The House of Representatives Committee on Finance has called for an upward review of the school fees of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, Kaduna State, from the current N7.5 million per student.
Members of the committee argued that the fees should be increased, considering the fact that its competitor in Ilorin, Kwara State, is charging N22.5 million.
The lawmakers made the call at the interactive session on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) on Thursday in Abuja.
The Head of Quality Assurance of the college, Ibrahim Hirse, while making a presentation before the committee, said the college was unable to increase the fees because the government wants to allow the masses to attend the school.
“The major issue is that we charge N7.5million, and that is how it has been since 2007. In Ilorin, the pilot training is N22million, the government has not allowed us to increase our course fees. They feel that N7.5million is high. They feel that if they should increase the fees, the masses will not be able to attend the training. And that is the major source of training aviation pilots,” he said.
The Chairman of the Committee, James Faleke (APC, Lagos), said he questioned the argument of poor masses attending aviation school, adding that the government needs to prioritise its spending to avoid borrowing.
“Do you see masses coming to your school? The man on the road, selling groundnuts. The problem we have is a contradiction of laws. It is not about you, it is for the National Assembly to take a critical look at it and help the country to grow.
“As it is, we continue to borrow money to meet the needs of Nigerians, whereas, critical agencies like you have access to more money than even the Nigerian government, and you just spend the money anyhow. They give you N20 billion today, you will spend it as if it is not enough,” Mr Faleke said.
A member of the committee, Muktar Ahmed (APC, Kaduna), also echoed the line of argument of the chairman.
He asked the college to charge at least N14 million.
“What stops you from charging the N22.5 million they are charging in Ilorin. Tell the government, children on the streets don’t want to go to glorified driving school. I call pilots glorified pilots. If the children of the rich are coming to your school, and you are still charging N7.5 million against a competitor that is charging N22.5 million. You see where your problem is? I am sure your facilities are better.
“So work with the committee that is over-sighting you and talk to the government to review your fees. Anybody that wants to be a pilot, charge them because your competitor is doing N22 million and Nigerians are still going there. Even if it is N14 Million, at least your position will improve,” Mr Ahmed said.
Mr Hirse explained that the college depends on the government for subsidy, as its fees are unable to cover the cost of fuel to power their aircraft.
He stated that the N7.5million single payment covers feeding, accommodation and tuition.
“Even under cost recovery, we cannot even pay for the fuel that we use. But the government says they are subsidizing, so we cannot increase it,” he said.
The committee has adjourned till 17 September to continue the interactive session.
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