From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that Nigeria will deploy more investments aimed at providing infrastructure and facilities for safe, secure, environmentally friendly and sustainable civil aviation.
The President, spoke Tuesday while receiving in audience the Secretary-General of ICAO, Juan Carlos Salazar, at the State House, Abuja.
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According to a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said Nigeria will support the ideals and aspirations of ICAO and achievement of its strategic objectives, in collaboration with other member states of the organisation.
He said: “Nigeria became a member of ICAO Council in 1962, and since then, it has continued to make valuable contributions to the Council’s work and its activities.
“It is pertinent to also mention that Nigeria has been playing a key role in supporting the implementation of ICAO Policies and Programmes internationally, and particularly in the African region.
“To this end, Nigeria has ratified international air law instruments like the Montreal Protocol and amendments to some articles of the Chicago Convention. Nigeria is also championing the cause of Aviation safety, security and facilitation in Africa,” he said.
The President told the ICAO delegation that he has approved the establishment of Aerospace University in Abuja to cater for research and development as well as provide manpower for the industry.
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“In this regard, Nigeria is looking forward to the continued support of ICAO under its ‘No Country Left Behind’ initiative,” he added.
President Buhari also noted that the Nigerian Government has established independent agencies in order to enhance 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 management of government-owned airports; the Nigerian Meteorological Agency for meteorological services; and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, the nation’s main aviation training organisation, established in 1964 in collaboration 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 Security Plan,’’ the President said.
The president explained that Nigeria, as part of its support, has over time, seconded auditors to support various ICAO programmes in the areas of safety and security.
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“We have also contributed experts on various ICAO technical panels, commissions and working groups.
“The Government of Nigeria has adopted a civil aviation policy, which is centred on liberalisation and Public-Private-Partnerships Initiative. These have resulted in huge investments in the nation’s airports infrastructure and services, increased capacity utilisation and phenomenal increase in the number of domestic operators. Indeed, the domestic and international traffic has experienced a tremendous growth since our assumption of office in 2015.
“Nigeria is the headquarters of the Regional Safety Oversight Organisation, the Banjul Accord Group Aviation Safety Oversight Organisation and also, a major contributor and participant in the Regional Accident Investigation Agency, the Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency,” he added.
According to the President, Nigeria recently made a robust donation to the ICAO voluntary Air Transport Fund in order to be part of the Global efforts for recovery from COVID-19 crisis.
“We have also made significant financial contribution to the Safety and Human Resource Development Funds, in addition to hosting several ICAO meetings and regional workshops, including the widely acclaimed successful third ICAO World Aviation Forum, as well as several other workshops on safety oversight,’’ he said.
Also speaking at the event, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, commended President Buhari for giant strides taken under his administration in the areas of aviation safety, security and development.
“Our profile improved significantly during your tenure, Mr President. Passengers rose from 8 million to 18 million in four years, while security and safety also went up significantly,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, the ICAO Scribe lauded what he called “the leadership role Nigeria plays in civil aviation in Africa,” saying the country’s record is one of the most impressive in the world.
“The number of airports have doubled, passengers are growing in spite of COVID-19. The record of safety is the most important performance indicator of all. I recognise the excellent work by your government to maintain high standards, in line with international best practices,” Salazar said.
Stressing that it’s important to maintain the track record, the ICAO Secretary-General stressed that there was no end line in civil aviation, “we keep chasing targets that go on and on.”
He urged President Buhari to sustain the support being given to the sector, to attract further investment, tourism, and continued growth.