The economic downturn in Nigeria has seemingly impacted every sector across the country. The aviation sector is the recent to raise concerns as to how the high exchange rate, aviation cost for fuel and inflation has affected the management of the aviation college. Captain Yakubu Okatahi, the Acting Rector/CEO of the International Aviation College, Ilorin, made this known during an interview, where he solicited for the support of the federal government in contributing to the development of manpower in the sector.
Acting Rector pointed out that some of the challenges that the International Aviation College faced were a modal window. He noted that since they came on board in March 2022, there had been intense challenges but they were not deterred. He explained that they immediately started working on curbing these challenges and since, they have been working hard to continuously improve the situation. One of the many challenges he mentioned was that of students not flying as a result of the paucity of instructors. As a result, the college had to instruct some to stay at home and others in school. He noted that over the last few months however, the college had succeeded in graduating 25 students.
College aiming to self-fund, to avoid over-dependence on government.
Reports were raised about some students remaining in the college after the 17 months required to graduate as a pilot. On this challenge, he also explained that these students were met in the system and the college was working on moving them here and there until they graduated. Captain Yakubu stated that once these students graduate, there would be an opportunity to accommodate new students. While he discussed their plans to introduce a new school fee and no additional fee for students who stay longer than necessary, he promised that the trainings would only take 18-21 months.
The Captain applauded the efforts of the state government for paying for the college’s supervision and salary exactly when due. He also noted that funds required for acquiring spare parts were granted to them. On the number of trainees needed to run the college optimally, he noted that the college had enough tools and instructors to track the current students. He thus noted that there was a basic need for the college to be self-funding, so as not to be overly dependent on the government that is further saddled with being responsible for over eleven other sectors.
Foreign exchange said to affect the operations of the aviation college.
Asked if a state government can effectively fund an aviation college, Captain Yakubu noted that this was dependent on the revenue of the state government. He noted that the state government had the capacity to fund the aviation college. With reference to when they commenced, he further explained that there was enough funds and it was easier for them to solve impending problems but now, the economic downturn however overwhelmed the college. He thus attributed this reason to why some students did not graduate at the appropriate time.
Captain Yakubu indicated that the paucity of foreign exchange had increasingly affected the college’s operations. He explained that they were not getting their foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria but from a second-tier market and as surges arise, the increase in price had hugely affected the operations of the college. On the problem of students staying more than the scheduled 18-21 months, he blamed it on the Covid-19 pandemic which stopped most operations across the world.
FG urged to look into assisting the college with yearly allocations.
He confirmed that presently, the fee was about N12.5 million for piloting, the same amount charged at Zaria. Whilst he disclosed plans for a higher fee, he noted that nothing was decided yet. Compared to other aviation schools, he disclosed that in South Africa, the training was charged at about N28 million which was exclusive to airfares, accommodation and feeding over the span of the training. In America, he stated that the fee was about $40,000. Captain Yakubu however implored the federal government to assist the college with yearly allocations. He also noted that the federal government should look into granting them relief on the fee they pay to customs (duty/taxes) for their imported spare parts.