Abuja — The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said yesterday the promotion in the military was dependent on establishment vacancies.
Abubakar, who stated this during the decoration ceremony of newly promoted senior officers of the Air Force, told beneficiaries of the exercise that their promotion should translate to additional security for the country.
The Nigerian Air Force last week promoted 99 senior officers as well as decorated 13 new Air Vice Marshals and 35 Air Commodores.
Speaking at the event, Abubakar said the promotion was based on merit, productivity and establishment vacancies.
According to him, "The selection process culminating in promotion is usually a painstaking and exhaustive one. It involves applying stringent criteria for the elevation especially to the prestigious air rank.
"Several qualities and conditions are used to determine an officer's eligibility for promotion. Merit is certainly top of the list of considerations. However, it does not mean that the officers who were not promoted are not fit, most especially at the higher ranks," he said, while noting that "the major constraint is that of establishment vacancies. The NAF can only promote what the establishment and managing provision can conveniently accommodate."
He continued: "Those who have scaled these many hurdles and found themselves in the list of those approved to wear the one end two-star general rank surely have reasons to celebrate."
The Air Force boss maintained that "in the discharge of our professional responsibilities, the demands on members of the Armed Forces are unique.
"It is thus very important that the services are led by persons with good leadership qualities if we must eliminate or minimise costly mistakes during operations."
He said the requirements are higher in the case of the Air Force which he said is a highly technical service.
"I am proud to say that we have found these qualities in the 13 air vice marshals and 35 air commodores we have decorated today (yesterday).
"While it is quite important to note that time on rank would understandably continue to be central, factors such as merit, productivity, establishment vacancy, slots for deployment, and, to some extent, geographical spread, have combined to raise the bar and make the race even more competitive," he said.
Abubakar urged the senior officers to see their promotion as recognition of professionalism, having been entrusted with the capacity to tackle higher responsibilities.