The Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, says the country is positioning the sector to take its rightful place and grow its Gross Domestic Product.
This is just as he assured that the Federal Government was determined to create the right atmosphere for the aviation business to thrive in the country.
Speaking at the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria summit and awards in Lagos, themed “Unlocking potential in the aviation industry through Safety,” Sirika said that government’s target remained to make air transport not only enjoyable, but safe and secure.
Represented by his personal assistant, Dr Ibrahim Idris, the minister stressed that this would be achieved through empowerments and upgrade of infrastructure at the airports.
“I want to use this opportunity to say that the government was not resting on its oars in seeing that issues likely to slow down the progress of the industry is addressed adequately and timely,” he added.
Sirika noted that Nigeria remained a major force in Africa’s aviation industry due to her population, adding that the position had not changed, as there had been a record of steady improvement.
He said, “Let me also emphasise, all the same, that it is not yet Uhuru, but believe that with collective efforts, we shall surmount some challenges facing the industry of which the present government is determined to tackle,particularly the issues of safety and security.”
According to the minister, the government is working round the clock to ensure that the sector’s road-map is strictly followed.
He listed areas of success to include upgrade of Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, into an International Civil Aviation Organisation Regional Centre of Excellence and review of the Civil Aviation Policy and Acts.
Others include restructuring of aviation parastatals and employment policies on the enforcement of expatriate quote.
“The role of the aviation industry remains very vital to economic activities not only in our clime but the world over, and so issues of safety cannot be over-emphasised.
“I think my business as a minister is to encourage everyone to join the government in building a virile aviation industry. When the system opens up, instead of job loss, there would be job creation,” he said.
In his remarks, the President of AFARN, Mr Kingsley Nwokoma, said the theme of this year’s summit was carefully chosen to be safety, which remained the bedrock of aviation practice the world over.
On the recognition and awards for 2019, Nwokoma said, “This year we recognise the vital importance of the aircraft engineers and the air traffic controllers, without whom there will be no aircraft to fly in the first place and no skies to operate.”