By NBF News

The Nigerian amnesty programme recorded another milestone yesterday with the government going into partnership with the Dubai National Aviation Transport Authority (DNATA), operators of Emirates Airline, to train Niger Delta youths in aircraft and ground handling operations.

The youths would be trained at the Emirates Aviation College (EAC) in Dubai, one of the renowned aviation institutions in the world.

This is coming on the heels of the success recorded in the air pilot training programme in South Africa where some of the former combatants at the Africa Union Aviation College recently undertook their first solo flight.

Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku, at the meeting with DNATA and EAC officials, expressed delight that the training would expose the youths to the best standards offered by the EAC.

'I know Emirates does not joke with standards. I'm very excited about this opportunity because the Emirates group has reputation and Nigeria is interested in tapping into this,' Kuku said.

He explained that the aircraft and ground handling training was important, as it would complement the pilot training programme that had already taken off.

'Nigeria's aviation space is wider than any other country in Africa. We have the vastest opportunities for aviation development in the continent. So, there is a need to tap into quality aviation technology.

'Before now, the focus was on piloting. But what happens before the aircraft flies? Ground handling operations is therefore equally very important.'

'My expectation is that before those undergoing pilot training in South Africa and the United States complete their programme, we would have finished training the ground personnel. If we have to resuscitate Nigeria's national carrier, we have to build the foundation for that to happen instead of relying solely on foreign expertise.'

'Our president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is committed to a transformation agenda for the country. This commitment includes sustaining the peace in the Niger Delta, which is the country's oil producing region. It is for this reason he has graciously and generously ensured funding of the programme for training of the hitherto restive youths,' the presidential aide added.

Earlier, the EAC Senior Vice President, Dr Ahmad Al Ali, said the institution had students from 40 to 45 countries undergoing vocational, undergraduate and post-graduate courses in aviation ground handling and business support, aeronautical engineering, aviation management among other related fields.

He disclosed that the EAC would commence pilot training programme in March next year with a pilot scheme that would take the trainees to Portugal for the practical aspect and for them to be able to acquire European certification.

Kuku was conducted round th
e college to inspect the classrooms, laboratories, workshops, auditorium and the hostel facilities.

He later visited the Proclad Academy at another location in the city where some of the youths are undergoing vocational training in fabrication, underwater pipeline welding as well as health and safety programme.

The presidential aide advised the trainees to continue to be good ambassadors just as he cautioned that any one that portrays the country in bad light will be withdrawn and sent back home.

While urging officials of the academy to continually ensure best standards of training, Kuku restated his warning to shut any centre found to be below required standard.

Last week, the Amnesty Office terminated the contract with Westgate Unique Alliance Limited, one of the training providers for the beneficiaries in South Africa, for performing below expectation.