By Godwin Amunde
The APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign, a voluntary think-tank of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), says the aviation sector in Nigeria is undergoing a revolution under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group said the revolution is evident in the investments made in infrastructural development and capacity building in the sector.
In a statement, signed by the quartet of Barr Ismail Ahmed, Lanre Issa-Onilu, Tolu Ogunlesi and Salihu Moh Lukman, the group said that the Buhari administration has kept faith with the Aviation Roadmap it launched in May 2016, aimed at transforming the sector, in terms of safety, infrastructure and economic viability.
It said, in its determination to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, the Federal Government in 2020 released the sum of N5 billion in bailout funds, shared among airlines, ground handling companies, travel agencies, flight catering services operators, and other stakeholders.
“Nigeria’s aviation industry is undergoing revolution under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. Since the launching of the Aviation Roadmap, the Ministry of Aviation has focused on implementation.
“In terms of infrastructure, the new terminals of Port Harcourt, Abuja and Kano International Airports, inherited from the previous administration, had been completed.
“The new Lagos terminal is very close to completion, brand new runways have been constructed at the Abuja and Enugu International Airports, in 2017 and 2020, respectively”, the statement reads.
The group said a significant portion of the investment in the aviation sector had been focused on resolving issues and bridging gaps inherited from previous administrations.
It said an example is the payment of pensions owed to staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways.
“Buhari had approved that the backlog of almost 20 years be cleared”, the statement added.
Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika
The group further noted that under Buhari’s administration, the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, (NCAT), have acquired several new training aircraft, and had been recognised globally by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, (ICAO).
It said NCAT had been provided with a brand new Boeing-737 full flight simulator, as well as a fully automated fire and smoke aircraft training simulator, and noted that Nigerian personnel would no longer be sent to Cameroon for training on tackling aircraft fires and smoke, adding that the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) had also been provided with a world-class flight safety laboratory.
“This means that airplane recorders, popularly known as Black Box, no longer have to be sent abroad for analysis.
“Furthermore, the AIB is now actively providing technical support and services to other African countries, including assisting Sierra Leone to set up its own Accident Investigation Agency, in 2021.
“On the matter of the new private sector-led National Carrier, the Minister of Aviation has assured that the establishment process is still on course, with a target commencement date for operations in March 2022.
“To mitigate the negative impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the sector, the Federal Government in 2020 released the sum of N5 billion in bailout funds”, the statement reads.