The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the airlift of COVID-19 medical relief materials donated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with the support of donor partners like Team Europe, the German government, United Nations Development Programme & Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ.

A statement by the Director of NAF Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet said the relief materials are in response to the spread of the second wave of COVID-19, and will be distributed to the 14-member nations of ECOWAS, including Nigeria.

The leader of the ECOWAS delegation and Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Ms Finda Koroma, while flagging off the airlift of the relief materials at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, on Tuesday, March 30, stated that the need for essential medical supplies became necessary to enable ECOWAS countries to cope with increasing cases of infection, as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase especially in West Africa.

Ms Koroma noted that the first ECOWAS support to member-states of critically needed medical supplies was in August 2020, adding that the efforts went a long way to cushion the shortages experienced in some vital materials required to curb the spread of the pandemic.

She expressed gratitude to the government of Nigeria for the logistics support to ECOWAS in the airlift of the relief materials, and the NAF for their unfailing willingness to be on hand to provide airlift support whenever called upon.

The express approval given by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, for the NAF C-130 aircraft to undertake the mission of distributing the items to ECOWAS countries also earned her applause.

In his remarks at the event, Amao, represented by the Director of Operations, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Ayoola Jolasinmi, stated that the 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, comprising laboratory diagnostic kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), intensive care equipment as well as miscellaneous medical accessories will be airlifted by a seven-man C-130 aircraft crew.