- No going back on closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Chief Nike Akande, monday called on the federal government to include members of the Organised Private Sector in the Ease of Doing Business Committee it recently constituted.
Akande, a former Minister of Industry, who spoke with State House correspondents at the venue of the Second Presidential Business Forum presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said members of the private sector were the ones suffering from bureaucratic difficult which make doing business difficulty.
According to her, private sector operators are more conversant with the problems and will be ready to quickly bring such to the notice of the government when included in the committee.
Akande said she had always taken up the responsibility of attracting foreign investors to Nigeria whenever she has the opportunity of speaking outside the country.
She said: “The ease of doing business committee that the government has set up is very important. Whenever I have opportunity to travel out of the country and make speeches, I always try to attract investment to the country.
“We, the private sector operators, want to be part of this committee because we know where the shoe pinches.
“By being part of the committee, the challenges being faced by the private sector can be brought to the notice of the federal government quickly.
“The good news however is that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment mentioned that they were already thinking about it.
“If we did not have this dialogue, we won’t know what they are thinking. I thank the government for this dialogue.”
The former minister said the points raised by the OPS were critical to the nation’s economy.
She urged the government to sustain the forum which she said afforded both parties to listen to each other.
Earlier, the federal government had insisted that it would go on with the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who disclosed this at the Second Presidential Business Forum said safety was the greatest consideration.
He said a Lufthansa aircraft had been grounded at the airport for the past three days due to damaged gear which occurred on landing.
The Presidential Business Forum is a platform to engage and interact with the private sector to keep the sector abreast of government’s policies, programmes and activities.
Amaechi was responding to the concerns expressed by the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Udenba-Jacobs.
Udenba-Jacobs, while making a presentation on behalf of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) has observed that the closure of the airport would have a negative effect on the nation.
Responding, the Aviation Minister said at 34, the airport has outlived its 20 years life-span.
He explained that the work that would be done at the airport was not repair but a complete re-building of the runway.
According to him, the entire architecture of the runway from bottom to top has collapsed, insisting that it is totally unsafe to continue to use the runway, as he added that the work cannot only be done at night.
s“We are not going back on closure of Abuja airport. I understand that Lufthansa landed and damaged its gear and has been here for three days. The runaway was built to last for 20 years but it has been in use now for 34 years. We cannot do it only at night. We don’t want to lose anybody. We are not repairing but rebuilding. If anything happens you will ask us to resign and we don’t want to resign.”
While appearing before the Senate earlier in the year, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Serika, had said the closure of the airport would only last for six weeks while work of the 3,600 metres runway would take six months.
While welcoming participants to the meeting the acting president said the main plan of the administration economic plan was the sustenance of the robust private sector partnership.
He said: “Indeed, it is our strong believe that sustainable economic growth is only possible if it is private sector led and a great of attention has been paid as you will possibly find in sustaining private sector leadership especially in the plan of economic recovery and growth plan 2017 which is to be launched next month.”
Osinbajo said the pivot of that plan was the private sector led recovery growth and plan.
“So, this forum is an important one for engendering the continuous engagement that this partnership will entail,” he added.