…Asks Finance Minister To Facilitate Funding
President Muhammadu Buhari said he has directed the Aviation Minister, Senator, Hadi Sirika to fastrack the construction of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport(NAIA),Abuja second runway and to also ensure that the four international airports are concession without delay.
Buhari said that he has also directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed to facilitate the funding of the controversial Abuja Airport second runway, which at the last count was put at N62 billion.
The airports include: Murtala Muhammed International Airport(MMIA), Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Port Harcourt International Airport(PHIA) and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, (MAKIA), Kano.
He these today during the commissioning of the new Lagos International Airport Terminal nine years after the construction started.
Recalled that the construction of the just unveiled terminal started in 2013.
The just commissioned terminal is one of the terminals that was funded by the China Exim Bank and the Federal Government paying its own counterpart funding and built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
Speaking during the commissioning, Buhari said the commissioning of the terminal has opened a new Vista for the development of the airports terminals in the country.
The President said this this at the commissioning of the new terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, (MMIA), Lagos.
The new terminal, he said will boost social economic development, improve airport operations and management, create direct and indirect employment opportunities and increase foreign direct investment.
He called for the implementation of aviation road map, which according to him would lead to unprecedented growth of the aviation sector.
He posited that unveiling of the terminal has opened an era of safety, security and comfort or being ushered into Nigerian aviation sector.
The President thanked the Minister of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other aviation stakeholders for ensuring that the terminal is completed and commissioned for the benefit of Nigerians and travellers.
Speaking,Sirika thanked President Buhari for given him the opportunity to serve and complete the project.
Aviation, he said will boosts economic growth, create jobs and facilitates economic growth, commerce and tourism, ultimately, raising the standard of living to achieving continental integration and interaction of the African Union agenda.
He said that recent aviation study for Nigeria by IATA in June 2020, showcases the contribution of aviation to the national economy through providing 241,000 jobs directly and indirectly and the contribution of $1.7billion to the economy.
He, however, said that the overall aim is to grow the aviation sector to $14.166 billion.
Sirika contended that IATA, has said that the air transport market in Nigeria is forecast under the current trend, to grow by 174 per cent in the next 20 years and 9.4 billion passenger by 2037.
“The aviation roadmap which was approved by the president includes a national carrier, maintenance and overhaul facility, agro allied terminals as well as aerospace university.
” The roadmap project is being undertaken through PPP and we are working very closely with ICRC for a transparent process. In particular, the airport concession project including the new terminals has reached an advanced stage. The ministry will be issuing request for proposal for shortlisted firms this year and we also expect to announce a partner and hand over in Q4, 2022.
“Despite the impact of Covid-19, the industry has grown in leaps and bounds. The country stands to gain significant benefits in restoring and maintaining connectivity within, to and from Nigeria. Analysis from IATA shows that the sector created 160,000 jobs. Aviation business suffers on issues of access to foreign exchange by local and foreign airlines.”
Sirika disclosed that Nigeria currently holds $283 million in foreign airline funds and appealed the Central Bank to prioritise access to foreign exchange for both local and foreign airlines and to work out modalities to clear the existing backlog and urgently prevent subsequent build up for the health of the economy.
According to him, “We are aware of the problem of aviation fuel scarcity which caused delay and cancellation of flights. I wish to request that you tell the NNPC to import Jet A1 in good quantity as well as directing the CBN to allocate foreign exchange to the marketers to sustain the supply.
Dignitaries at the event besides the President include, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Deputy Governor of the state, Hamzat Bello, Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, the Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator, Smarth Adeyemi, Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Hamisu Yadudu, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Usma haven Nuhu, Managing Director of NAMA, Matthew Pwajok, the Managing Director of SAHCO Plc, Mr. Basil Agboarumi and other dignitaries.