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Inconsistency in aviation policy direction frustrating existing, new investors—BHIU
Since the beginning of this administration and even before it, the Nigerian aviation sector had faced series of failed, inactive or somersaulted policies.
Under the current administration alone, more than three airlines had either failed or technically rescued by a government agency.
Besides, safety and security issues are still trailing the industry in Nigeria in the last few years. There had been cases of fallen off emergency exit door, taxing off the tarmac, emergency landing, misplaced luggage, cows almost boarding aircrafts after entering from unfenced airport perimeter borders’ and so much more.
Earlier last year, the government opened up on setting up of a national carrier, become mute midyear and come back at year end to say that the planned national carrier will be driven by the private sector and no more the federal government as was said in the beginning.
Towards the end of last year, the fever of concessioning four leading national international airports gripped industry stakeholders.
Besides, many of the airport remodeling jobs that were awarded even during the last administration are still facing snail speed.
In fact, the Port Harcourt International Airport that was included in the concessioning is still wobbling in its remodeling that may have become endless.
Though the federal government recently announced the repatriation of about $600m being held proceeds of foreign airlines that operated in Nigeria, it would be recalled that with holding the fund had been an issue of controversy in the last three years.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika who included Abuja in the planned concession had last year noted that concessioning process and building of second runway can go together only to turnaround recently to say that “the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport would not be concessioned until after the construction of the second runway”.
While explaining why the concession would be on hold pending when the second runway is completed, the minister who expressed worries over the deficient capacities of indigenous airline operators, hinted it was developing a new business model that would make Nigeria’s aviation industry self sufficient.
Sirika, who dropped this hint recently, said that the Federal Government was currently establishing a business model that will make the industry self-sustaining through Public Private Partnership (PPP) programmes.
Business Hilights gathered that it was due to poor business structure and unorganized architecture of aviation industry that the Association of Airline Operators’ of Nigeria (AON) stood against Nigeria’s signing of the recent AfCFA deal in Kigali, Rwanda last month.
Speaking at the recent 4th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum in Abuja, the minister said government wants to develop an industry in such a way that it runs transparently and efficiently.
To some analysts, such comments are only viable when a new minister is appointed and not when he or she had spent more than three years in office.
Again, pledging that government was determined to provide all aircraft maintenance needs of the country, thereby reducing the multi-billion naira capital flight incurred annually after three years in government may be seen as another trick on the collective intelligence of aviation stakeholders during an election year.
While assuring at the meeting that government would ensure optimum utilisation of its numerous Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) and Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA) to the advantage of indigenous airlines, Sirika averred that “We also hope to build an industry with improved infrastructure and quality service delivery to maximise the contribution of the sector to the socio-economic development of the Nigerian economy through increased trade and in-flow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) with resultant job creation opportunities”.
Observers say telling Nigerians after three years in office that “The Federal Ministry of Transport (FMoT) remains committed to making air transportation the preferred and safest means of travelling by developing a hub to take full advantage of our potential,” leaves much to be desired.
It was not clear if all these were part of what Russia federation considered before dumping Nigeria where the market is to seal aviation partnership deal with Egypt in its drive to enter African aviation landscape recently.