Sirika: National carrier ready 2021

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The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, on Wednesday, told the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that efforts at establishing a national carrier would come to fruition by 2021.

Sirika, who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting presided over President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the ministry submitted its scorecard to FEC.

He said that the report showed the resilience of civil aviation in terms of crisis, adding that it would also survive the shock created by Covid-19.

Sirika said that the report also showed that the implementation of the aviation roadmap had done a great deal of job for civil aviation.

According to him, civil aviation grew in the last quarter of 2019 by 15 per cent, which makes it the second fastest growing sector.

“The mandate that we were given in 2019, was to identify all stalled projects and ensure completion, which we have done;  about 40 of them; and you remember in the last dispensation, we identified 157 out of them; we have completed 134;

“This is 100 per cent and this time, we identified 40;  and we  are at the various stages of finishing them.

“Second is to complete construction works at airports and we told council that by the fourth quarter of 2021, we will finish construction work at the airports, all of the four airports.

“And then to implement effective maintenance and optimal use of airport facilities, that is being done; we are drawing up maintenance programme and other projects around these airports.

“We were also asked to ensure the establishment of national carrier; it is at very advanced stage; the outline business case is completed; the socio-economic impact of having a carrier has been added to outline business case.

“It will be coming for approval; then by 2021 quarter three, we will have the national carrier established; and the planes will be flying domestically.

“After certifying all of  the requirements, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and so on, we will begin international operations.’’

He said that through collaboration with the private sector, the sector had shown that it had the capacity to create 241,000 jobs in the country from civil aviation.

The minister said he reported that on the centrality of the aviation sector in the economy as it contributed a lot through tourism.

“We assumed $1000 expenditure by tourist intenders in Nigeria; and from our data, we have at least, one million tourists coming into Nigeria.

“If you multiply one million by $1000, it is $1 billion from tourist activities within the aviation sector.

“Now, if you go to agriculture and other sectors where aviation plays a huge role, you can see how we can impact on the economy, ‘’ he said.

Sirika said that Kano airport would be opened in April while efforts were being made to tackle the challenge at the hangars in Lagos airport.

He said there was also a  plan for a third terminal in Lagos aside the one being constructed at the domestic wing.

On his part, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu,  said he presented a performance update to council.

He said the part of his ministry’s mandate was to complete all ongoing dam and irrigation projects.

“Number two is to enhance implementation of water sanitation and hygiene programme including the need to take Nigeria out of open defecation by 2025.

“Third mandate is for us to complete the Master Plan for the development of Rivers Niger and Benue basins; number four is to support the National Livestock Transformation Programme.

“Number five is to see how we can support the government to generate more employment and number six is to ensure that we bring out other possible avenues, in line with the President’s directive to ensure that 100 million Nigerians are taken out of poverty in the next 10 years, ‘’ he said.

Adamu said that his presentation was anchored on three pillars-National Water Resources Master Plan; UN sustainable development goals and Water Sector Roadmap, which he developed in 2015 and was approved by the president in 2016.

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