NIGERIA’S federal government is planning to establish an aerospace university to address the challenges of qualified and specialised manpower in the nation’s aviation sector and get the industry operating up to international standards.
Despite having the largest number of travelling customers on the African continent, Nigeria has always had a troubled aviation industry. Former national carrier Nigeria Airways collapsed in 2003, leaving behind huge debts and a backlog of salary and pension arrears in what was one of the worst cases of corruption ever seen in the country.
From the mid 1980’s, the airline’s accounts were not audited, it did not replace its planes and its aircraft were regularly seized abroad to pay for debts. In addition, Nigeria does not have a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility, meaning all aircraft that operate in the country have to be serviced abroad.
Pointing out that the government is committed to addressing all these concerns, aviation minister Hadi Sirika, said: “Believe me, civil aviation alone can sustain our economy. Ethiopia is half-Nigeria, they have 85m people and their major source of income and economy is Ethiopian Airlines, so, civil aviation alone can actually run an economy.”
“However, we have seen that we are not producing anything out of civil aviation and all the ventures in the country keep collapsing, which we attribute that to the lack of capacity to manage. So, we are going to establish the institution in partnership with the International Civil Aviation Organization other friendly countries and some universities around the world.
“It will be a world-class university and there is a small team working on it now. We have submitted our concept notes to the Nigerian Universities Commission and it is being attended to.
“I think this university will come up very soon, before the end of the year. The minister of the Federal Capital Territory has given us the land and it will be half online and half real-time studies.”
On the proposed national carrier for the country, the minister revealed that it would come on board in 2022. According to Mr Sirika, all is being done to make air transportation more affordable for citizens, through an improvement of facilities and services.