Aviation stakeholders laud Sirika’s appointment; set agenda for new minister

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Lagos – Stakeholders in the aviation sector on Wednesday lauded the appointment of Capt. Hadi Sirika, as the Minister of State for Aviation by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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The stakeholders in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos said the appointment showed that Buhari was committed to revamping Nigeria’s aviation industry.

They urged Sirika to focus attention on the construction of a maintenance hanger, establishment of a national carrier, capacity building and evolving workable policies that would grow domestic airlines.

Retired Capt. Dele Ore, immediate past President of Aviation Round Table (ART), said Sirika’s appointment was a big departure from the past as those hitherto sent to aviation had little or no knowledge about the sector.

Ore said: “He will be one of the people to understand the scenario because he is a former pilot and now a politician.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]“He has in the first instance less than four years to pilot the affairs of the sector but aviation industry is the easiest to be administered.

“He should look at the policy that we have because the current one, National Civil Aviation Policy 2013, has been bastardised.’’

According to him, policies such as double destinations and multiple entry points were destroying Nigeria’s domestic carriers and leading to their rapid extinction from the industry.

“The President talked about massive employment for Nigerians. We can do that by putting the right things in place in the aviation sector.

“Things like a national carrier can help in that aspect. Since the Nigerian Airways was liquidated, the manpower needs of the industry have dried up,’’ he said.

Ore also appealed to Sirika to allow aviation agencies, especially the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to carry out their oversight functions and economic regulations without interference.

Also speaking, retired Capt. Samuel Adewunmi, urged Sirika to bring his wealth of experience to bear in taking Nigeria’s aviation industry to international standard.

Adewunmi, a former pilot with the defunct Nigerian Airways, said inconsistent policies and appointments had led other African countries like South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya to overtake Nigeria in the aviation sector.

“Despite over 90 years of aviation in Nigeria, the country can still not carry out Check D maintenance on aircraft.

“It is one of the major ways of encouraging capital flights outside the country.

“So he should economically think about improving aviation in this country and bring it in competition with other economies of the world.

“We need a national hangar, which can be situated anywhere in the country,’’ Adewunmi said.

A former aircraft maintenance engineer of the defunct Nigerian Airways, Mr Sheri Kyari, advised the new minister to hit the ground running due to the enormous challenges facing the industry.

Kyari said: “Most of the airports in the country should be equipped with navigational facilities so that there can be night flying by domestic airlines.

“We hope that he takes very seriously the aspiration of the Federal Government in the area of establishing a national carrier.

“A national carrier can come into effect by the end of next year. Once it is operational, it can begin to provide employment for our people.’’

He also urged Sirika to focus on building the capacity of aviation personnel and establish a comprehensive aircraft maintenance facility through a public-private partnership. (NAN)

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