Tuesday 28 August 2012

Aviation road show abroad’ll reinvent Nigeria

By Olusegun Koiki
Former Commissioner for Information, Plateau State, Hon. Yakubu Datti has risen in support of the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah over her recent business road show to China, Canada and United States of America. The two weeks road show had attracted lots of criticisms from stakeholders and professionals in the sector who described the business show abroad as a jamboree and a share waste of public funds, but Datti in an interview with National Mirror said that rather than criticise the minister for her efforts in uplifting infrastructure in the sector, Oduah should be commended by players in the sector. Datti insisted that the business show abroad to attract foreign investments into the sector would reinvent Nigeria as the hub of Africa’s aviation, adding that it would also situate the country as the commercial entry point of international financing and foreign investments. He explained that what Nigeria needed to continue to play its leading role in Africa and beyond was the involvement of foreign investors, which he said the minister was trying to achieve through her road show. He argued that Oduah met dilapidated infrastructure in all the 22 airports in the country on her appointment as aviation minister barely a year ago, but with determination, she has been able to uplift half of the abandoned structures she inherited. He said, “Circumstances she inherited, on her assumption to office, could not have been less favourable. It is common knowledge that most of the Nigerian airports and terminals were built in the ’70s and for the past 30 years, no meaningful step was taken to shore up the infrastructure to be at par with international basics.
“Our national carrier, the once boisterous Nigerian airways was systematically reduced to cadavers, and the remains cremated. The airports were glorified motor parks, check-in services were slow and inefficient, and the arrival and departure lounges were an eyesore.
Leaking roof, suffocating counters and unkempt and broken conveniences added to passengers’ nightmare.
“The facilities were decayed and in a state of utter dysfunction; a disgrace and embarrassment to our national pride and standing in the comity of nations.
Passengers avoided our local airlines like a plague. Foreign airlines tip-toed our climes to reap from our profitable routes; they flew in their food, water and even insecticides, as if to purify our air.
They charged arbitrary fares and made it practically impossible for indigenous carriers to compete on lucrative routes. They patronised our routes with dilapidated, spentup aircraft. Even their crews were like a scene from the James Bond movies of the sixties.”
He noted further that through the road show, China’s stateowned construction giant, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd (CSCEC) has given its commitment to invest in the development of Nigeria’s aviation sector.
Datti observed that African countries like Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa have all benefited from aviation investments from well established aviation financiers, engineering companies like Bombardier, Boeing and Cessna, emphasising that much more could be achieved with a greater rejuvenation from foreign investments in the sector.


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