Buhari pledges to increase investment in aviation safety and security

• Sirika justifies the shortage of aviation fuel and reiterates its global challenge

Deji Elumoye

President Muhammadu Buhari revealed that Nigeria will roll out more investments aimed at providing infrastructure and facilities for safe, secure, environmentally friendly and sustainable civil aviation.

This is just as the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, justified the current shortage of aviation fuel in the country, saying the situation was not unique to Nigeria alone.

The President, who spoke yesterday while receiving in audience the Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar, at State House, Abuja, said that the Nigeria would support the ideals and aspirations of ICAO and the achievement of its strategic objective. objectives, in collaboration with the other Member States of the Organization.

According to him, “Nigeria became a member of the Council of ICAO in 1962, and since then has continued to make valuable contributions to the work and activities of the Council.

“It is pertinent to also mention that Nigeria has played a key role in supporting the implementation of ICAO policies and programs internationally, and particularly in the African region.

“To this end, Nigeria has ratified international air law instruments like the Montreal Protocol and amendments to certain articles of the Chicago Convention. Nigeria is also championing the cause of aviation safety, security and facilitation in Africa.”

The President told the ICAO delegation that he had endorsed the establishment of the Aerospace University in Abuja, to cater for research and development as well as provide manpower to industry.

“In this regard, Nigeria looks forward to continued support from ICAO under its No Country Left Behind initiative,” he added.

Buhari also pointed out that the Nigerian government has established independent agencies to improve aviation safety and security, while ensuring effective and efficient provision and management of infrastructure in all aspects of the industry.

“These include the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for Safety and Economic Oversight of the Industry; the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency for Air Traffic Services; the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria for the management of government-owned airports; Nigeria Meteorological Agency for meteorological services; and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, the country’s main aviation training body, established in 1964 in conjunction with ICAO and the United Nations Development Programme.

“Nigeria is fully committed to working with other States and supporting the implementation of the Global Aviation Safety Plan, the Global Air Navigation Plan, as well as the Global Aviation Safety Plan,” said the president.

As part of its support, Buhari said Nigeria over time has seconded auditors to support various ICAO programs in the areas of safety and security.

“We have also provided experts to various ICAO technical panels, commissions and working groups.

“The Nigerian government has adopted a civil aviation policy centered on liberalization and the initiative of public-private partnerships. These have led to huge investments in the infrastructure and services of the country’s airports, increased capacity utilization and a phenomenal increase in the number of national operators.

“Indeed, domestic and international traffic has grown tremendously since we took office in 2015.

“Nigeria is the headquarters of the Regional Safety Oversight Organization, the Air Safety Oversight Organization of the Banjul Accord Group and also a major contributor and participant in the Regional Safety Investigation Agency accidents, the Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency,” he added.

According to the President, Nigeria recently made a significant donation to the ICAO Voluntary Air Transport Fund to be part of the global recovery efforts from the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have also made significant financial contributions to the Safety and Human Resources Development Fund, in addition to hosting several ICAO regional meetings and workshops, including the Third World Aviation Forum of the widely acclaimed ICAO, as well as several other safety oversight workshops,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, Sirika commended Buhari for the giant strides made under his administration in the areas of aviation safety, security and development.

“Our profile has improved considerably during your tenure, Mr. President. Passengers have increased from eight million to 18 million in four years, while safety and security have also increased significantly,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, the ICAO Scribe hailed what he called “the leadership role Nigeria is playing in civil aviation in Africa”, saying the country’s record was one of the impressive in the world.

“The number of airports has doubled, passengers are increasing despite COVID-19. The safety record is the most important performance indicator of all. I recognize the excellent work of your government in maintaining high standards, in line with international best practices,” Salazar said.

Stressing the importance of maintaining the track record, the ICAO Secretary General stressed that there is no dividing line in civil aviation, “we continue to pursue goals that continue again and again “.

He urged Buhari to maintain support for the sector, attract new investment, tourism and continued growth.

Speaking to reporters after the visit, the Minister of Aviation reiterated that the shortage of aviation fuel with its high cost was not unique to Nigeria.

Sirika also gave the reasons for the high cost of the product globally and what the government was doing to stop the spiraling price of the commodity.

His words: “The scarcity and high cost of the Jet A1 in civil aviation is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is a global phenomenon fueled by many factors.

“Some of them even include a low ability to refine the product. It is also in high demand around the world, it has increased business and increased the number of aircraft and users of this A1 jet.

“Plus also the Ukraine crisis and many others. It’s a time when crude itself is so expensive today, it’s in the hundreds of dollars a barrel and only the high cost of the Jet A1 product at the Nigeria Also the uniqueness of the fact that we don’t refine the product, so to speak.

“And I spoke to the press a few days ago saying that by the grace of God maybe once the Dangote refinery comes online or if the government fixes the Port Harcourt refinery, which is now underway, we will begin to refine this product and sell it.

“And as a stopgap measure, stopgap measure, there is an agreement that the airline operators in Nigeria would appoint either among themselves or among other major oil distributors to have the opportunity to import this product. Then get the currencies needed to do this, and this will now increase supply and perhaps lower costs.

“So it’s not unique to Nigeria. And unfortunately we are going through this phase, but the civilization of time still survives the challenges. They happen, unfortunately, but then you see the civil aviation charts keep going up. We hope this is a temporary thing worldwide and we hope that Jet A1 will be very available everywhere and at a very good price.

“And we hope, in the future, that we will learn to eliminate all these carbon emitters and have much cleaner energy, which will be more readily available to everyone at a very lower cost to do air transport civilian, the preferred choice.”

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