From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Nigeria will continue to make sizable investments in the provision of aviation infrastructure for the safe, secure, environmentally friendly, and sustainable economic development of international civil aviation, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
President Buhari made the commitment Tuesday in Abuja when he received in audience the ICAO President, Salvatore Sciacchitano.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, recalling the long history between Nigeria and ICAO, Buhari declared: “Nigeria has been a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) since 1962, and has continued to make valuable contributions to the ICAO Council’s work and it’s activities.
“This country has been playing key role in supporting the implementation of ICAO Policies and Programmes internationally, and particularly in the African region.
“To this end, Nigeria has ratified all international air law instruments like the Montreal Protocol and amendments to some articles of the Chicago Convention,” he said.
President Buhari told his guest that Nigeria was championing the cause of Aviation safety, security and facilitation in Africa.
According to him, “I have recently signed into law Civil Aviation Act 2022. This is to reposition the industry to ensure continuous compliance with ICAO standards and to meet the challenges of a dynamic and rapidly growing air transport sector,” while assuring the ICAO President that “aviation industry in Nigeria is increasing by leaps and bounds.
“I have approved also the establishment of Aviation and Aerospace University in Abuja to cater for research and development in the sector as well as the managerial challenges. In this regard, Nigeria has already started receiving the support of ICAO members like Qatar under the No Country Left Behind Initiative,” he noted.
The President expressed confidence that the aviation sector in Nigeria would continue to grow, affirming that “the roadmap of the Ministry of Aviation superintended by Senator Hadi Sirika, is on course and together with other reforms of this administration will be sustained.”
While congratulating Mr. Sciacchitano on his re-election as President of the ICAO Council for the second term, President Buhari also appreciated the support Nigeria had enjoyed under his leadership, which, according to him, culminated in Nigeria’s re-election during the 41st Session of the ICAO Assembly.
He informed the ICAO President that the aviation sector under this administration has more than doubled, noting that “It became the fastest growing of our economy Pre-COVID, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).”
According to him, “Passenger numbers were raised from 8 – 30 million. The five new airport terminals have added 50 million passengers to our capacity. All these within the time we are in government, namely seven and half years.”
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in a brief remark, informed the President that the ICAO Air Services Negotiation (ICAN) event being hosted by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority “will provide States, either on-site or participating remotely, with a central meeting place to conduct bilateral, regional or plurilateral air services negotiations and consultations, as well as networking opportunities for policy makers, regulators, air operators, service providers and other stakeholders.”
He expressed delight at the post-COVID recovery of the country’s aviation sector, describing it as the second best in the world.
The ICAO President, told President Buhari that the meeting offered an opportunity of interaction between the participants from about 160 countries and the Civil Aviation Authorities in the country, adding that more than 4,000 agreements are being signed by way of bilateral agreements.