At least 170 Nigerian pilots are without employment, the Patron of Nigerian Professional Pilots, Capt. Noggie Megison has said.
Megison disclosed this when he led his group on a courtesy visit to the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt Fola Akinkuotu in Lagos.
Megison further explained that he was worried about the growing numbers of jobless indigenous qualified pilots hence his decision to gather all indigenous unemployed pilots under the auspices of Nigerian Professional Pilots (NPP).
He said “I set up this platform for young pilots who haven’t found jobs as common pool where employers can tap from. It also provides them the opportunity to come together and get acquainted with developments in the aviation sector so they don’t lose sight of changes in the sector rather than just sit at home and do nothing.”
According to him, 170 pilots, with Nigerian license have registered as members of the NPP and meets regularly adding that he believes there could be more unemployed pilots who haven’t registered with NPP.
Captain Megison who has spent over three decades in the aviation sector noted that it is critical these young pilots are engaged. “I can’t employ all of them so I advised them to come together so they can collectively put forth their plight to relevant stakeholders in the industry. Going forward, we will be creating awareness about the young pilots’ predicaments. The awareness will also tell industry operators there is a pool of young pilots they can draw from rather than engaging expatriate pilots alone” he explained.
He said “If we don’t address ingenious pilots’ unemployment, soon we would be shocked with what will hit us. As we speak, Kano State alone is training 100 pilots in Jordan, the Niger Delta Development Commission is training 74 in South Africa, the Aviation School in Zaria should graduate about 125 by December next year, in addition to the several others being trained in Ilorin. We should have about 500 pilots joining the market in about a year; where would they work?, “ he asked.
He noted they can’t go work for America or Britain, they should work in Nigeria.
“So we are looking at opportunities of engaging the government on how best we can reduce pilot unemployment, one of which is to create a better aviation environment for local skills. We must create a conducive environment for our young pilots to grow” he said.
He said currently expatriate pilots dominate the market to the detriment of local pilots.
Capt Megison further estimated that there are a minimum 800 expatriates’ pilots flying in Nigeria; “yet we have just about 200 Nigerian pilots out of job.”
“There must be deliberate transfer of technology and skills to the younger generation. Nigerian pilots should have a fair share of the jobs in the Nigerian aviation industry. For instance, there is nothing wrong in giving us 300 slots form the 800 the expatriates are enjoying. Though I don’t blame the expatriates, we opened our doors for them to enter feely” he said.
He also explain further that, if the statistics of 150 private jets operating in Nigeria by the minister of aviation is anything to go by, those 150 jets could be employing at least 600 pilots, saying most of them, if not all, are expatriates.