By Omotilewa Quadri
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha on Friday said President Muhammadu Buhari is desirous of providing a national airline for Nigeria.
While speaking at the 47th convocation ceremony of the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in Kaduna on Friday, Mustapha also tasked the civil aviation sector in the country to be more security conscious in view of the use of airplanes and unmanned aerial vehicles as tools of subversion and crime.
He said that the aviation sector must domesticate its applications and services through active civil military partnerships to ensure total security.
Mustapha noted that AFIT is uniquely positioned to bridge that gap where security and commercialization of aviation meet to expand the frontiers of the industry.
He observed that currently many Nigerian airlines are managed and maintained by foreign personnel, stressing that it would be admirable to have a mostly domestic sector where airline maintenance and operations are handled locally.
The SGF stressed that stakeholders in the industry which include both military and civilians must also engage in joint researches for the manufacture of aviation products and enhancement of quality personnel in airline services.
“Mr. President intends to resuscitate the national carrier. Extensive plans are already underway to achieve this very laudable plan by a President who has the welfare of his people in mind.
“This must be exciting news for AFIT as the workforce for that airline should ideally be more than 60% local.
“Considering the cost of training aviation personnel against the economic realities of Nigeria, the military must be equipped to train and supply personnel to the civil aviation industry.
“AFIT as I stated earlier is poised to achieve milestones which will impact very positively on the industry.
“When Mr. President assented to the bill upgrading AFIT to a university; it must have been with a view to raising globally competitive graduates.”
He told the graduating students to “note that the Federal Government has various youth empowerment initiatives like N-Power and You Win Connect.
“You are all qualified and encouraged to participate in these programmes and use the knowledge acquired here to make a difference in the nation.
“Concerted strategies must be adopted to focus on bridging the knowledge and skills gap of Nigerian aviators in line with international standards.
“One of the policies of Mr. President is to create indigenous technological capacity both in the military and civilian space in Nigeria.”
He urged commercial and civil partners to consider AFIT graduates for employment in their respective organizations to augment Government efforts to reduce the labour market.
In his opening remarks, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadeeq Abubakar said that the Nigeria Air Force is increasing in size, scope of operations and sophistication in the application of technology, as such would utilise the knowledge of the products of yje institute.
The CAS urged the graduating students to “be good ambassadors of AFIT in the discharge of Service duties while also contributing your quota to national development”.
Earlier, AFIT Commandant, AVM Cletus Udeagulu said in the field of research and development, AFIT has produced its first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) named AMEBO., which had also undergone extensive advancements both in design and production.
“It has also provided valuable experience and inputs into other Nigeria Air Force projects such as the GULMA and TSAIGUMI UAVs among others.
“Other notable projects include the Unmanned Ground Vehicle for the Improvised Explosive Device. Following on these, the Institute will today present other various student and staff led research projects for the 2017/2018 academic year.
“Some of the projects include the sun tracker, rocket launcher tester, shock absorber, constructed surveillance airship and fabricated hexacopter among others,” the commandant said.