•Says red chamber has no power to halt development
•Insists Air Nigeria will fly before May 29
•Approves National Blockchain Policy
•Okays N9.74bn for water rehabilitation in Apapa, Tin Can Island
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The federal government, has insisted that the senate has no right to stop the ongoing demolition of offices belonging to agencies undertaking aviation activities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this yesterday while speaking with newsmen at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
Responding to a reporter’s question on the issue, Sirika emphasised that the Senate resolution was merely advisory and could not stop the government from doing its work.
“So, government is going to continue, of course. The Senate is advisory, it’s an executive function; we’re not barred by any court of law. So, it’s an executive function and government cannot be stopped from giving development to its people,” he said.
The minister’s remark was in reaction to a motion on Tuesday by the Senate, directing the government to halt the demolition to allow the Senate Committee on Aviation, chaired by Senator Biodun Olujimi, intervene in the matter.
Olujimi had drawn the attention of the red chamber to the warning strike threatened by the Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, and National Association of Aircrafts Pilots and Engineers.
Justifying the planned demolition of the makeshift FAAN structures, the minister said government would go on with its plan to make use of the land by building something befitting Lagos and in the interest of the majority of Nigerians, the Senate’s directive notwithstanding.
“The intent of government is to remove the structure that is housing the offices of the Managing-Director of FAAN and those commercial departments. It was a structure that was made of woods. It’s been there for 40 years, it has caught fire twice, even during our ministration, and to give way for better development for what Lagos has become. It’s the gateway.
“We want to put hotels there, shopping malls, offices, cinemas and the rest of it, so FAAN can make more money. The entire people within that structure are not more than 150 or 200 in that headquarters. Just the other day, some houses were demolished by Lagos State on our behalf, we’ve been on that issue for some time, we went up to Supreme Court and won. They have to give way for developments. This is in national interest.
“If individuals will drag it out with government, there’s no government worker that can drag it out with a government. If I want to pull down this hall and build a better one, who will come and stop me from doing that as a government?
“So, I think it’s not an issue, they’re just over-hitting it and you know why. But we have responsibility and mandate and we’re not shy, we’re very bold to do all those things that are good for our people and for government.
“We’re also a very responsive and responsible government. Where it will affect the lives of people, of course, we wouldn’t be indulging in doing it. We’ve been known to be doing those things that better civilization. This one also is going to make live very good.”
Sirika also reiterated government’s determination to see that Nigeria’s national carrier, Nigeria Air Limited, starts operation before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on May 29, 2023.
His words: “I think three weeks is a lot of time. By the special grace of God, it will fly and don’t forget we didn’t start today. We started this in 2015. We drew up the road-map, we got the transaction advisors in 2016. From 2016 we’ve been planning and planning and planning.
“Many airlines came, more than 50% of the airline today in Nigeria were licensed by us, by the Buhari administration. One of the airlines, United that went to court today, we gave him the license, Buhari government, and he’s never been to the office of the minister. He didn’t even know it. ValueJet, we gave him the license.
“The first time I saw him was at the commissioning of Ogun Airport. Rano Air, Uza Air, all of them. Even Air Peace, which is the biggest airline, when we came in 2015, how many airlines did they have? The growth and robustness of Air Peace is because we gave them the enabling environment as a Buhari government to do it.
Meanwhile, the federal government has approved National Blockchain Policy (NBP) in line with the global technological standards for the growth of the economy.
Blockchain technology is relevant to so many sectors in banking, security, education, commerce, among many others.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ibrahim Ali Pantami, who announced the approval while speaking with newsmen after the FEC meeting said, “With the approval of the National Blockchain Policy for Nigeria today, we can safely say that blockchain technology with all its components and types has been institutionalised in the country.”
Also briefing, Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, disclosed that the council approved the sum of N 9.74 billion for the rehabilitation of portable water facilities for Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos State.