By Ashie Osor

The efforts of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River state to create an alternative economy for his state received a huge boost Tuesday when the Nigerian Air Force announced it was partnering the state government for the production uniforms for its personnel at the state garment factory.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said in Calabar during a courtesy  visit to the governor that the decision to source Air force uniforms locally was  in line with President Muhammadu Buhari's directives to the Nigerian armed forces to lay emphasis on local content.

The Airforce Chief who was later conducted round some of the factories at the Ayade industrial park, including the Garment factory, 

expressed amazement at the sheer size and sophistication of the factory.

While assuring that the Air force will henceforth make recourse to the Garment factory for its uniforms, the Chief of Air Staff commended governor Ayade for establishing the facility, saying it has provided jobs to thousands of people  thus helping to reduce crime rate in the state.

According to him there is a nexus between unemployment and crime.

His words: "Excellent, amazing. I dont even know how to express my joy that this is happening locally. In the last four year or thereabout, we have brought in about 10000 recruits...assuming we started this partnership much earlier,  and each of these recruits require uniforms- camouflage,  tunic and the normal uniform- so we are talking about over 100,000 pairs of uniforms.

“I am very excited about the opportunity given to me by His Excellency to be here. We are going to send samples of what we require for our officers, our pilots and our recruits to see that we get them done here.

“We are in the state because we think we can benefit from the Cross River Garment factory as we look inward in trying to get all that is required to execute our task. So we are hopeful that at the end of the visit we should be able to work out something with Cross River Garment factory where we can give samples of some of our materials for them to take a look at."

Responding, Governor Ayade assured the Chief of Air Staff that the garment factory will not lower the quality of their uniforms as staff of the factory will be sent oversees for further training.

He expressed gratitude to the Air Marshall Sadique for offering to send Air Force personnel to help with the production of the uniforms.

"In an African clime you would not imagine to see this but the good news is that with over100 000 uniforms to be produced here for the Air force, this factory will be extremely  busy.

“Your uniforms will not suffer poor quality from the factory as the state Garment factory staff will be sent on training.

"We are ready to employ more people who need to go into tailoring and Garment making as a profession to ensure that we fill the factory with competent and capable hands.", the governor said.

He commended President Buhari for insisting on backward integration aimed at encouraging local production of goods.

The Cross River state governor also praised Air Marshall Sadique for embracing local content in kitting and arming the Airforce.

Ayade used the occasion  to make a case for the partnership to be extended to the supply of dry rations in form of energy and vitaminized food packs to the military.

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