No doubt, the Achilles heel so far of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is security. Presently , all the regions of the country are experiencing one security challenge or the other . However the recent change in guard in the security chiefs and the new charge is titling the fight in favour of our security agencies.
However, one area even the fiercest critics of the president will admit he has performed creditably well is in the area of infrastructure. The railway systems which has been moribund is gradually been rescussisated across the county. The Abuja / Kaduna , Itakpe Warri and Lagos / Ibadan rail railways are pointers to these .
While most Nigerians are hailing the president on the revival of railways not much is being said of the aviation sector which has recorded tremendous strides.
On Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika was a guest at the weekly briefing organized by the Presidential Communications team.
He gave insights on the successes recorded in the aviation sector . Sirika told a story on how when he wanted to close down the Abuja airport runway to avoid an air mishap. According to him “ I faced many pressure , the National Assembly invited me over seven times to explain to them . Many stakeholders called me and told me it can’t be done.
He further explained that he went to President Buhari to explain the situation to him and the President pointedly told him to ensure the process was transparent. To everyone’s surprise the Abuja airport runway was delivered in 6 weeks . Infact it was delivered 24 hours to the promised date . I think Sirika’s stock grew since then.
He also went down memory lane and disclosed how the rehabilitation of Enugu airport came about. Sirika said prior to 2015, workers at the Enugu airport usually move around with wheelbarrows full with granite and anytime a plane lands , they patch up the runway . It was that bad.
He also disclosed how he met the president again and requested for money telling him not to mind allegations that he was not being fair to the Igbo . The president obliged him and the funds were released and today, the airport is one of the best in the continent.
Sirika also said he met the President on the issue of Nigerians firefighters in the aviation going to Cameroon for training . He again went to the President and the Aviation school in Zaria was upgraded and now trains firefighters.
He also said the national carrier will begin operations by the 3rd quarter of next year.
He also disclosed the administration of President Buhari has so far released the sum of N5billion out of N22billion initially approved by the Federal Executive Council to stakeholders in the aviation sector.
He said the Funds which has since been shared by stakeholders in the sector, cutting across all the various service providers is part of a special bailout fund owing to the covid 19 pandemic.
Sirika explained that government came to the decision to bailout the sector when it was discovered that the sector was near collapse as it was one of the worst hit during the pandemic.
The minister also dismissed insinuations that the national carrier project has been abandoned saying the government only took steps to review the take off plans in order not to repeat same mistakes by the defunct Nigerian Airways.
He said “Project development phase completed with the development of the outline Business Case( OBC) and subsequent issuance of compliance certificate by the infrastructure concession regulatory commission.
“The ministry is working towards representing another memo for the approval of the FOBC in the month of July,2021.
“Next step is the placement of request for qualification ( RFQ) in local and international media . Commence operation of local and international flight by 3rd quarter ,2022.
The Minister noted that the government is in the process of developing a policy to regulate the flying of drones in Nigeria in order to protect the airspace from external incursion.