By Louis Ibah
Top officials of the Federal Ministry of Aviation have begun negotiations with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with a view to getting interest rates on loans for prospective investors in the industry reduced to 9 per cent.
Nigeria’s apex bank had left the country’s key interest rate unchanged at 14 per cent for more than a year, but ahead of plans to concession key airports to private firms, aviation ministry’s policymakers believe there is need to cut down interest rate to single digit and provide a special funding window particularly for local investors interested in the airports. The government’s vision is to create one or two hubs from the concessioned airports.
Commissioner/CEO of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr. Akin Olateru, who disclosed the ongoing meetings between the CBN and the aviation ministry, said the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, had informed him that he was heading the negotiation team for the ministry.
Olateru, who spoke while hosting union leaders from the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) in his office in Lagos, said a reduction in interest rate would go a long way in boosting standards in the industry.
“Sirika is working with CBN to ensure that interest rates on loans to investors in the sector was not more than 9 per cent. This would go a long way in improving standards in the sector,” Olaturu said.
He also enjoined investors to allow proven professionals to run their businesses, explaining that because of the quality of work done by investigators in AIB, no airline, aircraft or engine manufacturer had faulted the the agency on aircraft incident or accident reports released so far.
Said Olateru: “The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, recently told me that we should not rush our reports so that it can’t be faulted by anyone. So, I took the time to take him through the process to show him that our reports can’t be faulted. Our reports are not done individually again.
“Now, we have groups comprising experienced and inexperienced investigators. No one personalises reports again. And after the groups have finished their work with the draft reports, we send them to stakeholders for their comments and observations. On getting feedbacks, we now do a general review, which involves virtually all the investigators, before it goes out for proof reading.”
According to Olateru, if members of NAAPE comprising aircraft engineers and pilots in various organisations displayed professionalism in the discharge of their duties, the Nigerian aviation industry would experience more growth while the sector would continue to remain safe for flight operations.