At the hand-over ceremony of the six alpha jets and one Hercules C-130 plane to the Federal Government by the Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Servicing Limited (AETSL) in partnership with Sabena Air of France at NAF 401 ACMD in Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, the Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada said the decision to service the aircrafts in the country was a step in the right direction as it not only saves hard earned foreign exchange for the country but will aid in tackling the nation’s security challenges.
“It’s a great day, not just for Nigeria but for the Nigerian Air Force”, she said.
“For the very first time ever, we have had a successful periodic maintenance of our aircraft in-country without having to carry them out to other countries for maintenance.”
She added that the aircrafts which are already in use and “flying very well” is the start of great things to come in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda which places emphasis on development and patronage of local content.
According to Erelu Obada, “Now many of our engineers have worked on these aircrafts. They are acquiring knowledge; that means we can now go ahead and maintain and reactivate many other aircrafts that have been more or less moribund – we can bring them back to life.”
She added that with this latest development, “we are gaining expertise, we are gaining knowledge, we are saving Nigeria hard-earned foreign exchange and we are all the happier for it, to God be the Glory”.
In his reaction, Commander of the 99 Air Tactical Combat Group, Kainji, AVM Olutayo Oguntoyinbo said the days of redundancy for fighter pilots are over as they can now practice their profession.
In his words, “As a fighter pilot, you want to be in the air. That is where you should be but without the aircraft, you can’t fly but now that we have the aircraft, we could practice our profession. We can do what we are meant to do”.