Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has declared that there is no going back on the concessioning of the four major airports in the country.
The airports are Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
Sirika revealed that Nigeria needed to address the several infrastructure gaps in its aviation industry in order to measure up with the global standards.
Speaking in an interview with journalists at the on-going International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) third World Aviation Forum (WAF) in Abuja, Sirika said that infrastructure deficits in Nigeria and in deed in Africa were enormous and called on the continent’s governments to take a proactive steps in address them.
He said that Nigeria with a population of estimated 170 million people, represented half of the entire population in West Africa, ought to play a leading role not just in the sub-region, but on the continent.
Sirika insisted that aviation was the only hope for the Nigerian economy to grow and create jobs for the teeming youths.
“Aviation is certainly the way to go and the only way for our country to develop. This ICAO’s forum is the only way to develop the sector in this country,” he said.
He said there was no going back in the planned concession of four major airports in the country in the first phase of the exercise.
He insisted that the government would not contribute any amount of money towards the exercise, but would ensure that credible firms either local or foreign take charge of the airports.
Besides, Dr. Olumuyiwa Aliu, the President of ICAO in his speech, urged the aviation industry players to take the full advantage of hosting the three days forum in Nigeria and commended Sirika for agreeing to hold the event in Nigeria.
He emphasised that ICAO under his leadership would continue to encourage less developed aviation industry to develop its infrastructural needs.
Mr. Guislain Pierre, the Deputy President African Development Bank (AfDB) posited that African aviation was critical for development despite its current position in the global industry.
He said that there should be collective efforts to develop the sector not just on the continent, but worldwide.
He said AfDB was happy to partner ICAO in organising the forum, stressing that the partnership would further grow the sector in Africa.
Nigeria is the first country in the world to host the ICAO’s World Aviation Forum (IWAF) outside the ICAO headquarters.
The programme in its third stage, was held at the ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Canada in 2015 and 2016.
According to a publication from ICAO, “The third ICAO World Aviation Forum will explore how development of aviation infrastructure plays a key role in the achievement of the visionary United Nation’s Agenda 2030 and African Union Agenda 2063 prosperity objectives, with a special focus on funding and financing of airport, air navigation, and other aviation infrastructure projects.