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International Aviation College was never shut down – Rector

Following the rumour making round that the International Aviation College, Ilorin has been grounded months ago by the regulatory agency, in this interview with our reporters, TaofikatAbolarin and Ganiyu Ibrahim, the Rector of the college, Engr. Benedict Adeyileka spoke extensively on his plans for the college, the host community among other sundry issues.


Briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Engineer Benedict Adeyileka and I am the new Rector of International Aviation College, Ilorin, Kwara State.

When did you resume office as the new Rector?
I took over the running of the college 1st week of August 2018, which was immediately after the conditional suspension of the college. And let me quickly correct the rumours again that the college was shutdown, the college was not shutdown, it was the training activities of the college that was suspended, meaning there were some requirements we needed to meet before we can start operation again. We immediately worked hard to meet up with the requirements and the suspension has been lifted.

Tell us about your journey in the Aviation industry?
I have a very long career; I am a graduate of Metropolitan University, U.K.  I studied mechanical engineering initially and I later attended Oxford University in the U.K to re-qualify myself as an Aircraft maintenance engineer.
I started my career in the Aircraft mechanical school. I also worked in Nigeria Airways while I was serving as a youth corper. I also worked briefly in Gas Airline as an engineer and as a chief engineer. I worked with Aero Contractor Limited as a senior engineer before I went back to U.K again. I went to the Bradford to continue my career as an engineer student. I worked with Logan Airline and from there, I proceeded to Newcastle Town, there is an Airline there called the New Airways, I worked as a supervisor there, then from there, I was posted to Jakarta briefly, I worked in a place called Matak, from there I went to Singapore and Malaysia and from there, I was posted back to Jakarta and I later went back to Britain. I came back to Nigeria in year 2001 where I worked with the Aero Contractor as an engineer briefly, then I moved to Arik Airline, then back to Aero contractor. I have worked in different places until I was appointed into this College as the Rector/CEO. When I was offered the job, I took it because I was aware that they were challenges and decided to start from the scratch, within little time, we have been able to bring things back to order.

What led to the conditional suspension leveled against the college by the regulatory agency?
To say it briefly, the college had issues with compliance, meaning the ability to fulfill the minimum regulatory requirements to be a training organization, yet they were graduating students, but it goes beyond graduating students, there are certain key positions that had to be filled, then the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities decided to give the college a conditional suspension, one can have a blank shutdown, one can have a total revocation of license which means you have to start from scratch, but when they give you a conditional suspension they will say okay you lack A,B,C, go and fulfill ABCD and once those things are fulfilled then you can continue, so we have fulfilled the mandatory requirements and that was how the suspension was lifted.

What are the challenges facing the College presently?
By my assessment of the College, even before I joined the College, I have always said who ever established the school has a very good foresight, the foresight is as good as the prophet who can see to the future, why am I saying this when you go back in time and look at the college now, obviously its one in town and looking at the standard and structure, its like when you want to build a house, you put a foundation that will carry 25 stories on it. The College has its own perfect geographical location, perfect technology, the security is very good, the topography is level, weather is very favourable everything is very favourable to the college, what the college needs now is management and good governance, the College also needs money that is the stage we are now, we asked them to have a buy in, presently in the College every staff has a perfect job description and its very simple, as a Rector/Chief Executive, I will only be foolish to come in and say I will do everything alone. We need team work and we have proven that by sitting together and working together and we have been able to lift that suspension within a short period of time. We work together, everybody just did their own little things and we make decision and that is how we will continue to be doing but basically, we need proper funding.

How will you describe the quality of staff you met on ground?
I think we need to look at the social corporate responsibility of the state, my plans originally is to make sure we develop the local people, we have different training, we grew up in different places, so it depends on how early we started school, some started at the age of 2-years, some people will start at the age of 10-years, so people picked up different learning, we have staff and we will ensure they are up to speed on the basic requirement from the regulatory agency, we will also invest in their attitudinal training, but we need money, we have started training them so once we get that straight then we are good seriously we have sufficient manpower to run the school legally so in that result we now put our strength together, we have decided to complement each other, we have some areas of weakness, we put our resources together and that was how we were able to get our goal of lifting off our suspension. We worked together and we are achieving and I also told them that the Rector is as strong as his own weakness. So we tried to work on this weakness. I plan to bring business into the college so that we can employ more of local people; those are my plans, to employ more local people that we can train and I don't have plans to shed staff.

How do you intend to execute your blueprint for the College?
We have plans to work with the state government, his Excellency, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has approved money for us having given him our bill, we intend to run this place as a business unit, it should be run inform of government corporate partnership, we are going to run it in a way that we should be able to pay for all our overhead, we should be able to pay for our electricity, salary all others, we have also appealed to the governor that we need support to buy new aircraft, to build new hostels, currently the hostels we have will not be enough because of the numbers of students we are planning to admit.
We plan to go to the Navy, Airforce, Police Force, Customs, immigrations to give us students to train, we are going to market the school because it's simply marketable. These are the ways we plan to move the college forward.

Do you have any student currently undergoing training in the college?
Yes, we have called students back in and there were students on ground also before the suspension; the school was active before the suspension. Now we have started calling them back so they can start to catch up.
What are the courses available for study in the college?
We currently train pilot on Fix Wing, we were training pilot on Rotary Wing. However the instructors training certificate has expired, the instructors too has to be qualified, to hire someone to train students such person must also have minimum qualification. Meanwhile we actually have modern electronic classrooms, air-conditioned are in all our classrooms and hostels, we don't have any infrastructural problem, we don't have mechanical problem, we only need to increase the capacity of our aircraft to catch up with the marketing. For you to fly an aircraft the pilot must be qualified and you must have insurance, so those are the three conditions to be met, money has been approved for us to take off but we are waiting for disbursement, we need money immediately to pay for insurance, we need money to pay for landing charges and I also want to use this opportunity to thank his Excellency, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed publicly for the effort he has personally made despite the financial condition of the country.

