Fast-Track Planned Concession Of Four Major Airports, Buhari Tells Sirika

(L-R): The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor of Lagos State, Bbabjide Sanwo-Olu, and others during an inspection tour of the new terminal of the MMIA in Lagos on March 22, 2022.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed Senator Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation to fast-track the planned concession of the four major airports in the country.

The President also asked the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed to source funds for the immediate construction of a second runway for the Abuja Airport.

Buhari gave the directive on Tuesday during the commissioning of the new terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos constructed by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC).

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He also directed the Ministry of Finance to work with the Aviation Ministry in ensuring the delivery of the two projects.

According to him, the concessioning of the four terminals; Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Abuja would further propel development to the sector and grow the country’s economy.

The President also lauded the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for the completion of the new terminal, stressing that it would further create more jobs for qualified Nigerians, especially the youth.

Beyond that, the President said that the new terminal would create an additional 3,000 direct and indirect jobs, while the sector’s contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would further be enhanced.

“This event showcases our strong commitment to the growth of the Nigerian economy despite the challenge of finance facing the country. The commitment of this administration includes agriculture, aviation and infrastructure development,” he said.

“Our aviation roadmap developed in 2016 has been consistent with infrastructure development. We have designated Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports as free trade zone, while we also removed Valued Added Tax (VAT) from air transport.”

In his speech, Sirika said that the commissioning was a testament to the fact that President Buhari meant business for the aviation industry.

Sirika insisted that the aviation industry remained the only way by which the 2063 agenda of the African Union (AU) could be realised.

The minister declared that one of the aims of the Ministry was to grow aviation contributions to the GDP to 5 per cent at $4.7 billion from its present 0.06 per cent in the next few years.

He explained that there would be air-rail connectivity between the domestic and international airports to shorten the traffic time between both terminals.

Besides, Sirika mentioned foreign exchange and Jet A1 as some of the challenges confronting the aviation industry, lamenting that these had led to numerous setbacks for the sector.

He appealed to President Buhari to direct the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to import Jet fuel in good quantity for operators in the industry.

“It is pertinent to mention that we stand to gain significant benefits in restoring and maintaining connectivity within, to and from the country. Analysis from IATA shows that aviation sector provides N341bn GDP contribution, 160,000 local jobs created and N535bn expenditure from visitors will be solely generated from restoring and maintaining this connectivity,” Sirika said.

“Consequently, Sir, these are the numbers at risk if that connectivity is threatened by the continuous travel restrictions due to current pandemic. Mr. President, aviation business suffers from issue of access to foreign exchange by local and foreign airlines and the ability to repatriate blocked funds.

“Nigeria currently holds $283m of foreign airlines funds blocked in the country. I would like to humbly request the support of the Central Bank, through the directive of Mr. President, to prioritise access to forex for all carriers both local and foreign and to work out a mechanism to clear the existing backlog urgently and prevent subsequent build up.”

Also speaking, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos State lauded Buhari for giving infrastructure priority in its government.

He noted that the three projects commissioned on Tuesday; Fertiliser, Lekki refinery and the new terminal would change the status of the country.

According to him, they would not only create jobs for the teeming populace but will also open up the country for foreign investments and opportunities.

The new Lagos terminal has the capacity to process 14 million passengers per annum and built on a land mass of approximately 56,000 square metres with 66 check-in counters.

Other facilities in the terminal include five baggage collection carousels, 16 Immigration desks at arrival, 28 Immigration desks at departure, eight security screening points, six-passenger boarding bridges (out of which two have already been installed), two food courts, four premium lounges and 22 guest rooms and spa.

Other facilities are 16 airline ticketing offices, visa on arrival and port health facility, as well as praying area, more than 3,000 square metres of duty-free space and approximately 5,000 square metres of lettable utility space.

CCECC had commenced construction of four new terminals at Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt airports in 2013 with the completion period fixed for 20 months.

