By G9ija

The Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and flight simulator facilities established by Caverton Helicopters for the training of pilots will boost Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Aviation Minister Sirika Hadi said on Thursday.

Sirika, who commended the aviation firm during a tour of the facilities at the Tracon Site of the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos said they would also provide capacity building for the youth.

The minister reiterated the government’s commitment to encourage businesses like Caverton’s and other entrepreneurs within the aviation industry.

He also pledged that the orientation of regulatory authorities would also change from being police of industry to enablers of businesses.

The minister said: “Our primary purpose in government is to provide full support to entrepreneurs for them to provide the needed service and employ our people. And this is exactly what is happening here. I am very impressed and more than willing to support Caverton Helicopters and other entrepreneurs in the aviation industry.

“As I said in my earlier remarks, we are reorienting the Nigerian Civil Aviation industry to shift focus from being the police of the industry to becoming an enabler of businesses. To create that partnership that will help develop the industry, provide the service, employ our people and kick start the economy and ginger it up, add and contribute to the GDP of our country. An investment like Caverton’s will certainly do that.”

The minister noted that the move to involve local participation in the aviation industry started in 1985 when President Muhammadu Buhari was Head of State.

He said: “The aviation industry was dominated by foreigners. He decreed that all the foreign aviation operators that were doing business in Nigeria must employ Nigerians, train Nigerians. That was why most of us were trained and brought into the aviation industry. Today, Caverton has made a statement.  For Dr. Remi Makanjuola to have ventured into it, he is not only bridging a gap and creating a space, he has demonstrated that Nigerians too can do it.

“…We are also very proud of them as it will add to their revenue, their activities within the airport and will also add to the growth of civil aviation in general. I would like to thank the chairman and owner of Caverton business for their foresight and vision to participate in the aviation industry. They have done well …”

Responding, Dr. Makanjuola thanked the Minister, noting that he had been “part of it from the beginning in terms of advice and all that that we need to do to get it right. We are proud today that he is here to support us”.

On the level of completion and when operations would take off, Makanjuola explained that the facility was about 70 per cent completed.

He said: “We envisage that it would be ready by the first quarter of 2021. Our simulator which would go into the training is already on ground as it has arrived in the country. The Simulator is for the training of pilots.

“Apart from ensuring employment for Nigerians we are looking at other things in terms of capacity development and capital flight. I am sure other operators spend millions of dollars flying pilots abroad for training.

“The company has an annual budget of about three million dollars flying pilots to facility training centres in Dubai, Europe and the United States. With the training facility, the money will now stay in Nigeria and will not go out of the country. The facility will not only be servicing Nigeria but West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.”