Nigeria To Establish National Carrier In 2017 – Sirika

Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Nigeria, National CarrierThe Federal Government has announced that it will ensure the establishment of a national carrier for Nigeria before the end of 2017.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made the disclosure at a meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation.

He led some officials of the Ministry of Aviation to defend the ministry’s 2017 budget at the session with the lawmakers on Thursday at the National Assembly in Abuja.

Senator Sirika also highlighted some other projects that the ministry would focus on in 2017.

The Chairman of the committee, Representative Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, set the tone of the meeting as the lawmakers began by looking at how well the ministry implemented its 2016 budget.

While scrutinising the 2017 budget proposal of the ministry, some members of the committee expressed concern about the effect of the exchange rate on some of the proposed projects.

The lawmakers had some queries for the ministry and gave the officials two days to submit the outstanding documents.

Abuja Airport Closure: Amaechi, Sirika Appear Before Senate

Abuja Airport Closure: Amaechi, Sirika Appear Before SenateThe Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika and the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi have appeared before the Senate to explain the reason for the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja.

The Senate invited both ministers on Tuesday to explain the reason for the closure and rather explore other options besides closing the airport.

Lawmakers are opposing the closure of the airport which they say would bring hardship on local and international travellers.

The Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika, explained that to continue to operate, the Abuja airport will be unsafe and unreasonable as there are daily incidents on the runway.

Captain Sirika said that every flight plan always have alternate landing routes and Kaduna has always been the alternate for Abuja airport.

He also pointed out that most of the sections of the runway have collapsed and if multiple sections have collapsed, it means the entire runway has collapsed.

The runway in the Abuja airport was constructed in 1982 with a lifespan of 14 years which had been exceeded.

FG Commits To Closing Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport

Nnamdi Azikiwe International AirportThe Nigerian Government has restated its resolve to shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja from March 8.

The government also reassured international and local airline operators, as well as air travellers of adequate security at the Kaduna airport.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the assertion on Thursday at a special stakeholders’ meeting on the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

He emphasised the importance of the closure, pointing out the security and safety measures put in place to ease air transportation to and from Kaduna airport.

The Minister, who addressed all the concerns raised by the stakeholders, said that the closing of the airport was a painful decision taken in the interest of all stakeholders.

He said that the Federal Government remained committed to the safety of air travellers, stressing that the airport runway would be rehabilitated within six weeks.

In their separate remarks, the chairmen of Airline Operators of Nigeria and international airline operators, Mr Noggie Maggison and Mr Osho Joseph, expressed objections over the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

The British Deputy High Commissioner, Harriet Thompson, also raised concerns about the movement of passengers from Abuja to Kaduna.

The runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was built in 1982 with a life span of 20 years.

Fourteen years after its lifespan expired, the airstrip has been adjudged unsafe for air travellers.

Nasarawa Airport To Serve As Agricultural Produce Export Platform

AviationThe Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, says the ongoing Nasarawa State Airport project will serve as a platform for exporting perishable agricultural products.

He also believes that the airport will serve as a catalyst for the development of the economy.

Speaking during a meeting with the Nasarawa State Governor, Mr Umar Al-Makura, in Abuja, the minister announced that the Federal Government was set to support the project as aviation was a reliable source of generating revenue for the nation.

Governor Almakura said that the state had procured 1,000 hectares of land for the project and that the Lafia Airport when completed would be the best alternative to the Federal Capital Territory for aviation activities.

Buhari Expresses Regret As Bad Weather Disrupts Trip To Bauchi

Buhari Expresses Regret As Bad Weather Disrupts Trip To BauchiPresident Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Bauchi scheduled to take place December 29 has been postponed arising from the prevailing weather conditions in the country.

Uncooperative weather which has been the bane of air travel in the current harmattan season, leading to the delay and cancellation of flights, reared its head in Abuja Airport on Thursday morning, preventing the take-off of the President’s plane for the trip to Bauchi.

According to Presidential Spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, technical information received from the weather station showed that visibility was 600 meters, 200 metres short of the 800 metres minimally required for a safe aircraft take-off.

According to the information available, the visibility was expected to drop to 300 metres before improving to permissible limit later in the day.

The commander of the Presidential Air Fleet, Air Commodore Hassan Abubakar, said that the Presidential Aircraft was in perfect condition, the weather in Bauchi was alright, but that the problem was in Abuja.

In cancelling the visit to the state, President Buhari expressed regret over the disruption caused by the bad weather.

In a recorded audio and video message, he said he looked forward to the visit in the course of which he was to commission an Air Force medical facility and a number of other projects by the state government. He said he also intended to thank the people for their relentless support in all his political undertakings.

“We make our plans, God makes His own plans,” said the President.

President Buhari thanked the Government and people of Bauchi State and the Nigerian Air Force for the studious and elaborate preparations made to receive him, and assured that he is going to visit the state at a more auspicious time.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in his reaction, said the Federal Government is planning to upgrade the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), at the country’s major airports, to ensure that they are working better.

This is with a view to minimizing the sort of flight disruptions that have featured every harmattan season.