The Nigerian Government had secured $500 million loan deal from the Exim Bank of China for the projects, while additional counterpart funding of $100 million was added by the Nigerian Government.

Nigeria Air To Take Off By April 2022, Says Aviation Minister

This screengrab was taken at the unveiling of the name and logo of the national carrier at the Farnborough International Airshow in London on July 18, 2018.

 

The national carrier, Nigeria Air is expected to take off in April 2022, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has announced.

This follows the approval of the outline business case for the establishment of the national carrier by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday.

Sirika, who made the announcement in Abuja while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting, explained that it was the sixth attempt to get the outline business case approved.

“Today in Council, civil aviation presented two memoranda,” he said. “The first one is approval for the award of contract for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, including software support and training, which will be located in Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

“The next one also is approval of the outline business case for the establishment of the national carrier and this is the sixth time the memorandum appeared before Council. The sixth time, we got lucky to be passed by Council.”

“The structure of the proposed airline, government will be owning not more than five per cent. So, five per cent is the maximum equity that government will take, then 46 per cent will be owned by Nigerian entrepreneurs.

“So, if you add that, it’s 51 per cent. So, it’s 51 per cent majority shareholding by Nigerians and then 49 per cent will be held by strategic equity partner or partners that will be sourced during the procurement phase, which is the next phase,” the minister stated.

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When the outline kicks off expectedly in April 2022, according to him, it will generate about 70,000 jobs in the first few years – a number higher than the aggregate number of employees in the Federal Civil Service workforce.

“But one important item is the AU agenda 2063, which speaks to the integration of Africa, which speaks to the cause and trade within Africa that is intra-Africa and, to which also, another flagship project of AU agenda 2063 called the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

“Now, the only way, the quickest way that you can integrate Africa is by air because if you want to interconnect all the 54 nations of Africa, via rail or road, or waterways, which is even impossible, the quantum of money that you need to do all of these, the time it will take to develop this infrastructure, as well as the maintenance cost, is almost prohibitive,” he added.

Noting that such a project is doable but time-taking, Sirika believes within a year, the African countries can be connected via aviation with the right policy in place.

He said the government arrived at the choice of name, colour, and logo, among others for the national carrier after a national debate that involved thousands of people.

“It was launched also in Farnborough as far back as 2018,” the minister said. “So, the business case is a public document. It will be on our website; you can download it and we can give you copies. This airline will pick up and start, by God’s grace, on or before April 2022.”

On the Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, he explained that it would allow all of the activities of civil aviation regulation to be done electronically on one platform.

“It is called ‘the truth machine’ in the quotation in Europe because all of the truth of regulation of civilisation will appear on this platform, it’s an extremely important software that the world has now come to terms with,” said Sirika.

Airport Concession Open To All Qualified Entities, States Exempted – FG

A file photo of the front view of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

 

The concession of four major airports in the country is open to all qualified entities except state governments, the Federal Government has said.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made this known as the drive for the concession of the nation’s major airports gathers momentum.

He made the remarks at a Zoom meeting held on Tuesday to update the sector on the concession plans for the four international airports.

They include Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano, Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers, and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

Sirika explained that the decision to concession the airports was to ensure that the government was relieved of control of the aviation facilities.

He also assured industry workers, especially those of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) that no worker would lose his or her job on account of the exercise.

According to the minister, the concession is a step in the right decision as it will boost the nation’s earnings.

He disclosed that the Murtala Muhammed Airport terminals would bring investment worth over N30 billion annually, which would be aided by the construction of a rail line to link both the domestic and international terminals.

The minister, however, informed the meeting that there was an urgent need for infrastructure investments and modernisation, saying the facilities required investments in runway maintenance, among others.

“There is relatively low asset utilisation due to the limited opening hours of other smaller Nigerian airports; lack of terminal capacity as the airports fall short of gates, stands, and check-in desks.

“The airports have not been designed as international hubs but operate separate international and domestic terminals,” he said.

