The Managing Director of Bristow Helicopters,Segun Oni, has
expressed concern over the dearth of indigenous young aviators that could take
up the jobs that are given to foreigners.
Oni who stated this while speaking with newsmen said the
situation was unpalatable, adding that the Nigeria College of Aviation
technology (NCAT), Zaria and that of Ilorin were grossly inadequate to cater
for manpower development of the aviation industry in the country.
“We are almost in a crisis situation. Training will remain a
challenge until we build the organisations that will do it. How many people can
you train in Zaria? And how many people can you train in the school in Ilorin,
and the school in Ilorin is struggling already. Where else can you take them to
in Nigeria? The Nigeria Air-force used to train people and put them out, but
they are now struggling”, he said.
He maintained that the only way to overcome this major
challenge was for the government to take an urgent step by building more
training schools or by encouraging the private sector to do so, adding that
every tier of government should also sponsor their bright youths to aviation
schools both in Nigeria and aboad.
“The manpower challenge is a crisis waiting to happen. The
former AIB (Accident Investigation Bureau) Commissioner, Sam Oduselu drew
attention to it in a conference last year. At the end, we produced white papers
but somebody has dumped the white paper already”, he said.
The Bristow Helicopter boss noted that the schools at Zaria
and Ilorin could not train the high number of pilots and engineers that was
required in the country, saying “that is why many Nigerians have to travel out
of the country to train as pilots”.
Any other person who wants to train has to go to South
Africa; if they can get visa they go to America, if they can get visa they go
to UK and that is very limited these days. These days the East African airlines
are doing better; Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines are beginning to have
the schools, why can’t we do the same?
“So if you depend on Zaria to produce the manpower that we
need in Nigeria with the limited resources that they have there, then we have a
long way to go”, he said.