By UCHE USIM
It is the passion for his profession that has kept Captain Fola Akinkuotu glued to the aviation sector for 42 uninterrupted years, and still counting. Capt Akinkuotu who is, today, the Rector/Chief Executive of the International Aviation College (IAC), Ilorin, Kwara State, started as a flight engineer, and later became a pilot and an instructor.
He has witnessed the highs and lows in the industry and offered solutions on how the industry can get back to its feet. Just like other instructors, his parting words for his students have always been: ‘Operate within the safety envelope’. He is also tackling the nerve-wracking challenge of manpower dearth in the aviation sector, even as he called various state governments to map out a scholarship scheme for good students who can be trained at IAC.
He said this was what he enjoyed in the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL) where he schooled under government scholarship. He advised that the issue of manpower inadequacy, though a global challenge be tackled headlong, as there are not enough hands to take over the baton from the good hands in the industry, most of whom are aged and on the verge of retirement.
He also said the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) development approach should be strengthened in the sector as private investors remain strong partners of government in the urgent task of revamping both the industry and the nation as a whole. Capt Akinkuotu said it was obvious that government alone cannot provide the needs of the industry, considering the huge capital outlay required to build and sustain a robust aviation sector. He spoke more on the industry. Excerpts: