there is no Airforce Base to go and train to satisfy that desire? Please see what you can do to give us a full-fledged Airforce Base”.
While expressing hope on the fulfillment of promises by the Minister of State on Aviation, to establish a Flight Command Training School in the state, Governor Emmanuel re-echoed his administration’s commitment to the upgrading of facilities at the Akwa Ibom International Airport, saying that apart from upgrading the runway to category 2, the state government has put in place new Instrument Landing System (ILS) to ensure safe landing of aircrafts.
According to the governor, “we invested a lot of money to upgrade the runway and put in new ILS, it’s only that here in Nigeria, we don’t have category 3 runway yet, the day we have, we will also upgrade the one in our airport. We have made provision for normal lighting on the taxiway too but it can only be triggered in cases of emergency so it won’t confuse with the main runway”.
Emmanuel hinted that the Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO) section of the airport will soon commence operations, explaining that arrangement is underway for the state government to partner aircraft maintenance companies with contracts within Aftica to sustain the MRO.
He appreciated the CAS for proposing partnership with the Universities in the State on Research and Development (R&D), announcing that the state government has concluded plans with some International Oil Companies (IOCs) and two Universities in the US.A, to establish a fully equipped Faculty of Engineering to cater for practical training in Engineering at the state owned University.
The State Chief Executive congratulated the Nigerian Airforce helmsman on the extension of service years of all Service Chiefs, by the Presidency, attributing it to the leadership traits and professionalism displayed in the discharge of responsibilities, by the personnel incharge of sensitive institutions in the country.
In his address, the CAS, Air Marshall Abubaker said they were in the state on inspection tour of facilities of the Nigerian Airforce and to appreciate the Akwa Ibom State Government for providing needed support to enhance the proper functioning of the institution in the state, pointing out that the Airforce Comprehensive Secondary school was one of such facilities.
Abubakar indicated the interest of the Nigerian Airforce to secure partnership with the Akwa Ibom State Government, especially in the area of R&D, stating that the Nigerian Airforce has Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 15 Universities in the country to develop capacity for the maintenance of airplanes in their fleet.
He stressed that such collaboration has enabled the Nigerian Airforce to successfully produce some required items to maintain aircrafts, mentioning that the helicopter diaphragm and the Anti-Skid Test Bench, a system used in testing the anti-skid system of a fighter jet, are now produced in Nigeria as against inittial importation of the items.
The CAS noted, “In the past, we used to import these systems but now, in the last four years, we are producing them in Nigeria because of the partnership we have established with the Nigerian Universities”.
He remarked that a team from the Airforce R&D Centre in Kaduna, would soon be despatched to the two Universities in Akwa Ibom, to identify and open up areas of partnership that would also cater for the maintenance challenges of fighter aircrafts and helicopters that are operating in the country.
Earlier, the Governor had accompanied the Chief of Air Staff to commission a newly constructed boys hostel at the Airforce Comprehensive Secondary School, located in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of the state.