Sirika Canvasses Special Development Fund for Aviation Sector

Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika

By Deji Elumoye

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday canvassed for the establishment of an Aviation Development Fund (ADF) for the aviation industry by the federal government.

Sirika made the call in his presentation at day two of the on-going three-day public hearing on six aviation bills holding at the Senate wing of the National Assembly complex.

Responding to concerns over inadequate safety equipment at the nation’s airport, passenger comfort and perceived indifference of the regulatory agency, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the minister emphasised that the important sector is currently faced with paucity of funds.

According to him, the Aviation Development Fund being proposed with friendly interest rate would come in handy for the sector to address its enormous financial challenges.

He said: “In the wisdom of the ministry, we saw that we need huge fund to deal with capital intensive projects, including what the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) will require. We need huge amount to put them in place. Of course, we need adequate security around the airport to deal with intruders.

“If we are able to find this money and deal with these items, what we will be addressing is sustainability of the items. We need Aviation Development Fund, where these money can be kept, where we are cock sure that these fund with little interest can be tapped. All we would then need is to boost our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). This Fund will help us with passenger comfort, safety around airport. This volume of capital can be deployed to ensure that every aviation equipment are available at our airports.”

Sirika expressed concern over the failure of airline operators under the aegis of Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) to remit their service charge, and recommended automated payment system to take care of the default in remittance by members of the AON.

In his presentation, the Director General of NAMA, Fola Akinkuotu, expressed delight over the proposed amendment of the Bill establishing NAMA, saying it would boost the much needed improvement and efficiency to improve safety in our airspace.

On his part, an aviation security consultant and Secretary General of Aviation Security Round-table Initiative, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), while calling for a review of the sharing formula of the remittance to the NCAA, which he insisted was skewed against other stakeholders in the sector, asked pointedly “what is NCAA doing to be taking 58 per cent?”.

The bills undergoing public hearing include: ‘A Bill for an Act to repeal the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and to Enact the Civil Aviation Act for the Regulation of Civil Aviation in Nigeria and for Other Related Matters; A Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act and to Enact the Nigerian Aviation Technology Act to provide for its organisation, control and operation and for related Matters; and a Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency Act for the purpose of providing effective Air Navigation.”