By Chinelo Obogo
Experts have expressed concern over the allocation of N71.3 billion for capital projects for the Ministry of Aviation in the 2022 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari last week.
Speaking to Daily Sun, they said the amount which is approximately 0.43 per cent of the N16.39 trillion which makes up the 2022 budget is grossly inadequate as the industry was the most hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of N78,992,731billion which is 0.48 per cent of the total budget was mapped out for the Ministry of Aviation out of which N71,300,182 is for capital expenditure.
During a State House briefing in Aso Villa last Thursday, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said that N20billion would be required for the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. He also said that the Federal Government plans to spend N400million as working capital on a national carrier, describing it as an ongoing project.
Experts , who spoke to Daily Sun, said the funds allocated to aviation is inadequate as the sector is in dire need of human and capital development as many airports nationwide are under straits.
President of National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Abayomi Agoro, said: “The amount is grossly inadequate to pay sufficient attention to a sector that’s worst hit by the pandemic. Our aviation agencies are being underfunded and the BASA funds needs to be reinvested in some of this important capital projects. Some airports facilities need urgent attention. For example, air navigation facilities, communication and landings aids can’t be ruled out. Now that the sector is gaining restoration, it is very important to invest in human capital development, trainings . The industry deserve more funding than less a digit appropriation.”
While the chairman of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), FAAN branch, Danjuma Ahmed said, “Energising the industry doesn’t depends on government spending on the industry, rather it’s determined by free movement which is dependent on the opening up of the sky by countries, the only impact from the budget is capital project initiation or completion which will positively affect the supply value chain.