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Aviation Industry: Leveraging On ICAO President’s Visit To Nigeria

Sumaila Ogbaje

The world aviation regulatory body, International Civil Organisation (ICAO), recently scored Nigeria high on aviation security during its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme in the country.

Analysts observe that the positive scorecard on Nigeria’s aviation security at a time when the global aviation industry is faced with sundry security challenges is indicative of the commitment of the Federal Government to ensure a safe and secured airspace.

The President of the ICAO Council, Dr Bernard Aliu, who unveiled the scorecard during his recent visit to Nigeria, said that the country scored 96 per cent on security audit while the safety audit score would be ready soon.

By implication, analysts note that Nigeria’s current high score in aviation security will translate to several benefits as the global aviation body has lined up several programmes to further boost the nation’s aviation industry.

Aliu, a Nigerian, said he was elated at the achievement, observing that ICAO was willing to support Nigeria to improve on areas it has deficiency.

He pledged that ICAO would help to reposition the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, to become a regional aviation training centre as part of the organisation’s plan to support capacity building in the sector in Africa.

Aliu added that ICAO was determined to partner Nigeria in order to nip in the bud any security threat in the airports and in the airspace, stressing that security was one of the critical issues in aviation.

According to him, his major challenge as ICAO President had been to raise the level of implementation of ICAO standards among member countries, their level of resources notwithstanding.

Aliu said that for Nigeria to be a hub, strong indigenous carriers and well developed and equipped airports needed to be in place.

“With a professional as the minister of state for aviation, there is no doubt that the sector will be transformed soon, especially by pooling ICAO resources at the disposal of Nigeria to develop the aviation sector.

“We inaugurated a campaign a few years ago so that no country is left behind, the focus of which is to support our developing states.

“ICAO is an organisation of 191 countries; some are much endowed and some are less endowed and all the member-states have to fulfil the same standards and recommended practices; there is no short cut.

“In doing that, we cannot cover the whole 191 states; we have to work with regional offices and in Africa, Nigeria will be the number one candidate,’’ Aliu said.

Commending Aliu’s visit, the Nigerian aviation authorities expressed determination to consolidate on its current high security rating by ensuring that all the recommendations by ICAO are implemented.

Mr Saleh Dunoma, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), reiterated the authority’s commitment to sustain the standards achieved following the recent ICAO audit.

Dunoma informed Aliu that the new international terminals being constructed simultaneously in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu, would increase capacity and improve passenger facilitation in the country.

He added that the passenger traffic at the airports had increased from 4.4 milion to 15 million per annum in the past 12 years, adding that FAAN would also expand its capacity to accommodate envisaged growth.

Dunoma commended the ICAO president, whom he described as “an icon, who has positively impacted aviation globally.’’
He emphasised that his policy of “no country left behind’’ had addressed the challenges faced by the sector, especially in developing countries.

Commenting on ICAO’S ratings, the Chairman, Ministerial Committee on Aviation Security, Air Commodore Hambali Tukur, described the visit of the ICAO president as a good sign for the industry and the country.

Tukur, therefore, urged the Federal Government to implement all the recommendations made by the ICAO boss in order to enthrone the highest level of aviation security in the continent.

According to him, given the place and importance of aviation around the world, there must be adherence to certain minimum standards for the sake of passengers and all participants in the industry.

“It is good for ICAO to from time to time, carry out this audit and advise on how to improve aviation safety and security not only in Nigeria but all over the world.

“Like I said earlier, for the ICAO president to come to Nigeria, it shows the importance the world body attaches to the nation’s civil aviation, especially the change in the new administration,’’ he said.

Tukur also commended Aliu for the decision of ICAO to make the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, a regional training centre in Africa, describing it as a premier institution in Africa.

He said the college should be given its pride of place in the region through necessary upgrades and transformation into a world class aviation college.

Tukur further said that the establishment of a national carrier would help boost the contribution of the aviation sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), noting that many countries had sustained their economies through aviation.

He, however, advised that adequate steps should be taken to ensure that the country did not repeat the mistakes that led to the demise of the defunct Nigerian Airways.

According to him, the economy must be able to sustain the aviation industry before a country can have a national carrier, because it is foreign currency dependent.

“We don’t manufacture things that the industry use; that means there would be high demand of foreign currency to take off to such a level that we would be able to use local content.

“Many countries, even within the African region, have moved aviation to such a position that their economy depends on it.

“Take Ethiopia for instance, Ethiopian Airline is world standard because it is part of the Star Alliance and it is contributing greatly to the economy of that country.

“The same thing will happen if Nigeria is able to marshal its resources and give the aviation industry the boost it needs with the establishment of a national carrier,’’ he said.(NANFeatures)

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