Olatukunbo Adesanya, Uyo: The third edition of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Inter-Command Combat Sports Competition kicked-off yesterday, 3 April 2018, at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The event tagged “Uyo 2018”, will be featuring over 600 participants drawn from the Headquarters NAF (HQ NAF) Abuja and its 6 Commands located in different parts of Nigeria. The participants will be competing in various sporting events including combat boxing, combat swimming, combat relay race, shooting exercise, obstacle crossing, taekwondo, judo as well as tug of war. The competition, which is an annual regimental sporting event, is part of efforts aimed at continually promoting combat fitness and esprit-de-corps among personnel. It is also aimed at enhancing effective service delivery, which can only be achieved when personnel are physically and mentally fit.
While declaring the competition open, the Executive Governor of Cross Rivers State and the Special Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony, Professor Benedict Ayade, who was represented by the Deputy Governor of the State, Professor Ivara Esu, lauded the NAF and its leadership for making the physical fitness of its personnel a priority. He added that it is indeed a smart move as it is virtually impossible to separate efficient service delivery from a sound mind in a sound body. He therefore assured the NAF of the continuous support of the Government and people of Cross River State in ensuring that the NAF continues in its bid to make the country safe for all.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, earlier in his remarks, reiterated the importance of physical fitness to a fighting force. He noted that physical fitness remains the cornerstone of military combat readiness and hence, the NAF leadership’s decision to sustain the annual 10 km walk/jog competition, quarterly route march exercise and the combat sports competition. Air Marshal Abubakar explained further that the willingness of the Service to continue to enforce physical fitness among NAF personnel could be predicated on one of the key drivers of his administration, which focuses on comradeship and regimentation. The CAS then took the opportunity to encourage all Nigerians to be law abiding, as the NAF, while working with other security agencies, would be decisive in dealing with any group that attempts to subvert the Constitution of Nigeria.
The Chief of Administration at Headquarters NAF, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Yahaya, who welcomed dignitaries and participants to the event on behalf of the CAS, explained that the competition would afford the NAF as well as the people of Akwa Ibom the opportunity to interact and sustain the good relationship that had existed between them over the years. He assured all of the integrity of the competition, as it would be officiated by a combination of military and civilian officials from the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Youths and Sports Development.
Shortly after the march past by the various NAF Contingents, which attracted a rousing round of applause from the crowd, the Combat Sports Flag was hoisted while an oath was administered on participants and officiating officials towards ensuing fair play and justice. Meanwhile, the combat relay race took place among the 7 participating teams today to signify the commencement of the competition in earnest. It would be recalled that HQ NAF emerged tops at the 2017 Edition of the Competition and would be hoping to hold onto the title. The Combat Sports Competition is scheduled to end on Friday 6 April 2018, when the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel, is expected to declare it closed in a colourful closing ceremony.