Federal Government Cries Out Over N37bn Debt Owed By Airlines

 

The Federal Government has raised concerns over a 37 billion naira debt owed by airlines.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika told a media conference today that the airline debt owed agencies like Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has accumulated for over thirteen years and contributes to the poor management of Nigeria’s civil aviation sector.

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According to Mr. Sirika, the Federal Government will, in line with current reforms double down on such debtors like the Bi-Courtney which owes N14 billion.

He said, “It is about N37 billion that they (airlines) are owing, especially Arik, the culprit. I know they are owing us about N14 billion. If you owe the government, you owe FAAN. Bi-Courtney owes about N14 billion as of the last count. It has not paid a single dime since the time it started to run the terminal building. And we have not ceased giving him electricity, water, fire cover, and so on. He hasn’t paid a dime for 13 years.”

Based on the position, the government is in intensifying plans towards the concessioning of international airports in the country by the early second quarter of 2022 and has been duly consulted organised labour, Sirika added.

The minister also stated that a total of 67 accidents have occurred in the last five years, of which 48 have been reported under the present administration to drive transparency in the system.

Nigeria’s Aerospace University Gets Provisional Approval

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika (File Photo)

 

The National Universities Commission (NUC) has assured the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Aviation that it would expedite action on the concept document submitted by the Minister of Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika for the establishment of an Aviation and Aerospace University in the country.

Executive Secretary of the NUC, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, who gave the assurance after receiving the note from the Minister on Friday, said the commission will engage some professors to perfect the concept note for immediate approval.

“I can assure you that by the end of the month (July), we are going to have a brand new University, the first of its kind in Abuja, first African University dedicated to aviation and aerospace study in the country,” Rasheed said, adding that the value of such university can’t be quantified.

“This aviation under your guidance, will be the first to show the way that we can support the establishment of a specialized university that won’t only serve us but serve the African region and the International community,” he stated.

Presenting the concept note earlier, Senator Sirika who was accompanied by the ministry’s permanent secretary, directors and heads of agencies, said that the ‘African Aviation and Aerospace University Abuja’ will be dedicated to research and development of knowledge in Aviation and Aerospace.

The minister stated that the decision to establish the specialised university was informed by the need to fill some identified gaps in the growth and development of the aviation sector.

“When we took the leadership in civil aviation, we identified and understood the gap in the growth and development of civil aviation in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. We are deficient in research and development in civil aviation and aerospace technology and that has caused a lot of underdevelopment of the sector and made us to be backward.

“We have been working three to four years now on this and we developed a concept note based on the advice by Executive Secretary NUC for critique and that will fast track the process of setting up the University. We have come up with concept note of what will be the focus of this University” he explained.

“The potential of this University to serve the market of civil aviation and aerospace within the continent cannot be overemphasized. Once the University takes off, a lot will happen and it will change the dynamic,” he added.

Sirika expressed gratitude to the Executive Secretary and his team for guiding the process leading up to the submission of the concept note, and the assurance that it will be expeditiously concluded.

FG Considers Reopening Of Kano, Enugu, Port Harcourt Airports – Minister

A file photo of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

 

Nigerian authorities are considering the reopening of three international airports in the country, said the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The affected aviation facilities are the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State, the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu State, and the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers State.

In his remarks on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, the minister noted that the Federal Government planned to resume international flight operations at the airports.

According to Sirika, members of the task force will be visiting the airports for simulation exercises to ascertain their readiness for international operations.

He stated that a technical working group comprising relevant agencies involved in the facilitation of passengers had been set up to ensure that all standards required for seamless operations at the airports earmarked for the resumption of international flights were in place.

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The minister also announced the immediate resumption of catering services on domestic flights which were suspended at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He explained that the decision was taken into consideration of the businesses involved in the provision of in-flight refreshments which have been adversely affected by the suspension.

Sirika, however, said that modalities and protocols for the resumption of the services would be worked and rolled out by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which would be in line with international practices.

