Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Anambra State Government, yesterday, said it has established a scholarship scheme to train 100 pilots and flight engineers, as well as other aviation professionals in the next few years.
Consequently, it has set aside N750 million to train the first batch of 50 persons to benefit from the scholarship at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, Kaduna State, for two years to obtain the basic flying licence.
The scheme which was approved at the meeting of the State Executive Council at Government House, yesterday, was to increase the state’s presence in the aviation industry.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C.Don Adinuba, said approval of the scheme followed a presentation by the leader of a non-governmental organization (NGO), Girls Can Fly Initiative, Mrs Obiagelu Ikejiaku-Adelana, who was the first female pilot from Anambra State.
“Consequently, Governor Willie Obiano has set up a committee to ensure the swift and successful implementation of the scheme, with Air Vice Marshall Ben Chiobi, a retired Nigerian Air Force pilot who is also the Special Adviser to the Anambra State Government on Creative Security, as chairman. Other members of the committee are the Commissioner for Creative Economy and Youth Development, Mr. Afam Mbanefo; the Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Professor Theresa Obiekezie and the Commissioner for Basic Education, Professor Kate Omenugha.”
Adinuba further said that 30 of the 50 beneficiaries would be female, while at least two persons would come from each of the 21 local government areas in the state to ensure “spread, equity and fairness.”
The commissioner noted that Governor Obiano expressed dissatisfaction at the “irony that though Air Peace, the biggest airline in the country, belongs to Allen Onyema, a worthy Anambra indigene, there are only three or four female pilots from the state.”
He stressed that the scholarship scheme is open to persons who are up to 16 years and have either tertiary or secondary school education.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after his committee was set up, AVM Chiobi said, “to catch them young, my committee will in the next few days start a tour of some 10 schools in the state to sensitize students on the opportunities in the aviation industry.”
On her part, Mrs Ikejiaku-Adelana described the scholarship award to boost the state’s participation in aviation as exemplary, advising other state governments to take a cue from Anambra