From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A voluntary think-tank of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under the auspices of APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign has praised President Muhammadu Buhari over what it described as an unprecedented revolution in the Nigerian aviation industry.
The Legacy group in a statement signed by the quartet of Barr Ismail Ahmed, Lanre Issa-Onilu, Tolu Ogunlesi and Salihu Moh Lukman said that the Buhari administration has kept faith with the Aviation Roadmap it launched in May 2016 aimed at transforming the sector, in terms of safety, infrastructure and economic viability.
It insisted that, in its determination to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, the Federal Government in 2020 released the sum of N5 billion in bailout funds, shared among airlines, ground handling companies, travel agencies, flight catering services operators, and other stakeholders.
Chronicling the successes it recorded, the group noted: ‘Just like in roads, rail, and ports, Nigeria’s Aviation Industry is undergoing a revolution, in terms of unprecedented investments in infrastructure and capacity-building, under the watch of President Buhari.
‘The APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign recognises major highlights of the roadmap to include the establishment of a National Carrier, development of Agro-Allied/Cargo Terminals, the concession of the major international airports, the establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Centre, the establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company, development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities), Aerospace University, designation of four international airports as Special Economic Zones, upgrade of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).
‘Since the launching of the aviation roadmap, the Ministry of Aviation has focused on implementation. In terms of infrastructure, the new terminals of the Port Harcourt, Abuja and Kano International Airports, inherited from the previous administration, have been completed, while the new Lagos Terminal is very close to completion. Brand new runways have been constructed at the Abuja and Enugu International Airports, in 2017 and 2020, respectively.
‘More than a dozen airports around the country have had Low-Level Windshear Alert Systems (LLWAS) installed, to improve flight safety. The Lagos and Abuja Airports have had the Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS) installed – which provides the capability for landing safely and accurately in conditions of near-zero visibility. Another three Nigerian airports have been scheduled to benefit this year.
‘The concession process for the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt International Airports – the four main international airports in the country – is ongoing, with the completion of the process scheduled for 2022.
‘A significant portion of the investment into the Aviation Sector has been focused on resolving issues and bridging gaps inherited from previous Administrations. One example is the payment of pensions owed to staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways. President Buhari approved that the backlog of almost twenty years is cleared, and has released funds to this effect,’ it noted in the statement.