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‘How I went from aircraft cleaner to pilot’

Captain Muhammed Abubakar’s sojourn into the aviation sector began when he finished his secondary school and went to Kaduna in search of admission into Kaduna…

Captain Muhammed Abubakar’s sojourn into the aviation sector began when he finished his secondary school and went to Kaduna in search of admission into Kaduna Polytechnic. Unfortunately, he went there late and could not get the admission he was looking for. According to him, he searched for something to do to get going, so he got a casual job as an aircraft cleaner with Kabo Air in Kaduna.

“It was during Hajj operation, and I was earning N200 per day, even though many believed that I wouldn’t do it because of the meagre money involved. I was later employed as ground staff with the airline in Maiduguri. Through my service in the company, I worked in almost all the units, except security. That helped me a lot in the aviation sector,” Abubakar told Daily Trust Saturday. 

Along the line, Abubakar got employed as a cabin crew member after a solid performance at an interview held in Kaduna, where he served Kabo Air for eight years, earning N17,000 monthly. He later moved to Aero Contractors, in the oil and gas section of the company as a flight attendant, where he worked with their chartered services, as the company was then not into scheduled flight services.

According to Abubakar, when Aero Contractors ventured into scheduled services, he gave some input, which made the then Deputy Managing Director of the company to take notice of him. “After that, we developed a good working relationship, and he’d seek my input on many things,” he said.  

Abubakar recalled to Daily Trust Saturday that when he received his first payslip at Aero, he was shocked, and even tried to return it, thinking it wasn’t his. “This is because my initial salary at Kabo Air was N17,000, and what I got paid in Aero was N170,000, so I couldn’t believe it,” he narrated.

Instead of adopting a lavish lifestyle typical of the sector, Abubakar decided to save and invest. “I joined a contribution system with my colleagues, and when it was my turn to receive the accumulated funds, there was a sizeable amount of money. So, I went to the managing director and sought his advice on my dream of training as a pilot. He was so happy, and supported me. That’s how I managed to sponsor myself for my private pilot licence in Canada, which marked my take-off as an aircraft pilot,” Abubakar said.

When Abubakar returned to Nigeria after a successful completion of his training, the issue of having a commercial pilot license came up, and he had no money. So he went to discuss his dilemma with the deputy managing director, and the company assisted him to go to Canada to train for a commercial pilot license. He was also sponsored by the company to go for his type rating training in Canada, which qualified him to be a pilot.

After eight years in Aero Contractors, Abubakar got a job with Azman Air, as a pilot, and has been there for two years now. He told Daily Trust Saturday that the road to realising his dream has often been rough, and he even considered quitting. “But I was able to weather the storm, and here we are today,” he said.

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