By Ismaila Chafe
The Federal Government will soon establish an Aerospace University to address the challenges of qualified and specialized manpower in the nation’s aviation sector.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made this known at the weekly ministerial press briefing organized by the Presidential Communication Team led by the President’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Sirika explained that the university would be world class and would collaborate with some famous institutions.
“Believe me, civil aviation alone can sustain our economy. Ethiopia is half-Nigeria, there are 85 million people and their major source of income and economy is Ethiopian Airlines.
“So, civil aviation alone can actually run an economy, it depends on how you do it.
“But we have seen that we are not producing anything out of civil aviation and all the aviation ventures in the country keep collapsing and that has compounded the problem. 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 Organisation (ICAO), other friendly countries and some universities around the world.
“So, 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 FCT has given us the land. It will be half online and half real time studies.”
He expressed optimism that the university when operational would boost activities as well as produce the needed manpower in the aviation sector.
“We started this journey in civil aviation with countries like Brazil.
“We started our own in Zaria in 1963, with a partnership between Nigerian government and the UNDP and since then, till now, we don’t produce even rivets as a nation but Brazil that we started with is now producing all sorts of aircrafts.
“So, we think that we should have a university to go deeply into research and development and create those opportunities within our sector and turn out those young men and women with good brains to go into the venture of aerospace and aviation,” he said.
On the proposed national carrier for the country, the minister revealed that the carrier would come on board in 2022.
He said: “Nigerians should trust that we will be able to deliver a very robust carrier that will be for the size of our economy and we are on course.
“We have almost gone past the project development stage, we have completed the development of the Outline Business Case (OBC), we have got a compliance certificate of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and it is our intention that we will take the OBC back to the Federal Executive Council perhaps by next Wednesday.
“We are on our way. As for the timeline, we will have this airline in 2022 by the grace of God and we will start with the domestic and escalate into international.
“We are discussing and we will get the best deal for Nigeria and Nigerians because for sure, the market is there,” he said.
According to the minister, all is being done to make air transportation more affordable for citizens, through an improvement of facilities and services.
“Nigeria is a country of over 200 million people who are highly mobile. So, what we are doing is first and foremost, to develop the infrastructure that will make civil aviation function.
“And once that is done, it will increase the availability of the service and because there is more supply it will help in bringing down the price,” he said.
He said all the achievements he enumerated were contained in a roadmap developed for the aviation sector, which had since been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. (NAN)