By Nuel Suji, Abuja.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekwweremadu, Thursday expressed disappointment at the state of Nigerian airports, describing the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, as the worst of its kind in the continent of Africa.
Even as Senate set up an Ad hoc Committee to seek avenue for a total overhauling of the Nigeria’s Aviation sector with a view to addressing its teething problem, while making recommendations for its repositioning.
“I just returned from Kenya and had the opportunity to touch on three international airports, Kenya International Airport, Lagos International Airport and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, I feel sad to say that among all, Abuja Airport is the worst. I feel something has to be done,” Ekweremadu said during the debate on the floor of the senate.
In his contribution, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu lamented the state of Aviation industry in Nigeria concluding that his recent experiences had shown that even the Abuja Airport remain the worst of the airports he had seen in Africa.
He expressed support for the motion which according to him would assist Nigeria to overcome the challenges the aviation industry has been having in the event that the ad hoc committee did a good job.
The ad-hoc Committee as set up, will against this background carry a comprehensive investigations into the circumstances and problems militating against the growth of the aviation industry in Nigeria for the purpose of addressing its immediate and remote challenges.
The Senate took the decision during its plenary after unanimously adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Alla on the unstable position of the Nigerian aviation industry and the need to revive it.
While presenting the motion, Na’Alla said the near crisis situation of the aviation sector in Nigeria should be of paramount concern to all, more so as domestic airlines have started requesting for bailout.
Na’Allah recalled that over the past few years, Nigeria had registered not less than 25 Private airlines which were fully in operation at one point or the other in the country, lamenting that all the airlines had collapsed due to the problems and frustrations embedded in the operating environment.
He listed some of the collapsed airlines as Nigeria Airways, Triax Air, Sosoliso, Dasab, Kol Kol Airline, Harka, Harko, ADC, Okada, Gas Airline, Hold Trade Airline, Associated Airline, Chachangi, Premium Air Services, IRS, Air Nigeria, Savanah Air, Med View, Albarka, Concord Air and others.
Na’Alla noted that there had been previous intervention by the government to save the sector with bailouts, whereas such efforts produced little or no results because of the inclement climate by which domestic airlines operate in Nigeria.
He noted that the operating environment for airline operators in Nigeria has never been conducive to support a healthy growth of the sector, a reason he stressed Nigeria up till date has not been able to get and manage its own airline like many other countries.
The environment in Nigeria, according to him is uncoordinated, non professionalized amid what he described as personal interest guided policies by ministers, captains of industries within the country.
He also lamented the case of overbloated federal agencies which he said were established specifically for supporting the Aviation Industry, whereas such agencies have been feeding fat with multiple charges and taxes they had put in place.
He however, described Nigeria as a country in the world with the most costly environment to operate aircrafts, alluding also to the monopolistic tendencies of some stakeholders within the industry with intent to enrich themselves at the expense of the public as part of the problems.
Senator Shehu Sani in his contribution lent support to the motion as he also lamented the inability of Nigeria to successfully operate an airline, just as past efforts towards doing so had failed woefully.
He urged the Senate to look into the circumstances that have been militating against the ability of Nigeria to operate a national airline, whereas smaller countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Turky and others have been doing so successfully.