FEC Approves Eight Universities, Port Harcourt Airport Renovation

FEC, Federal Executive Council, Universities, AirportThe Federal Executive Council has approved the establishment of eight new universities in Nigeria.

The Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwuka, disclosed this to State House correspondents shortly after the council meeting.

The meeting took place on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Professor Anwuka enumerated the universities to include:

  •  Anchor University, Ayobo, Lagos owned by the Deeper Christian Life Ministry.
  •  Arthur Jarvis University, Akpabuyo, Cross River to run by the Clitter House Nigeria Limited.
  •  Clifford University, Owerrinta, Abia to also be run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
  •  Coal City University, Enugu owned by the African Thinkers Community of Inquiry College of Education, Enugu.
  •  Crown-Hill University, Eiyenkorin, Kwara to be run by the Modern Morgy and Sons Limited.
  •  Dominican University, Ibadan owned by the Order of Preachers, Nigerian Dominican Community.
  •  Kola Daisi University, Ibadan owned by Kola Daisi Foundation.
  • Legacy University, Okija to be run by the Good Idea Education Foundation.

In a related development, the Council also approved the completion of the renovation work at the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers State, south-south Nigeria.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, stressed the importance of the airport to national economy.

He added that the meeting resolved that the airport cannot be allowed to remain in its poor condition.

Challenges In Aviation Sector Will Be Over Soon, Minister Assures Foreign Airlines

planeNigeria’s Ministry of Aviation is asking foreign airlines in the process of downgrading or suspending their operations to reconsider their plans and decisions.

The Ministry is assuring them that the challenges currently besetting the industry and other sectors would soon become things of the past.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made the appeal on Wednesday when he received the West African Regional Manager for Emirates Airlines, Manoj Gopi Nair, in his office.

According to the Minister, the government was not unaware of the issues that have created operational difficulties for both domestic and foreign airlines, such as Foreign Exchange, Aviation fuel and infrastructural deficiencies.

Senator Sirika said that the government had been up and doing to ensure the creation of an environment that is both enabling and profitable for them to operate.

Complaints About Foreign Exchange

He pointed out that the recent concession given to airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to enable the airlines procure the required Foreign Exchange to clear the backlog of matured Foreign Exchange obligations was a direct fall-out of efforts of the Ministry to minimise the identified challenges.

The Minister further promised to immediately take up the Emirates complaints about Foreign Exchange with the relevant authorities.

On the issue of aviation fuel which had earlier threatened to cripple the industry in the recent past, Sirika said that the situation had almost normalised, as a result of government intervention that has made it easier for importers to bring in the product.

On infrastructural deficiencies, especially the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Minister told the airline operators that the government was already handling the issue, emphasising that a long-term solution remained in the concession of the major airports for which government had already commenced the process. That, he said, would address the problems of infrastructure at the airports.

He therefore appealed to the Management of Emirates and other airlines to reconsider their decisions to either suspend their operations or scale them down, considering the adverse effects on their long-standing costumers and the benefits they had reaped in the past.

The Regional Manager, West Africa, of Emirates, Manoj Gopi Nair had earlier told the Minister that he was in his office to brief him on the decision of the Emirates Management to scale down its operations in Nigeria, with the suspension of operations from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

He said the decision was based on the airline’s inability to make ends meet in view of the difficulties in accessing Foreign Exchange for its operations.

He also listed the high cost of aviation fuel and the state of the Abuja Airport runway as other impeding factors.

He however promised to transmit the Aviation Minister’s appeal and official commitment to address the issues to the Emirates Management for a possible reconsideration of the decision.

Senate To Probe Airport Renovations In Nigeria

Senate, AirportsThe Nigerian Senate ‎has announced plans to investigate the renovation work in airports across the country.

The slow pace of work at the terminal building of some airports prompted the decision of the Senate Committee on Aviation.

The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, made the announcement on Wednesday after inspecting the level of work at the airports in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and Kaduna State.

He said that the officials of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the project consultants and contractors have been summoned to appear before the Senate Committee, to explain the reasons for the slow pace of work.

At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja where the oversight visits began, Sen. Uzodinma, who noticed that some buildings were begging for renovation at the premises of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), however, expressed satisfaction with the general level of work.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on his part reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to establish a national carrier.

The Committee also inspected a number of ongoing and completed projects at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Kaduna State.

Sen. Uzodinma told the Rector of the College, Captain Samuel Caulcrick, that the Senate would provide an effective oversight function on the aviation sector, to ensure that all facilities were in place for the smooth running of the sector.

With the discoveries made during the tour of Abuja and Kaduna airports, the Senate Committee on Aviation reaffirmed its commitment to visit other airports in the country, to ensure that Nigerian airports are well maintained for effective service delivery.

Airline Operators Seek Aviation Policy To Address Challenges

planeAirline operators in Nigeria are urging the government to create a clear Aviation Policy that would raise the sector’s contribution to the GDP from 0.4% to 14% and create at least 10,000 direct and 100,000 indirect jobs by 2019.

