By Yahaya Isah
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Wednesday in Abuja commenced the airlift of COVID-19 medical relief materials donated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to its 14-member nations.
The donation is with the support of donor partners like Team Europe, the German Government, UNDP and Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
A statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, stated that the items were in response to the spread of the second wave of COVID-19.
The leader of the ECOWAS Delegation and Vice President of the commission, Ms Finda Koroma, said the need for essential medical supplies became necessary to enable ECOWAS countries cope with increasing cases of infection.
This, she noted, as the second wave of the pandemic continue to increase, especially in West Africa.
Koroma recalled that the first ECOWAS support to member states of critically needed medical supplies was in August 2020, and the efforts went a long way in ameliorating the shortages experienced in some vital materials required to curb the spread.
She expressed gratitude to 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 also commended the NAF for its willingness to always be on hand to provide airlift support whenever called upon.
She specifically thanked the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, for the express approval given for the NAF C-130 aircraft to undertake the mission of distributing the items to ECOWAS countries in dire need.
Amao, who was represented by the Director of Operations, Air AVM Ayoola Jolasinmi, said that NAF considered the airlifting of the items a great privilege and 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.
The about 4,000kg relief materials, which include laboratory diagnostic kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), intensive care equipment and miscellaneous medical accessories would be airlifted by a 7-man C-130 aircraft crew.
The NAF has a history of providing aid in the form of airlift to civil authorities.
“In March 2020, it airlifted medical materials donated by the Jack Ma Foundation consisting of 107 boxes of medical supplies and equipment weighing over 1,360kg.
“Similarly, in April 2020, NAF airlifted medical equipment and supplies donated by the Turkish Government from Lagos to Abuja.
“The medical items weighing about 4,000 Kg, were airlifted by a NAF C-130 Hercules aircraft to the Central Storage Facility in Abuja on behalf of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“The same period also witnessed NAF airlifting a team of stranded Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) health officials from Congo Brazzaville, where they had travelled for a World Health Organisation training programme on the management of COVID-19.”
According to the statement, all these efforts are aside the numerous in-country flights organised for officials of the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC and other officials for ease of movement in the conduct of their responsibilities. (NAN)