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Gulf Of Guinea: Buhari Orders Takeover of Nigeria’s Airspace

• Promises To Address Debt Burden in Aviation Sector

President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Nigeria’s relevant agencies to immediately take over the roles of securing the nation’s Airspace, over the Gulf of Guinea, from Ghana. This is just as the President also called on the authorities of the Ministry of Aviation to expedited action on the setting up of a new national carrier, for the country.

The Permanent secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Binta Bello disclosed this to State House Correspondents shortly after meeting with President Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja The President who is also worried over the debt burden facing the sector, expressed concern over the enormous debt profile of Nigeria’s aviation sector, saying that his administration will act quickly to redress the situation.

‘‘I am concerned about the enormous debt profile in the aviation sector. The Federal Government has to do something quickly because safety, security and international respectability are involved here. “Our airports are the windows through which people see our country. Anybody coming into the country will likely come through the airports.

“If we cannot secure and maintain our infrastructure, it will reflect very badly on us,’ The President directed the Ministry of Aviation to speed up all processes and projects relating to the safety and security of Nigeria’s air transport system.

President Buhari further directed that counterpart funding for the upgrading of the international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu, should be captured in the 2016 budget. Mrs. Binta Bello said the five new International Airport Terminal Buildings were designed to meet the best international standards.

The five international terminals, she said, could cater for 62 million passengers annually when completed in the first quarter of 2016, with Lagos moving from 7 million passengers’ capacity to 25 million, Abuja moving from 5 million to 16 million, while Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu, will have the capacity for 7 million passengers each.

Mrs. Bello also stated that the President had instructed that the process of taking over the airspace commences immediately as the neighbouring countries now have the capacity to cover their ow airspace.

According to her “ We have a directive by the President to start the process of securing management of Nigerian Airspace over the gulf of Guinea which Ghana has been maintaining since 1945 and there is a move on the ground by Togo and Republic of Benin to take over the management of their own airspace from Ghana”

She assured Nigerians and the international community that the country’s airspace is safe and has just recorded a score of over 90 per cent by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Nigeria’s last national carrier which was founded in 1958, went under in 2003 and the country has since failed to resuscitate it or establish a new carrier.

“The President has directed the ministry to look into the possibility of having a national carrier as soon as possible” she said, Bello said the President had also been briefed on the four state-of-the-art terminals being constructed with Chinese Bank loan which will be ready by the first quarter of 2016.

“At the completion of this project Nigerian will appreciate the work that have been put into the project” she said adding that “the capacity of the terminal has been expanded to contain big aircraft such as the A380 airbus, there will be other commercial activities such as is obtained in any international airport”.

She said the hugely indebted to regulatory agencies under the Aviation Ministry, and some of the airlines were still struggling to maintain optimum operational capabilities.

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