**VP also graces funeral of Pa Diri, Bayelsa Gov’s father
In a bid to further enhance its capacity to tackle contemporary challenges, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has charged the Nigerian Air Force to expand its collaborations with the academia, think-tanks and further earn the confidence of the nation and the respect of the international community.
This is in addition to what the Force is already doing leveraging internal capacity to innovate and deploy emerging technologies for its operations.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this while speaking as the Special Guest of Honour at the Ceremonial Parade and Induction Ceremony organised as part of activities marking the 59th Anniversary of the Nigerian Air Force in Enugu over the weekend.
“I am aware, from discussions with the Chief of Air Staff that collaborations with our universities and research institutes are growing. There is a great amount of potential waiting to be unleashed from these partnerships.
“I, therefore, charge you to continue to work to earn the confidence of the nation and the respect of the international community, as you protect lives and property, neutralizing all existing and emerging national security threats.
“I would like to urge greater cooperation and mutual trust between the various arms of the Armed Forces, even while maintaining the healthy spirit of competition that underpins innovation and increased efficiency,” the VP added.
Continuing, he said, “of course, this must be situated within the general context of a greater emphasis on local capacity-building by the Nigerian Armed Forces, with developments like the establishment of a Nigerian Army University and the revitalization of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) serving as testaments to this renewed emphasis.”
Commending the management team of the Air Force for its recent accomplishments, Prof. Osinbajo praised the farsightedness of the Chief of Air Staff which “was instrumental to the renewed focus and self-reliance in the Nigerian Air Force.”
According to him “we are seeing an Air Force that is increasingly confident about its ability and capacity to innovate and to deploy locally developed technology.
“This is manifesting in various ways, from the locally-developed operational Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, TSAIGUMI, which the President formally inducted into service in February 2018, to the collaborative work being done at the Air Force Research and Development Centre in Kaduna to produce the first-ever made-in-Nigeria aircraft.”
Speaking further about boosting the operational capacity of NAF and other Forces, the VP noted that “it is an irreducible minimum and should always be the main responsibility of all legitimate governments.”
According to him, “the resolve of our Armed Forces and the invaluable contributions of other security agencies in fully containing the security challenges in some parts of the nation are noted and commended.
“The contributions of the Nigerian Air Force in addressing the security challenges of armed banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping in the North West and North Central, in conjunction with other security agencies, have equally started to yield positive results.”
Prof. Osinbajo then highlighted the Federal Government’s commitment to prioritising professionalism in the military since the assumption of the Buhari administration in 2015.
His words: “As a country, we are particularly proud that in less than 4 years, we were able to revitalize our Armed Forces. In keeping with his promise that as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, he would prioritize the restoration of professionalism in the military to enable them effectively discharge their responsibilities, President Buhari ensured that substantial investments were made in acquiring new platforms and other support equipment for the military and other security agencies, as well as reactivating and upgrading existing platforms.”
Continuing, he said, “in the last four years, the administration acquired new air platforms for the Nigerian Air Force such as the JF-17 Thunder Multirole Fighter Aircraft, the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, DA-62 aircraft, T-129 Attack Helicopter, Beechcraft aircraft and unmanned aerial systems. The Air Force has also reactivated several aircrafts.
“It is also worthy of note that the procurement process for military hardware has been reviewed, to remove inefficiency. For example, the procurement process for the purchase of the 12 Super Tucano aircraft in 2018, was done through a transparent, first-of-its-kind Government-to-Government deal with the United States of America.
“It is evident that the huge investments in the capacity development of the Nigerian Air Force have helped to turn the tide against terrorists and other violent non-state actors in our nation.”
From Enugu, the Vice President proceeded to Bayelsa State where he joined other dignitaries to attend the funeral service for Pa Abraham Diri, the father of Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, held at the St. Peters Anglican Church Sampou, Bayelsa State.
The Vice President was received on arrival at the Yenagoa Airport by the Deputy Governor, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo and other State Government Officials.
In his remarks, the VP noted that the celebration of the life and times of Pa Diri by Nigerians from different walks of life was a testimony to the fact there is profit in all honest and diligent labour.
According to him, the late Pa Diri ” was an exemplary teacher, public servant, lay reader in the church and community leader, when he was teaching here in Sampou and I also believe in Ekeremor LGA, and other places in Delta State where he taught and impacted lives and brought up the children of so many, nurturing the promises and aspirations of thousands of young men and women.
“He certainly didn’t know that the day would come, I’m sure if he would have been asked how did he think his death would be celebrated, he would have thought it would be a very humble one.
“At least many years ago, certainly, he would never have imagined that the whole of Nigeria would be gathered here to celebrate him.
“But that is a lesson that we learn from scripture, the bible says that in all labour there is profit, Proverbs 14:23. All the labours, decent, honest, doing the right things, as a teacher and a mentor to many, the reward came.
“Not just in his son becoming the governor but look at the array of individuals today who celebrate this humble teacher. So, we bless the Lord for his life. Bless the Lord for the testimony of such a great life,” he continued.
Prof. Osinbajo gave thanks to God “for the examples of people like Pa Diri who did the right things, served their communities well, built men and women of substance.”
He condoled the Diri family on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Earlier in his sermon, the Archbishop of the Province of the Niger Delta, Anglican Communion, His Grace, the Most Revd Blessing Enyindah, admonished leaders about the life of impact, urging them to always utilise opportunities in office to touch the lives of the average citizens.
He said, “the life you are living now and the opportunity you are given now, use it well to the Glory of God and the benefit of the people and in a moment like this, when you will be laid to rest like our father here, you will rest in the bosom of our Lord.”
In separate remarks, former President Dr Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa thanked the VP and other guests for honouring the memory and legacies of the late Pa Abraham Diri.
Dignitaries at the event included the wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo; former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, Ahmed Wase, Governors Darius Ishaku of Taraba State; Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; Ademola Adeleke of Osun State; former Governors Sen. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa and Peter Obi of Anambra, and former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
There were also members of the National Assembly and members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and the State Executive Council, among others.