By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—AS many international and local airlines in the country are having challenges as a result of the current economic recession, the Federal Government yesterday lamented that the nation’s aviation industry was facing serious challenges that required the collaboration of all stakeholders to tackle.
This is as the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika and the unions in the sector clashed over government’s plans to concession four of the 22 airports owned by the federal government.
This came on a day Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, vowed not to fly any of the nation’s local airlines because of the inherent challenges that had resulted in air disasters in the country.
Speaking at the public hearing organised by the Nkeiruka Onyejeocha-led House Committee on Aviation on the need to rescue airline industry from imminent collapse, Sirika said the aviation industry required trillions of naira to reposition so that the airports in Nigeria would compete with other airports in any parts of the world.
“The truth of the matter is that, we are facing crisis in the industry. The country has found itself in economic quagmire due to a lot of issues. We need all hands to be on deck,” the minister stated, adding that the only way out was to concession the airports.
He said airports in the country were not operating at required capacity, adding that if nothing was done to salvage the situation, they would not improve.
He said the airports could witness a surge in passengers’ traffic, ranging up to 60 millions in the next ten years, if an enabling environment was created for operators.
Sirika said there was no intention to sell or privatise the airports, noting that what the government had planned was to concession them.
He assured that every process of the concession would be done transparently to make it people-oriented.
He said: “This concession will not be shrouded in secrecy and members of the National Assembly will have a major role to play in this regard.