The minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has disclosed that a total of N1 trillion was required to revamp the aviation sector.
Sirika revealed this yesterday at a public hearing on the need to rescue the ailing aviation industry from imminent collapse held at the behest of the house of representatives committee on aviation.
The minister, who allayed the fears of stakeholders maintained that the proposed concession of the airports would cater to the liabilities of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“The country has found itself in a quagmire. The economy is at the moment on a downturn and this has made it difficult for the government to fund the aviation sector.
“It will take about N1 trillion to turn the aviation industry around and the federal government cannot afford that now. These airports are not living up to their capacity and it can never do until they are improved upon.
“The only way we can achieve this is through concession. We are not willing to sell our airports but rather, put them to optimal use.
“We are not selling, privatising but only concessioning. We are convinced that it is the only way we can get this industry back on its feet,” the minister maintained.
“Fear of the unknown should not deter us from carrying out something that is viable and profitable to us. It is just for concerned stakeholders to understand what the proposed concession is all about.
“We have noted and shared the concerns of workers. I must say that for the liabilities, the transaction adviser will look at everything and those that are verified, will be settled,” Sirika stated.
He also informed the committee that a nine-man delivery team had been inaugurated to interface with the union on the concession adding that two slots was given to them.
“The delivery team will interact with labour unions as to the whole process. This is to ensure transparency and participation and to improve on other concessions like that of the Nigeria Ports Authority,” he said.
On the withdrawal of services of international airlines, the minister noted that it was a commercial decision taken by the operators adding that it was not in his place to talk them about it.
“It is a commercial decision taken by them and I am in no position to stop them or force them not to take such decision. The good thing about this is that Nigeria will be identifying its friends in this time of need.
“Even in the face of our present economic situation, some of these airline operators didn’t increase their fares while others did and it is nothing but financial blackmail on the latter’s part,” he explained.
Earlier, the speaker of the house of representatives, represented by his deputy, Yussuff Lasun, noted the need to ensure fiscal discipline in the use of public funds in the aviation sector and restore the confidence of Nigerians in the sector.
Lasun, who noted the sector’s encouraging contributions to the country’s GDP in recent years as well as its prospects of playing a major role in economic development, charged the committee to ascertain the challenges facing the sector in its efforts towards providing efficient service and sustainable means of livelihood to Nigerians.