Sirika aims to increase aviation contribution to Nigeria’s GDP

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… As Olowo advises Hadi Sirika on critical areas he should give attention to over the next 4 years.

Newly appointed minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said that he plans to help aviation contribute 1% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country while revealing that project to float the national carrier, Nigeria Air, is still in the works.

This is just as president of the aviation round table (ART), Gabriel Olowo, has urged him to move with haste as there is hardly any time to achieve the many deliverables he promised while he became the minister four years ago if he is to write his name on the sand of time.

The minister was received by aviation unions made up of the national Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) after his inauguration.

Sirika said, “this industry has a lot for Nigerians; it connects people, nations and markets. Every one airplane that comes into the country translates to creation of about 300 jobs. More than that, it is a catalyst growth for the economy of our country and contributes to the GDP. From what we have done, we have raised the contribution to the GDP from 0.4% to 0.6%. We believe that in the next one year, it will increase the GDP contribution by at least 1%. 200 million people, at the centre of Africa? Aviation for sure will add to the quality of lives in Nigeria.”

Responding to the unions’ surprise reception the minister said, “I truly appreciate the aviation workers for coming out in numbers to receive me. I am not sure if it has not broken me to pieces. Indeed, it did. I am being the macho man that I ought to be to hold back tears. This surprise by the grace of God will not be misplaced. We worked together as a family and I missed them. I never thought that I was coming back. I could not find a forum to say a big thank you to them. Now that we are back, we will still continue from where we started from. If there is need, we will tweak to make it better what we have done before in the interest of our country and our industry aviation.”

Sirika reiterates the collaboration of stakeholders in the country when he said “Nigerians should know that while we are here given the opportunity, we together with the stakeholders. The union and that staff. We drew a road map and we are following that road map. We will continue with the road map it needs adjustment; we will adjust it appropriately so that it will serve the industry better and be in tune with the presidential directive that everything must be pro-people. So, we will continue with the pro-people initiative of Mr. President. We will ensure that all our actions will be in the best interest of the people, the worker, the industry and the country in general.”

Citing the universal nature of aviation, Sirika commented that: “I want to point this out that to Nigerians and the world in general, there is only one aviation. There is no aviation B. Aviation is universal. It is the same aviation in China, America, South Africa and in Nigeria. We cannot work as island. We must work together because the standards are the same. Anything that affects someone in Niger will affect another person in Singapore. People should desist from seeing aviation as elitist. I use to read on paper and here on the news that, ‘How many people fly?’ it is not that. If Dangote has employed 100,000 people and he has to travel from one place to another in an aeroplane, it is not him that is travelling, but also the 100,000 workers.”

Meanwhile, advising the minister, Mr. Gbenga Olowo said he did not envy the minister because of the arduous tasks a ahead, and due to the fact that he made a lot of pronouncement in the past four years and expectations are so high.

“The next four years have no room for rhetorics. In fact, 2019 is already gone and 2023 is election year. He has barely 24 months to write his name in gold. He should put all his focus on measurable deliverable on:
1. Airport concession as planned and ensure to delivery of 2 – 3 Airport companies of Nigeria with the Task of modern terminal buildings with installed High Technologies and functional car parks that will make Lagos, Abuja, Kano a formidable West African Hub by 2025. This is doable judging from the case study of Ghana within a span of 4years.

2. Two – three ‘very strong’ flag carriers (along geopolitical and economic zones, North, East, West Lines). The sentiment that Nigerian airlines should parade minimum airworthy fleet of 25 aircraft each at a growth rate of 2.5% annually is desirable to compete strongly and achieve benefits latent in African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Gbenga Olowo, President of ART

“The three airlines’ fleet of aircraft combined will still not equate to Emirate Airlines aircraft fleet but still offers opportunity to compete globally. This is easily achievable through economic policy of cooperation, collaborations, mergers and acquisitions.

3. “Finally deliberate Market intervention to rescue market share for the three players in (2) above will be mandatory through:
a. Review of all existing Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) through periodic schedules for equity. b. Immediate reversal from all Multiple entry points in Nigeria to Single entry points. This is the necessary and sufficient condition for a viable and productive Aviation sector at Sirikas second coming,” Olowo concluded.

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