Aviation industry experts have expressed worries over the lack of indigenous skilled technical professionals due to protracted years of poor capacity building, pointing out that an estimated N250 billion is spent annually to pay expatriates who work in the industry.
The President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr. Bernard Olumuyiwa Aliu, who visited Nigeria last week, said despite the achievements record in the infrastructural development of the industry, the objective of safe and secure air transport would be deficient without adequate human capacity building.
Aliu said government must have a defined plan to grow human capacity without, which the sector would continue to remain underdeveloped as airlines and other technical based organisations in the industry would depend on expatriate manpower supply.
Presently major airlines in the country employ expatriates as pilots, engineers, trainers, commercial managers, finance and schedule planners and others.
Also, most of the technical crew of non-schedule helicopter and charter flight companies are expatriates and with the current trend, thousands of jobs are lost to expatriates together with the aforementioned projected emoluments, which are paid in foreign currency and repatriated by these foreigners who spend all their holidays overseas.
Industry analyst, Tayo Ojuri, also said poor capacity building has affected the aviation agencies and curbed efficiency in these parastatals, adding that training programme should be incorporated in every segment of yearly plan by the agencies.
Ojuri said the inspectors whose invaluable job ensure the safety of aircraft are not adequately trained by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) because they are not regularly bankrolled for training and due to paucity of funds the sequence of training is interrupted and delayed.
He said the lack of training makes the skill acquired over the years rusty and inefficiency comes in when what was learned become recessive due to lack of on-the-job training to further burnish these skills and continuously update the personnel on new developments in his area of specialisation.
“Now government is stressing on improved internally generated revenue from aviation agencies, there are no trained personnel in the area with knowledge-based plan to explore the non-aeronautical potential of these airports to further boost revenues for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and government.
“Granted that overseas training is costly, but it affords one the outside experience and enables one to make comparison in order to do things better? But if the cost of overseas training is deemed exorbitant, the agencies can organise these trainings locally but what is important is that the personnel are getting refresher courses which would help them improve in whatever they are doing,” Ojuri said.
He said that there should be personnel trained in FAAN that should be able to calculate and keep the record of incidents and accidents and other mishap in the industry and report same so that they would serve as a guide in improving air safety.
“There is huge deficiency in training. In the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), a lot of well-trained and experienced personnel are retiring and there are no younger ones trained to take over from them. This qualified staff is ready for retirement, how do they train the upcoming staff that will take over from them? There are Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPS) which are being introduced by the agency, who are going to man them without adequate training,” Ojuri added.