On the suspension of Emirates Airlines operations in Nigeria, he noted that discussions were ongoing to resolve the issues involved.

The minister also restated the country’s position on the impropriety of the extra COVID-19 tests the airline was demanding of Nigerian travellers.

He insisted that operations of the Emirates Airlines in and out of the country remained suspended, with the exemption of Cargo and Humanitarian flights.

FG To Speed Up Efforts For International Flights Resumption At Kano Airport, Says Sirika

A file photo of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

 

All that is necessary for the resumption of international flight operations at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano will be fast-tracked, the Federal Government has said.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, gave the assurance on Tuesday when he received a high-powered delegation from Kano State, led by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje at his office in Abuja.

He stated that the ministry was willing to reopen the airport for international flight operations, saying the continued suspension of international flights to and from the airport was denying the Federal Government and its agencies a lot of revenue.

According to Sirika, it does not make economic sense for the government to spend so much money as it has done in the airport and just decide to leave it inoperative with the attendant degeneration on infrastructure, redundancy amongst operational staff, revenue losses, and hardship to travellers, among other challenges.

He, however, explained that the decision to suspend international flights to and from the airport, like the ones in Enugu and Port Harcourt, was for health and security reasons.

The Minister acknowledged the hardship to the users of the airport, passengers, and service providers alike, and challenged Kano indigenes to create activities that would make the airport more viable through increased passenger traffic.

A file photo of Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

 

In his remarks, Governor Ganduje had informed the minister that the delegation embarked on the visit for two reasons.

The first, he noted, was to show appreciation to the Federal Government for the completion of the International Wing of the airport, and secondly to appeal for the resumption of international flight operations at the aviation facility.

The governor was concern about the effect of the continued suspension of international flights to and from the airport by passengers and service providers.

He stated that the Kano State government has put in place all that was necessary to make the state healthy for flights, including the mobilisation of the populace for the COVID-19 vaccination exercise.

The delegation on the visit to the minister included some members of the Kano State House of Assembly, representatives of the Emir of Kano, and members of the Kano Chamber of Commerce.

COVID-19: FG Approves N5bn Bailout Funds For Airline Operators, Others

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika

 

The Federal Government has approved the sum of N5billion as a bailout for airline operators and other business owners in the aviation sector to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the country’s aviation industry.

The announcement was made on Monday by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Minister said the sum of N4billion has been approved as a bailout for airline operators and an additional N1billion for other business owners in the aviation sector.

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Sirika says the government’s decision to offer the bailout is based on recognition of the pivotal role of the aviation sector to the Nigerian economy.

The Minister made the announcement when he appeared at the Senate for a public hearing in respect of the repeal and the reenactment of the laws establishing the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The announcement by the Minister comes after the Senate Committee on Aviation called on the Federal government to bail out airlines to cushion the effect of COVID-19.

However, the Chairman of the Senate committee on aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi says the amount for the proposed bailout is inadequate for airlines who are battling to survive.

UAE To Begin Issuance Of Visa To Nigerians From October 8 — FG

A file photo of the Minister of Aviation. Photo: [email protected]

 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has confirmed that it would begin the issuance of visas to Nigerians from Thursday, October 8, 2020.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced this on Tuesday.

“UAE confirmed that they will begin issuance of Visas from the 8th of October,  2020. Travelers to have a return ticket, hotel booking, negative PCR result & Health insurance (similar to Schengen requirement). Health insurance can be paid through travel agents/airline,” the Minister tweeted.

 

Sirika had earlier on September 30 announced that the UAE had written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, a development that made the Federal Government lift the ban it had earlier placed on Emirates Airlines.

“UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria,” the minister had tweeted.

Enugu Airport Set To Reopen On Sunday – Sirika

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, spoke to reporters after landing at the Enugu Airport on August 29, 2020.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, spoke to reporters after landing at the Enugu Airport on August 29, 2020.

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Saturday landed at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

It was the airport’s first aircraft landing since the Federal Government shut it down for rehabilitation work in August 2019.

