By NBF News

Forty years after the foundation of the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Kaduna, its primary objective of fast technological breakthrough is being threatened by obsolete equipments of 20 years old.

But, the Commandant, Air Vice Marshal John Oshoniyi, said he would revolutionize the institute with modernized equipment to meet international standard, just as he appealed to the relevant authorities to live up to their financial obligations to the academy. Excerpts:

Can we meet you sir?
I am Air Vice Marshal John Olusola Oshoniyi of the Nigerian Air force, and by the special grace of God, the Commandant Airforce Institute of Technology (AFIT), Kaduna. Like any other person, I have gone through the requisite primary, secondary and tertiary education. In the military I did the same, I started from the Nigeria Military school, Zaria. From there, I went to Nigeria Defence Academy, and from there I went to the Royal Airforce College, Cranfield, United Kingdom for my aircraft engineering course, and then after, I was interpreted on some military aircrafts, starting from outside Jetty aircraft which is based in Kainji, and I was also interpreted on mission 21, Russia aircraft, and L29, an aircraft from Yugoslavia in those days. I have also had working experience on the C130 aircraft.

In terms of professional education, I was in Command and Staff College, Jaji, Nigerian Division Staff course, I also sat for my senior division Command and Staff course. These are the professional military courses, and I capped it all with attendance at National Defence course, Abuja where I had my Fellow of War College (FWC). And like everybody, if you finish from a school, and you did well, I was recommended as a teacher, what we call directing Staff in Armed Forces and Staff College where I served for about four years as a teacher. And when I finished from National Defence College too, I was also called there as a teacher, and I served there as a teacher, National Defence College, and that is why you might see against my name, PSC in bracket, they call it dagga, and you might see, FWC, Fellow of War College in bracket, they call it dagga, that is for somebody who had gone into those two places as lecturer. So basically, that is the Air Vice Marshal John Olusola Oshoniyi.

Situation on ground at AFIT
I must commend the efforts of the founding fathers of this institute, the past commandants, and the immediate past Commandant, Air Commodore N E Offor. I met on ground facilities, personnel and human capacity. What we have been trying to do is to improve on what we met. In the area of academies, we have been able to attract two scholars from overseas. They came here under the umbrella of National Universities Commission

These are the people the NUC arranged to come to rub off on the educational sector of the country and AFIT happened to be one of those institutions that benefit. We able to attract them to us because we believe that they can assist in curriculum development with their experience back in UK, and they have been of tremendous help since they came. That is one area.

Another area is that we have been able to get the Director General of LUTAN to establish an office here. This office is called IPTTO (Intellectual Property and Technological Transfer Office). Whatever invention we come up with from AFIT, it will be protected by this office, and indeed, the entire Nigerian Air Force. We have worked closely with National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to sustain the accreditation of our courses. We also need to improve the welfare of our people, their working environment, workshops, and offices and where they live.

The challenges are the threatening obsolete state of equipment. Some of the equipment we have been here for more than 20 years, and everyday there are scientific breakthroughs. We need to modernize our equipment. The second problem is in the area of human capacity, the resource persons. Because of the height we are taking AFIT to, we need to get quality manpower. We have tried as much as possible to attract some, but we still need more. So, these are the two major areas.

The infrastructural development is an ongoing thing. For instance, hostel accommodation and a more befitting auditorium. So we are making effort to tell the council to approve building of a befitting auditorium, hostel for students and befitting staff quarters.

Making AFIT popular
We have realized that there is need for publicity. My boss, Chief of the Air Staff believes so much in advocacy, and advocacy means interacting with other agencies of government and nongovernmental organizations. We will continue to partner with the media because we believe they are people that can project our image. We will try as much as possible to improve on publicity.

HQs efforts towards AFIT
Part of the efforts the Headquarters has made is by facilitating our MoU with Cranfield University, it is a period of five years. The Nigerian Air Force on the yearly basis, takes 10 and 12 students to Cranfield University for Masters in Aerospace related subjects. These students are rubbing off positively on the logistics improvement of the NAF aircraft fleet. These are the same students that commenced the Command Aerial Vehicle. The NAF had assisted in the workshop we are building now.

On a lighter mood, have you ever had an opportunity to fly an aircraft?

No, I have not. There are a lot of criteria to make you a pilot. You go to the medical to find out whether you have the aptitude etc etc. A lot of people will come in and they will be screened. Only very few people that passed through the strict screening exercise will make it to the ground space to start flying.

Why did you choose the Air Force?
I grew up from the Nigerian Military School (NMS), my secondary education was at the Military School, Zaria. So already I was in the military circle. I chose the Air Force because it encourages intellectual development. It is a highly technical service.

If you were not an Air Force Officer, what would you have been?

I would have been a doctor, a medical doctor.