The Honourable Minister of Aviation, Malam Hadi Sirika last Thursday, submitted a Concept Note to the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed mni, MFR, on the Ministry’s plan to set up an African University of Aerospace and Aviation, to be located in Abuja.

Speaking shortly, before presenting the Concept Note to the Executive Secretary, the  Minister said that the  establishment of the university was one of the strategic  policies of the Ministry approved by President Muhammadu Buhari towards repositioning the sector, adding that already the sum of one billion Naira was provided in the 2021 budget for the  takeoff of the new university.

Malam Sirika said that the special university would be dedicated to research and development in civil aviation and aerospace technology and  disclosed that Nigeria would be the first country on the African continent to establish such an institution and that is why the name “African University of Aerospace and Aviation.”  

The Minister noted that aerospace and civil aviation had been expanded with new frontiers that “need the attention of experts that Nigeria will begin to play a role and participate effectively.”

He said: “An example is the development of drones or unmanned vehicles that have now taken over the space delivering cargo, delivering mails, delivering things and very soon delivering human beings and robots.”

He explained thing at “This is a new frontier in civil aviation that needs to be developed,” adding: “We started with Brazil is producing in the area of civil aviation, today Brazil is producing aircraft, and we aren’t producing a pin. So l think we should be able to have this university that is dedicated to aerospace and aviation in addition to the production of high-level manpower required across the globe.

He said Mr. President gave the approval for it about four years ago and this number of years had been devoted into the process with a crack team led by the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Musa Abdullahi, himself a seasoned Engineer and technocrat, working it out with the support of the NUC.

In his words: “We have been working three to four years now into this and we developed a concept note based on the advise by Executive Secretary NUC for critique and that will fast track the process of setting up the University. We come up with concept note of what will be the focus of this University”, he explained.   

He also said the graduates of the university would venture into all aspects of civil aviation and aerospace, as the conception was quite distinct with that of the present Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, which currently specialises in skills training for Pilots, Cabin Crew, Aeronautics Maintenance Engineers, Air Traffic Controllers, among others.

While noting that aviation had gone beyond skill acquisition, the Aviation Minister stressed that the University would not only help to address gaps in Aviation research, as it would primarily be a centre of aerospace and civil aviation matters, but add to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in terms of earnings from its patented products. 

To facilitate the achievement of the roadmap in building our capacities and resources in aerospace technology, Mr. Sirika said his team had sought the intervention and collaboration of Ivy League Universities in USA and Ukraine, with tack records in Aviation Studies and Management to glean from their best practices.

In his words “I have a personal emotion towards setting up the Aviation University. I realised that education is one instrument that can unbundle knowledge beyond a limitless boundary.

“It is unfortunate that we lacked dedicated centres for R&D in a fast developing venture like Aviation which keeps interconnecting the world and breaking all forms of barriers. We have touched other bases around the world to tap the expertise of renowned Aviation magnets”, he said. 

He argued that the university would serve as a single market of civil aviation and aerospace in Africa, being the first of its kind with the capabilities to provide robust research and development services in the ever dynamic and changing sector like aviation.

Mr. Sirika expressed gratitude to Executive Secretary and his team for guiding the process leading to the submission of the concept note and the assurance that it would be expeditiously concluded. 

In his response, the Prof. Rasheed described the Minster as an adventurous person and knowledge seeker all his life. He said NUC was ready to assist government and private agencies interested in establishing universities especially specialised ones that would address specific needs.  

He reiterated the commission’s commitment to ensure that the guidelines for establishing any higher institution in the country were adhered to before granting approval. As an interim measure, he promised to engage some professors to perfect the concept note for immediate approval.

Prof Rasheed said: “l can assure you that by the end of the month (July), we are going to have a brand new University, the first African University dedicated to aviation and aerospace study in the country”.

The Executive Secretary stated that the value of such university could hardly be quantified and commended the Minister for his boldness and courage.

“This aviation under your guidance will be the first to show the way that we can support the establishment of specialised university with the ideology of a ‘trans-national education system’, that won’t only serve us but serve the African region and the international community.” He said.

Also in the Minister’s entourage were some Senior Directors in the Ministry, his Chief of Staff, Director-General, Nigeria Meteorology Agency (NIMet), Prof.  Mansur Bako Matazu as well as Director, Public Affairs, Mr. James Odaudu.

At the meeting were NUC’s Deputy Executive Secretary, (Administration), Mr. Chris Maiyaki; the Directors of Academic Planning, Dr. Noel Saliu; Establishment of Private Universities, Mrs. Constance Goddy- Nnadi; Public Affairs, Mr. Ibrahim Yakasai; Executive Secretary’s Office, Mr. John Mairafi as well as the Deputy Director, Academic Matters in the Directorate of Establishment of Private Universities, Mal. Abubakar  Girei.