How will you describe the impact of the College on the Nigerian Aviation sector?
Yes, the college has graduated more than 100 students, both private students and Kwara State students, the Army sponsored students, the Airforce students and the Navy sponsored students, so the impact in the Aviation Industry has been immense but then it is very unfortunate that the college has found itself in suspension radar. Personally, I feel something went wrong and I have told my staff that everybody has to take responsibility from the cleaner to the pilot; everybody has to take responsibility even administratively. I don't want the College to sink. Those were my observations; it's very easy to blame the Rector as the head if things go wrong.

What is your relationship with the former Rector and how will you rate his performance in terms of what you met on ground?
The former Rector was Captain Abdulsalami Abdulkarim, he was an instructor, we know our self very well, I have good relationship with him, I don't have any issues with him and I cannot deny knowing him, but I have a philosophy that success could be as a result of multiple failures, why am I saying that, when one fails you sit back into your shell, you will examine yourself that where have I gone wrong, you can fool anybody but you cannot fool yourself. At the moment what we feel think is not we will review it, everything that we are also doing right we continue to improve on it that is the only way to move the College forward. Whatever that has caused the systematic failure will be avoided and this is us looking inward. I did not blame anybody when I got here, but I look inward, I did not blame the authority, I did not blame the Kwara State Government, I did not blame the Kwara State House of Assembly, I did not blame anybody but look inward and find out exactly what happened.

What is the faith of the College should there be a change in government in 2019?
I made a comment which I am going to refer you back to, I said that the College intends to run as a business entity, I also mentioned the issue of increasing the Internally Generated Revenue, we have a board of director, we have a board chairman, we intend to generate our funds through income, advertisement, movie shot in the College, we have good weather, good environment, the College is classic, so we will bring up money ourselves, not only bringing students in for training, we will be involved in advertisement, we will put advert banners on our aircraft and fly it about so that people will see us, if it is milk or Coca-Cola or whatever, all those billboards will be on our aircraft for advert, it could be MILO, GLO, MTN and the rest, we will do it. This will make big money for us. First law of motion, we are asking the government to inject cash for us so that we can propel our self, so to keep moving we need to keep generating money for the College.
What we need to do as the Chief Executive of this College as my primary assignment is to drive marketing revenue and control cost am not saying we should reduce cost but control the cost, I will make sure we get it to a minimum, we have started that already, we haven't really get much money, we have an engineering department where people are skilled.
We also have mechanical engineers in the College. We are now more dedicated to blocking leakages for the College.

Your general words for an improved Nigerian Aviation Sector?
I actually came back to the country to give back to the society. The Aviation Sector is a highly regulatory industry. On the quality of our engineers, I must confess that the system have not been fare to our national engineers, in my own opinion, I have already seen lack of encouragement that have already driven our local engineer away.
I want to encourage the younger ones coming up irrespective of their challenges to remain focused. I can tell we have challenges, we have cultural challenges that needs to be changed, sincerely, I had to upgrade myself to make sure that I am two or three steps ahead of my colleagues at any time so when I was an engineer, when there is a problem, I automatically try to solve the problem because people expect that this black guys doesn't know anything.

Which other courses are you planning to input into the College?
We are planning to immediately start an engineering school, we have classrooms, we have the aircraft, we are planning to start training the engineers to give them an instructor course, so that we can qualify them to be an instructor. There are certain conditions we need to know, we will look into training it that is part of our plans, we plan to train the cabin crews too, we try to do all sort of technical short training that will have a jet ranger transmission, that is, we will have a jet engine called jet ranger, it is an helicopter with a jet engine, helicopter with jet engine is brilliant style for a pilot. Once you get a jet approval, you can go and fly, then we have this fresher course for pilot and instructor.

How many students have graduated from the College?
We have the records, we have over a hundred that has graduated, part of the graduates are 35 Air force students and two of them are from Liberia Air force and we still have an Army, Nigeria Army student and we have the Naval pilot which will resume as soon as we get our instructors and to get the helicopters flying we need like a year or two years. Once we have the money to pay for their training we will start, though, the money have been approved but we are waiting for disbursement, as soon as the disbursement happens, the helicopter pilot will go, not this month end, maybe next month end, the course is not less than a year, but there might be issues with visas, but the actual course itself is less than a week.

What are the criteria needed to admit students into the College?
We will take O level or A level result, there is also an aptitude test that applicants have to pass so if you have like a PHD, we won't take the person if you did not pass our aptitude test, but if you have an O level and A level and you are brilliant and you passed the aptitude test then you have an entry requirement. We are now talking to the VC's, I have met with the VC of Unilorin, KWASU, we have also met briefly with the SA Treasury to the governor, we need to fix that now, KWASU have the department of Aeronautic Engineering, so why did they want to graduate first and come back here and train themselves, so we have a syllabus instruction that U.K, we can use the same, however if you have a degree, its fine now have to have a plan so that as they are graduating, they will also be passing our courses and obtaining there licenses.

International Aviation College was never shut down – Rector Reviewed by Unknown on November 02, 2018 Rating: 5

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