By Chuks Okoh
The grand patron of Nigerian Professional Pilots ( NPP), Captain Nogie Meggison has called on the Federal Government to put in a place a proactive policy that will address the projected 500 Nigerian licensed pilots that are unemployed .
He said the number of unemployed pilots is increasing from the current 200 to an astronomical number when the over 100 student pilots’ sent to Jordan by the Kano
State government would graduate later this year.
Meggison spoke in an interview in Lagos . This is in addition to the 52 youths trained under the Federal Government Amnesty programme as well as the fresh batches 100 graduating from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology ( NCAT), and the 40 from International Aviation College ( IAC), in Ilorin, Kwara State .
Capt Meggison said unless something fast is done, such development constitutes a disincentive to the growth and development of the Nigerian aviation industry .
He said well over 400 Nigeria licensed aircraft engineers are also out of job, urging the Federal Government to put in place an employment policy that would ensure these aviation professionals are engaged by both indigenous and foreign carriers operating in the country .
According to him, though, some domestic carriers have done well and are engaging some of the pilots but there still room for improvement .
He said an enabling policy that would check the influx of foreign pilots and engineers by foreign carriers.He said there are over 1,000 foreign pilots engaged by both local and foreign registered airplane flying in Nigeria .
He stated that apart from the 1,000 foreign pilots , there are over 500 foreign aircraft engineers employed in the country .
He said :” The government should compel foreign carriers to set up a line station for aircraft maintenance in the country and employ local engineers to assist in turning around the growth of the sector . They should look into other avenues also, if policies are not put in place the challenge of unemployment of pilots and engineers may not be resolved as soon as possible
He added that “It is shameful that Nigerian licensed youth pilots are now driving ” kabu ” ” Kabu ” to make ends meet . This is totally unacceptable .! Not that there’re no jobs but jobs at taken by foreigner
“Over the years , the aviation industry has grown . About six years ago , the number of private jets has increased from 20 to 150.
Even, commercial airplanes have grown from 20 to 100, but it has not reflected to the employment of our youths, who are trained as pilots.”
He said it was time the Federal Government implemented the local content policies in the aviation sector to create room for the employment of indigenous professionals , as it the practice in most parts of the world.
Meggison cited examples from India , Cameroon , Russia and Egypt where policies exist that prescribe that on every airplane cockpit there must be a national passport holder inside.
” For any aircraft that is flying in such countries,whether local or foreign registered, once the airplane has stayed in the country for more 30days it must comply to cockpit laws.”
He said apart from the implementation of the policy , another way to generate jobs for indigenous professionals is the establishment of aircraft maintenance centres.
Meggison said :” Government needs a policy to create avenues for qualified youths to get employment in the aviation sector .About 2000 skilled professional jobs can be created in first year , while 5000 skill jobs could be created by the next three years easily . One of the ways of getting this achieved is to compel foreign airlines to opening of aircraft maintenance line station in Nigeria, where aircraft engineers could be employed .
” We need policies to drive employment of both indigenous pilots and aircraft engineers .
This is the practice in other countries of the world, government creates a conducive policy to drive employment of key aviation professionals. In countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt, their governments have perfected plans on how to use their aviation sector to create jobs for their youths
This explains why these countries now export skilled aviation professionals including pilots, aircraft engineers , cabin crew ,quality assurance mangers and technicians to other parts of the world .There is no reason Nigeria with her over estimated 170 million population should be exporting skilled aviator to other parts of year world .
If one of every five black man is a Nigerian why can’t We produce one aviation professional out of every five African aviator . Government needs to address this problem. Even, the last batch of 30 aircraft engineers that graduated from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT),not even one is yet to get jobs.
Whereas , there are over 500 foreign aircraft engineers working in Nigeria. Most of
the foreign carriers are putting flying spanners (engineers ) on board in the
business class to fly to Nigeria instead of setting up a line station .
There is need for government policies to make them open line maintenance stations to provide hands on job training for Nigerians youths . So that they can gradually start transferring skill to our Nigerian youths on board any Emirates or Qatar Airways flight, there is always other nationals from other countries who are aviation professionals exported to other countries . Whereas Nigeria with her vast population is nowhere to be found on the international aviation scene .
It’s high time we created jobs for youths in the aviation sector .”
By Chuks Okoh