The Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has said that the federal government was committed to attract increased trade and inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigerian aviation sector.
Sirika stated this during the Fourth Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum on Thursday in Abuja. He said that increased trade and FDI would help to maximise the contribution of the sector to the socio-economic development of the Nigerian economy.
Sirika said that government remain committed to making air transportation the preferred and safest means of transportation, creating a self-sustaining business model to drive socio-economic growth in Nigeria. The minister said the vision of the government for the industry was to develop a hub to take full advantage of Nigeria’s potentials in aviation.
He added that government was also committed to provide the requisite capacity and manpower, especially aviation business managers and scientists to engage in research and development. Parts of government’s vision, according to him, were establishing a business model that will make the industry self-sustaining through Public Private Partnership (PPP). “We want to develop an industry that provides all the maintenance needs in the country thereby reducing capital flight.
“We are also determined to ensure optimum utilisation of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and Multilateral Air Service Agreement (MASA) to the advantage of indigenous airlines. “Government is committed to developing an industry with improved infrastructure and quality service delivery,’’ he said.
Sirika said that in spite of the progress made, the industry was still faced with some challenges such as high cost of Jet A1 (aviation fuel) and budgetary constraints and slow pace of infrastructural development. He said that the government had taken measures to address the high rate of equipment /instrument obsolescence and degradation, as well as inadequate technical and Aging Workforce.
The minister said non-optimisation of Bilateral/Multilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA/MASA) was another major challenge confronting the industry.
He highlighted the progress made so far in the implementation of the sector roadmap to include improvement in aviation safety and security. “We achieved the certification of Lagos and Abuja airports by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in line with the guidelines and procedures stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). “The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) got World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Certification for conforming to the requirements of (ISO 9001 2015).
“This is for the provision of meteorological services to the aviation industry and other stakeholders and Nigeria is the only country to achieve (ISO 2009 2015) in Africa,’’ he said.
Sirika said transaction advisers had been working on developing the business case in line with Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) regulation for concession of four international airports and establishment of national carrier.
He assured that the process would be transparent, adding that all stakeholders would be carried along. Sen. Adamu Aliero, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, said that the National Assembly was committed to ensuring that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act was passed as quickly as possible. Aliero said the National Assembly would continue to support the development drive of the government towards repositioning the nation’s aviation sector.
He disclosed that the senate would only support the planned concession of airport if it would be done transparently, adding that concession should bring about efficiency of the airports. Aliero also urged the government to ensure that the proposed national carrier was private-sector driven to avoid the repetition of the defunct Nigerian Airways experience. “NASS is in support of the establishment of national carrier but it must be private sector driven.
“We are also in support of the concession of airports provided the process is transparent and I disagree with aviation unions that the concession would lead to job loss. “I have seen where concession has led to job creation and efficiency,’’ he said.