Independence: Experts lament limited development in aviation sector

Say aviation contributes abysmally to country’s GDP.

As Nigeria continues to bask in the euphoria of its 59th years of independence, stakeholders across its aviation sector though have agreed that the country’s aviation sector is far from reaching its Eldorado.

Lending his voice to the reactions the anniversary has being generating, the Managing Director of Centurion Security Services and a one time military commandant of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retired), while agreeing that there were some infrastructural expansion, however declared that there was limited development in the sector.

For Ojikutu, there have been increases in the number of airports from about eight before independence to twenty six today with twenty of the airports belonging to the Federal Government.

In his contribution, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, a Director at Zenith Travels and a member of Aviation Round Table Initiative, said in looking at other countries that are contemporaries of Nigeria that Nigeria’s aviation sector has not done too well in the area of contributing significantly to the country’s GDP.

Within the period, the operating airlines grew from one domestic airline, defunct Nigeria Airways to about six and revolving in lifespan within five to ten years without developing capacity to compete with the foreign airlines whereas, the foreign airlines had remained constantly growing with intimidation encroachment into the domestic routes.

Speaking on how far the regulations oversight and enforcement had evolved, Ojikutu said the oversight and enforcement functions which were the responsibility of the ministry before the independence and up to the 1990s and. Before the establishment of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); “are gradually getting slacked either because the NCAA is still professionally ineffective on enforcement or the ministry is not ready to remove its hand on the oversight of the sector operators.

Ineffective oversight Ojikutu said had caused the failure of many airlines in the last ten to twenty years, three among them in huge debts, were less than five years in operations. The regulatory authority must look curiously into the business plans of the prospecting airlines of the defunct airlines which is contributing to the lifespans of the domestic carriers.

This he said will also help government to reduce the intervention funds and concessions on debts and other financial inducement given the domestic but private airlines which is seriously affecting the growth in the infrastructural development of the sector.

According to him, the instabilities of the the domestic private airlines since the liberalization of the sector in the 1980s,have caused recurring debts to service providers, banks and even to government and are the major reasons for the inefficient growth in the infrastructural development of the sector and its system and even in the human capital development.

“That is why the present government has to be commended for reversing the trend of free monies to the airlines and the plans for the concessions of the airports that most, over the years, have not been getting the desired attention in the development of their safety and security of infrastructure. The plan for a national carrier by the government is commendable in as much as the private airline operators, have failed in their quest to show competence locally and as flag carriers outside the shore of the country.”

According to Olumide “When we look at other countries that are our contemporaries, I think we have not done too well. I think we have been able to  push those things like the aero political part that involve documentation such as certification, I think we should be able to do well in that based on our penchant  to meet the bench mark and safe target  but when it comes to practicalizing such things in the sector, we fall short. Why we fall short is what we need to begin to look at ourselves. Just like if we look at IOSA documentation we have  airlines like the rested Bellview which could easily get  the IOSA certification but when it comes to the operational part these airlines are not there. That is a typical Nigerian situation.

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