Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Aviation to defend his Ministry’s 2021 budget proposal on Tuesday.
Sirika said that the civil aviation had witnessed growth, saying that the number of airports in the country had increased.
“So, we have about 10 new airports coming up; that is almost half the number of airports we used to have in Nigeria. We are adding 50 per cent of the number of airports,” Sirika said.
“There are airports coming up in Ekiti, Benue, Ebonyi, Lafia, Damaturu, Anambra and so forth. All of these show that civil aviation is growing during this administration,” he said.
He also noted that Kebbi, Osubi, Dutse, Jigawa airports were taken over by the Federal Government while the Gombe State Government had also written the federal authorities, asking it to take over the Gombe Airport.
Sirika said, “Consequent upon that roadmap, we have seen aviation grow in 2018 to become the second-fastest-growing sector of the economy.
“Also and by 2019, it became the fastest-growing sector of the economy and increased its GDP contribution.
“From 2015 till now, we’ve seen a lot of growth in civil aviation, the number of airports is increasing.
“So far, about seven airports have been added to the map, some of them completed, some of them under construction.
Meanwhile, Sirika told newsmen after the budget defence that the national carrier, Nigeria Air, was part of the Aviation sector roadmap, which would be delivered before 2023.
“We are on it. The transaction adviser has brought in the outline business case. It is being reviewed by Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
“Soon after it completion, it will go to the Federal Executive Council fir approved. We will not leave this government without having it in place,” Sirika said.
On the need to site another airport in Lokoja, Kogi, as alternate to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, Sirika said, “Lokoja is an important Northern town.
“Lokoja is a cosmopolitan town, it’s a mini Nigeria and it is extremely very important in growth and development of our country.
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“We have a lot of agricultural activities around there. There is fishery, there is perishable item production and so on.
“So sitting an airport there is quite apt. For me, it is something we should have done long ago for its importance,” Sirika said.
On the issues of dilapidated equipment at some airports across the country, Sirika said it was a work in progress as the airports were being attended to one after the other based on priority.
“We don’t have the resources to take them all at once. We are attending to them according to their needs in terms of safety and security.
“Certainly we are making Ilorin one of the best airports because in the first place it is an alternate for Lagos,” Sirika said.