IN its desire to produce more specialized manpower in the aviation industry, the Anambra State Government has set up a N750 million scholarship scheme for the training of youths as pilots and flight engineers.
The scheme was approved at a meeting, Wednesday, of the State Executive Council at the Government House, Awka, following a presentation by the head of a non-governmental organization, Girls Can Fly Initiative, Mrs Obiagelu Ikejiaku-Adelana, the first female pilot from the State.
The first batch of 50 applicants to benefit from the two-year scholarship scheme will be trained for the acquisition of basic flying licence and flight engineering at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, Kaduna State.
While each of the 20 local government areas in the state has two slots, to ensure spread, equity and fairness, 30 of the 50 beneficiaries are expected to be female.
Inaugurating a committee to oversee the implementation and success of the scheme, the state Governor, Willie Obiano reflected that though the owner of Peace Airline is from Anambra, the state cannot boast of more female pilots in the aviation industry.
In the four man committee are Air Vice Marshall Ben Chiobi, a retired Air Force Pilot and the Special Adviser to the State Government on Creative Security, as chairman; Commissioner for Creative Economy and Youth Development, Mr Afam Mbanefo; Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Professor Theresa Obiekezie and the Commissioner for Basic Education, Professor Kate Omenugha.
The scholarship scheme, which is expected to train hundred pilots and flight engineers, is open to persons aged from 16 years who have either tertiary or secondary school education.
Speaking on the scheme, the committee chairman said that in other to catch them young, his committee will in the next few days start a tour of 10 schools in the state to sensitise students on the opportunities in the aviation industry.
He said that the programme will help to shore up the number of professionals in the aviation industry from the state in the next few years.
Mrs Ikejiaku-Adelana described the scholarship award as exemplary and urged other state governments to borrow a leaf from the state.