.... “This is a friendship that Nigeria demonstrated to assist Liberia in one of the most trying moments in history. Nigeria is prepared to assist Liberia in the re-establishment of its AFL Air Wing because the need for the reactivation of the AFL Air Wing is crucial,” the Director of Training at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Air Force and head of the Nigerian delegation, Francis Ogbejele Edosa, said.
A six-man delegation of the Nigeria Air Force has assessed various facilities and held meetings with stakeholders aimed at helping for the possible reestablishment and activation of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Air Wing.
The National Defense Act of 2008 Section 2.2 authorized that the New AFL shall comprise the Army, Coast Guard, and the Air Wing and such other components that shall be established by an Act of the Legislature.
The Army and Coast Guard are currently operational, while the Air Wing is still in the formative stage, and it is based on this that the AFL solicited the technical expertise of ECOWAS countries, especially the Nigeria Air Force.
The Director of Training at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Air Force and head of the Nigerian delegation, Francis Ogbejele Edosa, said Nigeria remains committed to the growing relationship with Liberia and will continue to work to strengthen it.
“Nigeria and Liberia have a special relationship and such that we say a friend in need is a friend indeed. This is a friendship that Nigeria demonstrated to assist Liberia in one of the most trying moments in history. Nigeria is prepared to assist Liberia in the re-establishment of its AFL Air Wing because the need for the reactivation of the AFL Air Wing is crucial,” Edosa said.
“This is just the beginning of our existing ties because our mission here is to interact with key leaders and have an honest assessment of the structures available. Based on our visit to places including Liberia Airport Authority and Liberia Aviation Authority and others, we have a firsthand assessment of what is on the ground,” he added.
He said the idea of reactivating the AFL Air Wing is very important as it helps to achieve the full component of the AFL and helps to make the AFL operate beyond its scope today. “Having an air wing will not only satisfy the military authority but will help to strengthen future military security.”
Edosa noted that the Nigerian government has approved the training of two AFL officers in addition to those who completed the training.
The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, Major General Prince C. Johnson III, said the reactivation of the AFL Air Wing will help to support both military and civil activities including transporting election materials as well.
“To fulfill the military defense act of 2008, we reached out to our counterparts in ECOWAS and today we have an assessment team from Nigeria and Liberia honored. The need for reactivation of our Air Wing is so critical based on the strategic objective that we can support civil activities and we thought of tapping on the expertise of the Nigerian Air Force and the Ghanaian Air Force,” Johnson said.
He added that it is not a one, two, or three-year process to have it completed, but Liberia is poised to reestablish the AFL Air Wing, stating. “Liberia needs manpower, equipment and maintenance of the equipment and we are seriously working toward it.”
Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs, Sam Collins, said the initiative is a result of engagements by Chief of Staff, Major General Prince C. Johnson III, outside of Liberia and craved for more of those engagements.
“The relations between Liberia and Nigeria have come a long way and even in the rural part of Liberia, our people are aware of the positive relations or engagements and they always reference the Nigeria Alpha Jet. And so today, they are here to help us,” Collins said.
Collins said the groundwork is being done to ensure the re-establishment of the AFL Air Wing and Liberia remains committed to the process. “We, too, want to have our Air Wing.”
The Liberian Air Wing was established by an Act of Legislature on August 12, 1987, with its statutory responsibilities to protect and defend the air space of Liberia, protect lives and properties, provide air mobility for military and civil personnel, and assist in search and rescue operations.
As a result of the Civil War, all aircraft, equipment, materials and facilities belonging to the Liberian Air Wing were badly damaged, rendering the force inoperable.