Led by their Chairman, Captain Nogie Meggison, to a meeting with the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the operators proposed the conversion of Nigeria’s airport terminals into domestic terminals for all of West Africa, to bring business, revenue and create jobs.

The propositions are coming on the heels of appeals seeking the Minister’s intervention in the allocation of more foreign exchange to the operators, resumption of Jet-A-1 aviation fuel production in Nigeria, implementation of importation duty and tax waiver on imported aircraft parts and exemption from value added taxation among others.

The Minster assured the operators that all their challenges would be addressed, with domestic and foreign operators’ interests protected.

He further stressed that the greater advantage would go Nigerian operators, with navigation, communication, runways, terminal building and security listed as the priority areas.

Committee Recommends Launch Of National Aviation Security Programme

Aviation Security-AviationThe Ministerial Committee on Aviation Security has recommended the establishment of a National Civil Aviation Security Board to coordinate all security rules and regulations of the aviation industry in Nigeria.

The Chairman of the Committee, Air Commodore Hambali Tukur, made the observation on Friday.

He said the recommendation was to meet up with the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard.

This was part of recommendations made by the committee in its report on the assessment of security at the Nigerian airports, which was submitted to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Senator Sirika also received a report on the review and amendment of the Civil Aviation Acts 2016 from the Chairman of the Aviation Act Review Committee, Ibrahim Idris.

He vowed that the report would be speedily considered and that the recommendations would be implemented as soon as possible towards a rapid reform of the aviation sector.

The minister expressed concern over the obsolete state of aviation acts which were hastily reviewed for the first time in 2006, after the initial enactment in 1964.

In his response, Mr Idris expressed optimism that their findings and recommendations were exhaustive, saying they would cause visible changes in the aviation industry if well implemented.

The committees were constituted in February for the review and amendment of the Civil Aviation Acts 2016 and the assessment of security at Nigerian airports.

Aviation Minister Orders Probe Of Unauthorised Equipment

AviationThe Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has directed an immediate investigation into the use of an unauthorised equipment by Aero Contractors Airlines at the conclusion of a chartered flight to Bauchi on Saturday.

Reports received by the Minister on Sunday, revealed that the airline used a ladder to disembark passengers from a Boeing 737 aircraft at the Bauchi Airport on Saturday, December 19.

A statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs of the Ministry of Aviation, Mr James Odaudu, said that the act was inconsistent with Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).

The statement added that the investigation would determine the immediate and remote causes of the incident, and will develop and implement measures that would prevent a recurrence of the unsafe and unacceptable procedure that exposed passengers to high risk of injury.

The Minister assured the traveling public that the Ministry of Transport, in collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) would ensure strict adherence to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations as well as ICAO standards and recommended practices by all operators.

Aero Contractors Airline, in a statement explained that a special charter flight operated by Aero to Bauchi had problems with unserviceable equipment by the airport management in dis-embarking about 34 passengers from Abuja.

“Consequently, against the airline’s wish and operation safety guideline, the passengers used a ladder to disembark.

“However, at the time of boarding, the air stairs became functional and the passengers boarded successfully”,  the statement said.

The airline said it took adequate safety measures for the operation, including the airport’s ground staff crew to handle the air stairs equipment in Bauchi, but unfortunately, it became unserviceable at the point of disembarkation.

“Although, the airline crew tried to calm down the passengers to wait while the equipment was being fixed, the passengers insisted on their own volition to disembark against all safety protocol of the airline.

“Aero Contractors wishes to state that it is reviewing its safety measures with all charter operations to all airports to prevent such re-occurrence. Aero will continue to take adequate measures to ensure that its operations remain safe and secure”, the airline said.

Crashed Helicopter that killed police DIG was faulty – Witnesses

A Nigerian Newspaper on Thursday reported that the helicopter that killed a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Haruna John and three other senior police officers in Jos on Wednesday was a faulty one.
The paper quoted witness accounts as saying the chopper took off from the Jos Prison field with indications that something was wrong with it as it headed to Abuja. While flying away, the helicopter drastically lost altitude, and then smoke oozed out of it before it burst into flames and crashed in Kabong, a residential area at Gada Biyu, Jos North.
Resident Iliya John said “We usually see helicopters going round the city almost every day, but this morning we saw this one flying in an abnormal way and we all became alert and we started heading for safety…it was going so low that whoever sees it could tell that something was amiss, in fact people first started coming out and pointing at the way it was flying so low, it was not as the normal ones that we see every day.”
“People were even following the aircraft to see where it was going to land because they noticed that it had mechanical problem.” another witness, Joseph Audu added.
Senator Hadi Sirika, who served as pilot in the Nigeria Police Force, told journalist that “There are several possible causes, if there is no brief you can’t really fathom what happened but he insisted that the crashed chopper was new.
The late DIG was killed along with his orderly, Sergeant Sonatian Shirunam; the pilot, assistant commissioner Garba Yalwa; and the co-pilot, chief superintendent Alexander Pwol-Ja. Also, a nine-year-old child on the ground was killed by the impact of the crash, which destroyed five homes in the area and injured several people who were taken to the Air Force Military Hospital, Jos.