Nigeria Asks Pilot Trainees In South Africa To Return Home

By Isioma Madike

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has asked
its pilot trainees in South Africa to return home with immediate effect.
The young pilots, 12 in number, were divided into six each in different
schools. According to a source, who spoke to Saturday Telegraph on
condition of anonymity, the young pilots have finished with their paper
works, only waiting for their licenses and formal graduation ceremony
before the order to return home.

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The directive, the source
added, is sequel to the recent attacks on Nigerians and nationals of
other countries living in South Africa, which has continued to draw
condemnation around the world. Saturday Telegraph learnt that the
directive is part of the efforts towards safeguarding Nigerian nationals
in South Africa.

The source said: “Nothing is wrong with the
training. It’s just the tension that is been created in Nigeria. “We
have been there for one year now and had finished with our paper works
last week; we were only waiting for our licenses and formal graduation
ceremony. “But we have been asked to just come back with the authorities
promising to sort out whatever remains with the schools, including our
certificates. “The Nigerian Air force feels is unsafe for us to continue
to stay in South Africa. But we try to calm them down.”

The
young pilots had gone to South Africa to train as part of the bilateral
agreement between the two countries. There is fear from the NAF
authorities that Nigeria has spent so much on these young pilots and
would not want to take what it calls unnecessary risk given the tension
in the two countries at the moment. The programme has been on since 2015
but indications are rife that Nigeria may not send more trainees to
South Africa except issues around xenophobia are quickly resolved. It
will be recall that tension reached feverish height following the
alleged killings, burning and looting of properties belonging to
Nigerian nationals living in South Africa. The Nigerian government in
retaliation pulled out from the ongoing World Economic Forum in Cape
Town, South Africa.

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