Aviation experts on Tuesday, condemned the attitudes successive governments in the country towards the development of aviation infrastructure and human capacity. If Nigeria were to play big in aviation, they said the country needs over $50 billion for it to turn around in all areas.
This declaration was made at the 2017 NTM Colloquium on Vision 2050: How to Fast Track Nigeria’s Aviation, which held at the prestigious Renaissance Hotel on Isaac John, Ikeja Lagos. The experts who spoke at the event organized by Nigeria Travels Mart (NTM) also accused some airline operators of not training local manpower as expected, saying they preferred expatriates to nationals whom should have been trained and then give back to the system.
Mr. Opeyemi Agbaje, Chief Executive Officer of RTC Advisory Services Limited, who delivered a paper on ‘Raising Capital to Finance a Vision 2050 Plan”, said due to infrastructure deficit and other issues crippling the Nigerian aviation industry, it would require over $50 billion to develop by 2050. According to him, ‘we have seen the evidence of government’s incapacity, it is a mystery but Nigeria’s infrastructure challenge generally and in transport and aviation boils down to a simple question of how do we attract global FDI flows into Nigerian aviation?
Hear him, “It requires a stable macroeconomic environment; forward-looking and proactive policy; a clear and compelling vision for the industry shared by all stakeholders including government and the private sector; and regulation that seeks to foster industry transformation (not just collect revenues); Investors and financial institutions, global and domestic, will do the rest. The answer is DFI and regulation that works.”
Mr. Ali Magashi, Chief Executive Officer, Katari Consult Limited in his own submission said the only way to fill the manpower gap in the sector is the establishment of a national carrier, adding that this will also go a long way in addressing infrastructural deficit. Magashi, who spoke on ‘Nigeria aviation vision 2050: The National Carrier Airline as panacea to fast track the growth of Aviation in Nigeria’, posited that real training in the sector ended when Nigeria Airways was liqiuated.
According to him, ‘A national carrier that is floated and run efficiently will reduce our transport infrastructure deficit, help in the development of our economy and provide multiple jobs. A national carrier will help in developing aviation leasing companies, maintenance hangers, flight simulators and related training facilities, thereby creating more job opportunities. A national carrier will stimulate the development of more travel agencies and the hospitality industry, thereby providing more jobs.
“A national carrier will bring about economic empowerment to many people through forward linkages in aircraft leasing and finance, and backward linkages of hospitality and air travel support. The aviation industry supports about 62.7 million jobs around the world, as such, a national carrier airline will help in boosting economic activity and stimulation”, he said. He noted however that for the national carrier to effectively come on stream, there must be political will and sincerity of purpose, noting ‘for this to work, the presidency will have to drive this with all the political might and sincerity of purpose to avoid political interference.”
For the industry to run efficiently, he stated further, “Merit should determine recruitment, not politics and/or federal character, especially at the executive management level. Competence, experience and success story track records should guide the process of executive recruitment – for example a minimum qualification experience of managing an airliner with a minimum of a hundred line airplanes for accountable manager and post holders.”
Dr. Harold Demuren, former Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), on his own part lamented that despite the fact that ‘Nigeria is a natural hub’, government was yet to do the right thing to facilitate the growth of aviation in Nigeria. According to him, infrastructure is key if Nigeria really needs to be the centre of attraction in Africa, adding ‘airports environments must be friendly, we need to do what big airlines are doing well to move forward and that includes regulation without political interference.