The idea of establishing an Air Force for Nigeria was first mooted in 1961 following the nation's participation in peacekeeping operations in Congo and Tanganyika (now Tanzania). During these peacekeeping operations, foreign Air Forces Aircraft were employed to airlift the Nigerian Army Regiment to and from the theatres of operation. The Nigerian Government at the time, no doubt, recognised the urgent need to establish an Air Force, actively supported by modern facilities, to provide a full complement of forces to enhance the nation's military posture. Early in 1962, the Government agreed, in principle, that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) be established.

The Nigerian Parliament therefore, approved the establishment of the NAF and recruitment of cadets commenced in June 1962. Consequently, the NAF was officially established by a statutory Act of Parliament in April 1964 to serve four main purposes namely:

a. To achieve a full complement of the military defence system of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, both in the air and on the ground.

b. To ensure fast versatile mobility of the Armed Forces.

c. To provide close support for the ground-based and seaborne forces in all phases of operations and ensure the territorial integrity of a united Nigeria.

d. To give the country the deserved prestige that is invaluable in international matters.


It was in 1962 that drive for the required manpower for the planned air force started. Simultaneous with this development, Government was in dialogue with some friendly nations on the possibility of training NAF personnel in various specialist fields. The first batch of 10 cadets was enlisted in 1962 to undergo training with the Ethiopian Air Force. The second set of 16 cadets was enlisted in February 1963 to undergo training with Royal Canadian Air Force while 6 cadets were sent to the Indian Air Force. The stage thus became set for the in-country training of NAF personnel. Consequently, several countries were approached but the lot fell on the German Air Force to provide technical assistance for the local training of NAF personnel and this materialised in 1963.


While the NAF was still in its infancy as a fighting force, the laudable plans made by the German Air Force Assistance Group were prematurely put to test barely three years after its establishment. The relatively inexperienced NAF assumed the role of a well-established Air Force in order to prosecute the Nigerian Civil War in close collaboration with sister Services. At this stage of its existence, the NAF was only equipped with a few aircraft. As the war progressed, some fighter aircraft such as MiG 15 and MiG 17 were acquired to help bring the war to a speedy end.


The Nigerian Civil War came to an end in 1970 and there was the need to re-organize the NAF and upgrade its equipment. In order to strengthen itself, the NAF acquired additional aircraft types of advanced technology between 1981 and 1990. With the acquisition of new weapon platforms, there was a need to train personnel to man and maintain the new aircraft types. This led to the re-organization of training in all aspects of NAF specialties.  


Following the expansion of the NAF over time and the need to enforce all international laws and conventions relating to space activities within the Nigerian airspace, on 23 August 1994, the Federal Government promulgated decree 105 (Armed Forces Amendment Decree), which provided additional roles for the NAF.

These additional roles include:

a. Enforcing and assisting in coordinating the enforcement of  international laws, conventions, practices and customs ascribed and acceded to by Nigeria relating to  aerial or space activities within the Nigerian airspace.

b. Coordinating and enforcing all national and international air laws acceded or ascribed to by Nigeria and

c. Delineating, demarcating and coordinating all aerial surveys and security zones of the Nigerian airspace.




Born in Enugu on 14 September 1965, Air Marshal Oladayo Isiaka Amao, is an indigene of Oshogbo Local Government Area in the State of Osun, South West Nigeria. He joined the Armed Forces of Nigeria as a Cadet of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 35 in January 1984 and, upon completion of his training at the Academy, was commissioned a Pilot Officer in the Nigerian Air Force in December 1986. In an illustrious career spanning over three and a half decades, the distinguished senior officer has served in diverse roles cutting across Operational, Instructional, Command, Staff, Diplomatic, Policy and Strategic Leadership functions.


Operationally, as a seasoned Fighter Instructor Pilot on the Alpha Jet, Air Vice Marshal Amao served as a Squadron Pilot at the 99 (now 407) Air Combat Training Group Kainji. He subsequently worked as an Instructor Pilot at both the 301 (now 401) Flying Training School Kaduna and the 303 (now 403) Flying Training School Kano, with over 1,500 Jet and Instructional Hours to his credit. Notable in his operational experiences are his participation in the draw-down of the Africa-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), as well as the counter-insurgency Operations ZAMAN LAFIYA and LAFIA DOLE in the North East of Nigeria. His Command experiences cover the spectrum from the tactical, through the operational to the strategic levels, endowing him with a holistic appreciation of the complexities of leading a fighting force. Significantly in this regard, he commanded the 407 Air Combat Training Group Kainji and the 75 (now 103) Strike Group Yola. He went on to become Air Component Commander for both Operation ZAMAN LAFIYA and Operation LAFIYA DOLE, also serving as Deputy Theatre Commander for the latter. In these roles, he oversaw a synergistic employment of Air Power to effectively support land forces in sustaining stabilization operations across the North East Theatre. The Air Vice Marshal then rose to the position of Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command, the lead combat element (often referred to as the “teeth”) of the Nigerian Air Force.


In terms of Staff experience, Air Marshal Amao was privileged to serve in critical capacities which enabled him to contribute significantly to development of the Service whilst acquiring unique perspectives and insights which have shaped his strategic thoughts. He was, at various times; Air Assistant to the Chief of the Air Staff, Assistant Director of Operations, Director of Policy, Director of Training as well as Director of Operations, all at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. This rich bouquet of Strategic-level Staff experiences instilled in him a deep appreciation of developmental imperatives of the Service.


Moreover, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao possesses a keen understanding of international relations as they affect defence matters, acquired through service as Deputy Defence Adviser and Acting Defence Adviser at the Nigerian High Commission in London, United Kingdom. In the area of Policy and Strategic Leadership, he has developed vital competencies in the course of his service as Chief of Training and Operations and subsequently Chief of Policy and Plans at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. Most recently, until his appointment as the Twenty First Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Amao was the Commandant of the Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Oshodi, a key institution tasked with the responsibility of training and empowering military personnel for post-service re-integration into the civil society.


Air Marshal Oladayo Amao is decorated, amongst others, with the Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguished Service Star and General Service Star, in addition to the General Service Medal and the River Benue Star, which were awarded for his service in various military campaigns. He has also been privileged to benefit from strategic leadership development training in notable indigenous and international institutions; he is an alumnus of the prestigious Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji-Nigeria as well as the Defence Services Staff College Wellington, India. He is a Fellow of the National Defence University of China and holds a Master of Science in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras India as well as a Master of Military Science and Strategy from the National Defence University China. He is also a certified aircraft accident investigator trained in Karachi, Pakistan and at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria, Nigeria as well as being a Qualified Flying Instructing (QFI).


Air Marshal Oladayo Isiaka Amao is happily married to Mrs Elizabeth Olubunmi Amao, and the union is blessed with 3 sons. At his leisure, he enjoys reading, dancing and travelling as well as playing volleyball and golf. He also has a keen interest in fish farming.

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