The amnesty programme of the federal government in the Niger Delta has boosted the technical manpower of the aviation industry with the training of 29 pilots who will now be further trained at the Luftahansa facility in Germany and CAE Academy in the United Kingdom to specialise in operating various aircraft, THISDAY has learnt.
These 29 youths were trained under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) as pilots in South Africa and are to be ‘type’ rated at the Lufthansa Airlines facility in Frankfurt, and CAE Aviation facility in Oxford, UK.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman Presidential Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku, disclosed this yesterday at a conference on ‘Oil Theft and Illegal Oil Bunkering in the Niger Delta’ in Lagos.
He disclosed that the delegates had not only attained the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) but had also received their Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL),which would enable them to operate commercial airplanes.
Kuku added that for these pilots to operate commercial airplanes competently, they would be going for type-rating programme in Lufthansa Airline and CAE Aviation facility.
He expressed delight that the two aviation institutions had accepted to give the delegates type-rating training, urging them to take their training very seriously and to also make Nigeria proud.
The Special Adviser urged the delegates not to be carried away by the success they had recorded so far admonishing them to redouble their efforts and perform better than they did at the Afrika Union Aviation Academy and Flight Training Services in South Africa.
Kuku also disclosed that some of the youths under the PAP programme were also undergoing pilot training in South Africa, Greece, Jordan and United Arab Emirate.
On oil theft in the Niger Delta region, he noted that stealing of about 400,000 barrels of crude per day was an economic crime against Nigeria and had reached an alarming proportion for full military action and the collaboration of all stakeholders.
While applauding the strides of the Navy and the Joint Task Force (JTF) in combating the scourge, he described the magnitude of the current oil theft in the region as “blood oil crisis” that can only be compared to the notorious Sierra Leonean “Blood Diamond.”
Kukuu noted that at the rate the perpetrators were going, the nation could get to a point where the government would not be able to fund its activities.
“If we get to a point of between 800,000 and one million barrels per day, it will ground the economy. What they are stealing is higher than Ghana’s total oil production,” he said, adding that two-third of global economies was not having anything close to what is being stolen to keep their countries going.
He pointed out that unlike a force majeure where there was a shut-in of oil which was later recovered; “oil theft is an outright loss to criminal elements and their collaborators.”
He advocated that such review should be done in a very transparent manner to enthrone a credible procurement process, adding that the most potent way of checking pipelines vandalism and oil theft was to make Niger Delta indigenes actively involved in securing oil infrastructure as well as part owners of oil resources.
“Nigerians must see oil theft as a war against Nigeria, and those behind it must be treated as economic criminals,” he said.