The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said that Nigeria would commit N78.96 billion on Aviation Infrastructure Development Roadmap in 2021 noting that the emphasis would be on the implementation of the Aviation Roadmap as approved by President Muhammad Buhari.
Sirika who was responding to questions from the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation said that the roadmap would be implemented through Public-Private Partnership (PPP), which include the establishment of the national carrier; establishment of a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility; development of agro-allied cargo infrastructure; establishment of Aviation Leasing Company; Search and Rescue Unit; and the establishment of Aerospace University with the support of the International Civil Aviation Organization (lCAO).
He said that Nigeria would go ahead and invest on its aviation infrastructure despite its plan to concession four of the airports. This in his view, would give the Federal Government the bargaining power with the potential concessionaires.
“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about this concession. In the first instance, you can actually build a structure to international standard, very operational, make it very beautiful and then of course, concession it so that it is run better.
So, you can improve on infrastructure so that during the concession, you make more because it is the aggregate value of your asset that gives the negotiating power to negotiate more for yourself from the concessionaire.
“That is the explanation for that. So, we will continue to improve on this infrastructure, so that when we come, it gives us the leverage to have the negotiating power to give us the better deal,” Sirika said.
A member of the committee, Hon. Akin Alabi, while speaking at the budget defense, asked the minister to explain why the sum of N5 million was budgeted for sensitization of staff on Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) Act and N10 million is being proposed in the 2021 budget.
Responding, the minister said it is important that members of staff in the ministry and agencies under it are sensitized on the Act and ensure that everybody follows the rule.
Alabi also pointed out that a lot of Nigerians are not impressed with the National Carrier project and the working capital for the national carrier in the 2020 budget.
Sirika, however, said that the ministry was out to establish a strong national carrier that is commensurate with the population size, market and manpower of Nigeria that would add value to the economy.
He stressed that the ministry had grown a number of passengers from eight million to 18 million since 2015 and airplane management had significantly improved.
According to him, this can be made much better “if we have a well-established, well-structured private sector-led national carrier”.
On the concession, Alabi said N297 million was budgeted for Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, last year and the ministry is also proposing N200 million in the 2021 budget.
“The fact that the money is there in the budget does not mean it was released or utilised; since we began this project, the amount spent on the activities of carriers so far, if I am not mistaking, is N350 million.
“By the grace of God, I want to assure this committee and indeed all Nigerians that this national carrier will come to be and it will be for the benefit of our people,” he said.