National carrier top aviation agenda ― Minister
• As FG acquires states owned airports • Kogi deserves an airport--Senator Adeyemi
Honourable Sirika said the national carrier amongst other initiatives of his Ministry would be executed through Public-Private Partnership ( PPP) arrangement.
Minister of Aviation, Honourable Hadi Sirika had hinted on Tuesday, while defending his Ministry’s budget before the Senate Committee on Aviation at the national assembly, that, the federal government has not shelved its plan to float a national airline.
He said: “In 2021, the sum of N78.960billion is being proposed for capital expenditure at the headquarters in the Aviation Ministry and the emphasis will focus on the implementation of the Aviation Roadmap as by Mr President.
“The roadmap would be implemented through Public-Private Partnership, topmost of which will be the Establishment of National Carrier”.
Other projects fixed for next year in the aviation road map include the establishment of Maintenance, repair and Overhaul ( MRC) facility, development of Agro-Allied Cargo Infrastructure, establishment of Aviation Leasing Company, Search and Rescue Unit and Establishment of Aerospace University with the support of International Civil Aviation Organization ( ICAO).
The Aviation Minister maintained that all agreements and arrangements with other partners for the actualisation of the national carrier have since been worked out.
“This government right from inception in 2015, has been planning and strategizing on how to resuscitate National Carrier for Nigeria as far as global Air Transportation is concerned, the plan going by what is on the ground now, will be actualised next year through the PPP arrangement.”
Honourable Sirika who disclosed that Aviation was the fastest growing sector in the nation’s economy further disclosed that the Federal Government would soon take over the running of certain airports across the country owned by individual state government aside from upgrade of airports owned by the Federal Government but in bad shape.
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State-owned airports to be acquired include the ones in Benue, Ekiti, Nasarawa and Yobe states along with airports constructed by the federal government in Gombe and Kebbi states.
Senator representing Kogi West and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Smart Adeyemi and his colleagues expressed reservations over the inadequate and dysfunctional facilities at Ilorin, Minna and Makurdi airports, all in the North-central states of Kwara, Niger and Benue states.
Senator Adeyemi equally asked for the construction of an airport in Lokoja, Kogi state capital to complement the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport in Abuja.
The Aviation Minister, however, said that safety and security at airports were paramount to his Ministry while he assured the Committee that the bad shape of the airport in the North Central states would be accorded the desired attention.
” Safety and security issues first before any other thing in the Aviation sector the reason why efforts are being made to put some of the Airports with issues of failing infrastructure in good shape.”
Honourable Sirika also agreed with Senator Adeyemi that the location of an airport in Kogi state was long overdue.
“Lokoja is an important northern town. It is a cosmopolitan town, it’s a mini Nigeria and it is extremely very important in the growth and development of our country.”
“We have a lot of agricultural activities there. There is the fishery, there is perishable item production and so on. So siting an airport there is quite apt. For me, it is something we should have done long ago for its importance.”