Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika says Nigeria’s efforts on liberalization have led to significant increase in the operations of foreign and domestic utilization of airports in the country.This he said had resulted in the annual traffic growth of over 8% and recorded 12.6% growth this quarter as the second fastest growing industry after water and sanitation.
Speaking at this year’s 40th International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, Assembly in Montreal, Canada, Sirika stated that with 200 million people and 923,766 square kilometers of landmass, the present administration had resolved to make Nigeria the hub of West and Central Africa sub-region and make air travel the preferred mode of transportation.
“We are fully aware that achieving this would require a robust industry that is safe, secured and efficient and environmentally friendly with modern and adequate infrastructure”.
According to him, concerted efforts have been made in the areas of safety, security and collaboration with aviation organizations among others to attract investments, grow and development of the industry.
While emphasizing that infrastructure was essential in achieving the aviation of their dream, he listed steps so far taken in this regards to include runway reconstruction, perimeter.
“Nigeria has embarked on infrastructure resuscitation and has made substantial investment in the provision of modern landing and navigational equipment, upgrade and replacement of airport infrastructure facilities including runway re-construction, airport perimeter fencing, fire fighting and other rescue equipment, airfield lightning etc”.
In the area of safety, Sirika said, “Nigeria in the last 3 years has continued to work toward sustaining the successes achieved in the ICAO universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme and the Federal Aviation Administration FAA, International aviation safety assessment, Category 1 rating through strengthening of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to keep regulating aviation safety without political interference”.
He added,” Nigeria has continued to collaborate with ICAO, and the Africa Civil Aviation Commission, AFCAC, to promote safety in our sub-region by actively supporting the implementation of the comprehensive regional implementation plan for aviation safety in Africa, the AFI plan and the hosting and substantial funding of the BANJUL Accord group, aviation safety oversight organization, the BAGASSO, the regional safety organization which has its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal capital territory, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NiMET, provides technical support including capacity building as well as weather services to many countries in our continent”.
With regards to aviation security, the Minister stressed that, “Nigeria has continued to records significant improvement with the installations of modern security equipment at our airports, continuous implementation of our national aviation security programme and up-to-date training for our aviation security personnel”.
The Aviation helsman also urged all member States to patronize the recently ICAO certified Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, aviation training school for training aviation security personnel.
“This facility will be available to all aviation security personnel both in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region”.
“Nigeria has been a great supporter of liberalization and has continued to champion the liberalization effort in Africa through the implementation of the Yamoussoukro decision, the YD and the Single African Air Transport Market, the SAATM, and I wish to call on the ICAO to continue and support the regional liberalization efforts of states as they could be used as incentives to achieving global multilateral agreement on liberalization of market access”.
Sirika extolled the leadership quality of the ICAO President, Dr. Bernard Aliu, adding since he became the ICAO President the right direction had been provided to achieving the objectives of the organization.
“Since we borrowed Aliu to the world and since assuming office in 2014, the President of the Council, Dr. Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu has showed exemplary leadership in the council of providing the required direction for achieving the strategic objectives of ICAO”.
“While I will not take your time in listing the commendable achievements of the council under his watch, I can confidently say that ICAO has significantly improve in providing the right leadership in the development of safe, secure, efficient and environmentally friendly air transport industry through the No Country Left Behind Initiative for the effective implementation ICAO SARPs, the introduction of ICAO regulation forum to facilitate aviation development, the development of global security plan and the Enhancement of Gender Equality and Youth Programmes, the CORSIA, etc”.