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.
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.