Two officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Flight Lieutenants Jerreck Jeff Dwanah and Varney Adolphus Sieleaf have become the first two post-war certified pilots.
The two officers were part of a winging ceremony in which 12 other officers of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) received their certificates at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Air Force in Abuja on Monday, April 16, 2018.
The total of 14 graduates recently completed their basic flying training at the International Aviation College in Ilorin, Nigeria and Afrika Union Aviation Academy in South Africa respectively.
Upon their return to Liberia, the two officers will pioneer the establishment of the Liberia Air Wing. Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Liberia, retired Major General Daniel Dee Ziankahn, Jr., extended gratitude on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, President George Manneh Weah, and lauded the people and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the many sacrifices they continue to make in resuscitating Liberia to a peaceful country after nearly fourteen years of civil crisis.
General Ziankahn acknowledged the role played by the Government of Nigeria in the restructuring process of the post war AFL that saw the seconding of two of its finest Major Generals, the late Maj Gen Luka N. Yusu, and the late Maj Gen Suraj A. Abdurrahman, who served subsequently as Command Officer-in-Charge of the AFL during its rebranding process and progressively brought the AFL to where it is as a professional army dubbed as a “Force for Good”.
The Liberia Defense Boss hailed the long-standing bilateral ties between Liberia and the Federal Republic of Nigeria that resulted to the promotion of cultural, diplomatic and military relationships.
“We are humbly soliciting for the training of air and ground crew when the Liberia Air Wing is eventually established. We will require your support, guidance and mentorship for the establishment and operation of the Liberia Air Wing,” Minister Ziankahn said.
Earlier, Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall SB Abubakar thanked Liberia for the confidence it placed in Nigeria that allowed the Federal Republic to train the post-war country’s first pilots.
“That’s a demonstration of the strong ties between our two countries”, Air Marshall Abubakar added.He also charged the graduating pilots to be prepared for the tasks ahead as they fit into the flying environment: “I urged you to not forget the 3D’s: Drive, Discipline and Desire”.
Liberia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Professor Al-Hassan Conteh and Liberia’s Defense Minister, Honorable Daniel D. Ziahkahn, Jr joined several high profiled Nigerian Air Force and Defense personnel for the winging ceremony that officially certificated the two pilots from Liberia and 12 others from Nigeria, the release says.
It can be historicized that on August 23, 2007, the Governments of the Republic of Liberia and the Federal Republic of Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding for military-to-military relations in the rebuilding and professional development of the AFL.
In the actualization of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the two officers were part of eights cadets that departed Liberia in 2007 to undergo a four-year regular combatant degree course at the prestigious Nigerian Defense Academy, Kaduna, Nigeria.
They commenced their pilot training at the Nigerian Airforce 301 Flying Training School in Kaduna following their graduation as members of 60th Regular Course from the Nigerian Defence Academy in September 2013.
Upon completion of their training at the Nigerian Airforce Training School, the Liberian Government made a passionate appeal for further training. This appeal subsequently saw their enrollment at the Nigerian International Aviation College in IIorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.
According to the 2008 New Defense Act, section 5.1, the Liberia Air Wing when activated will undertake search and rescue missions; provide limited air transportation for the movement of troops and logistics for the AFL; undertake medical evacuation; undertake limited marine patrol over Liberian Exclusive Economic Zone and assist government ministries and agencies in times of emergency and natural or man-made disasters as well as assist in the evacuation and logistics movement.