According to Mr Sirika, plans are in top gear for the official handing over of the airport on Sunday, even as work continues at the arrival and departure hall sections.

“We are ready for tomorrow, the 30th,” Me Sirika said. “To God be the glory. We landed on the runway. The remaining news will be tomorrow.

“But I am glad that I am here and I am glad that we were able, also again, to achieve it on time and on budget.”

Nigeria To Resume International Flights On August 29

 

Nigeria will resume international flight operations on August 29, the Federal Government has announced.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the announcement on Monday in Abuja at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

“We are very glad today to announce that international flights will resume from August 29, 2020,” he said.

Sirika added, “However, what we have become used to – physical distancing, wearing of masks, washing of hands, temperature taking, etc will continue.”

He explained that the process for the resumption of international flights in the country would be similar to that of the domestic flight resumption.

According to the minister, the resumption will commence on Saturday next week at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He thanked Nigerians for their patience while the ban on international flights was enforced and gave an assurance that the protocols and procedures for resumption would be announced in due course.

“Just like we did with the domestic (flights resumption), it will start with Lagos and Abuja. The protocols, procedures, and processes, will be announced in due course.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announces the date for resumption of international flights at the PTF briefing in Abuja on August 17, 2020.

 

“So, all protocols exist, and they will continue alongside the opening of these airports,” said Sirika.

He explained, “In the beginning, there will be four flights into Lagos and four flights into Abuja daily, we will give further details on that in due course.

“It is the Task Force decision, not that of aviation (ministry) … under the leadership of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who is the chairman of PTF.”

The minister also announced the resumption of international flights via his Twitter handle.

House Of Architect Who Demolished Enugu Airport Fence Destroyed

House of Architect John Emejulu was destroyed on August 14, 2020.
House of Architect John Emejulu was destroyed on August 14, 2020.

 

The Enugu State Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) on demolished a residential building belonging to an architect John Jerry Emejulu, Channels Television can confirm.

Emejulu had earlier demolished part of the Enugu Airport fence claiming ownership of a portion of the land.

The Federal Government, on Thursday, condemned his actions and promised to take punitive actions.

Chairman of ECTDA, Dr. Josef Onoh, who supervised the demolition, denied that it was a reprisal action.

He said his agency obtained a court order to demolish the building after concluding that it was built on a waterway and needed to give way.

The private residence is situated along Eziokwe street, off Nike Lake road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu.

‘Totally Unacceptable’

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Thursday, said Mr Emejulu, accompanied by hundreds of armed thugs and bulldozers, had demolished up to 2km of the Enugu airport fence before the Nigerian Air Force and Police intervened to arrest the situation.

“This is certainly unfortunate, unbecoming,” Sirika said during a visit to the airport on Thursday. “Emejulu has done his best. But in doing his best, he has given the opportunity to government to show how not to wilfully destroy public assets belonging to 200 million people. It’s totally unacceptable.”

House of Architect John Emejulu was destroyed on August 14, 2020.
House of Architect John Emejulu was destroyed on August 14, 2020.

 

Sirika stressed that the airport fence demolition was carried out when President Muhammadu Buhari was devoting large amounts to the nation’s infrastructure, including the Enugu airport, which he noted had been abandoned for decades.

“Without hesitation, Mr President provided the funding” to revive the airport, Sirika said, but a “cantankerous, cranky individual” decided to disrupt the process.

Rubble from the demolished house of Architect John Emejulu.

 

“There is a government in place and it is wrong time to test our resolve,” the Minister said, adding that Mr Emejulu had threatened to destroy more properties within the airport but was only stopped by the swift intervention of security forces.

“I am sure he will regret this,” Sirika said. “And this is an opportunity for the government to show that no one can take the law into his hands and wilfully destroy national assets.

“We will not forgive him. The Chief of Air Staff, the Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of DSS will be directed to do the needful and bring him to book.

“For emphasis, airports are national security assets and we are determined to protect them.”