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7 years after, FG yet to implement Aviation Development Roadmap

Almost seven years into the life of the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari, there is increasing pressure on the government to deliver on the Aviation…

Almost seven years into the life of the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari, there is increasing pressure on the government to deliver on the Aviation Development Roadmap unveiled since 2015.

With about one year and one month to the end of the administration, stakeholders are anxious about the implementation of the roadmap which they said looks good on paper but its implementation will catalyse into bequeathing a better aviation industry in Nigeria.

On the roadmap unveiled in 2015 are the national carrier, airport concession, aviation leasing company, aircraft maintenance organisation, aerotropolis and an improved workforce.

But seven years down the line and as the 2023 politicking takes shape, there is increasing concern and pessimism over the delay in the implementation of the roadmap.

For stakeholders, the roadmap is excellent and all-encompassing. To the analysts, the roadmap if well implemented would go a long way in changing the game in aviation and making the industry more viable.

While the move to float the national carrier code-named Nigeria Air has missed several targets, the government has promised to unveil it this year amidst doubts from stakeholders. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has almost concluded the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for the new airline which the minister promised would be private sector-driven.

Also, advertisement has been placed for the concession of the airports while stakeholders are awaiting the unveiling of the concessionaires for the airports. This was expected in March this year but it was not clear while the expected announcement was shelved.

For the Aviation Leasing Company (ALC) and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), the Consortium of A J Walters Leasing Limited and Glovesly Pro-Project Limited emerged as the preferred bidders for the ALC while the Consortium of A J Walters Aviation Limited, EgyptAir Maintenance & Engineering (EGME) and Glovesly Pro-Project Limited emerged as the preferred bidder to establish the MRO Centre in January last year but more than one year after, the two projects are yet to be realised.

Daily Trust learnt that the ALC is planned to be structured as a Joint Venture (JV) between the federal government and the private investor.

The business model would be, in the short term, to lease aircraft from international lessors and subsequently sub-lease to African airlines while long-term plan is to acquire, own and lease aircraft directly to African airlines.

The Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility which will be sited at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, will also run through Public Private Partnership (PPP) under the Build, Operate and Transfer model and will have the capacity to service both Narrow Body (Jet and Turboprop) and Wide Body aircraft.

With about one year, one month into the life of the administration, stakeholders believe the time is running out on the projects and expressed worry it could be an abandoned roadmap as a new administration might not be committed to its pursuit unless there is a strong legislative framework to back the roadmap in case any of the items cannot be delivered in the life of the Buhari’s administration.

Aviation analyst and former General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye, in a chat with our correspondent however appealed for patience as the administration appears committed to the roadmap going by its recent actions.

He said, “The government set a timetable. That timetable has not elapsed and they have time up till 2023 May or thereabout. So let us give them time. They have an agenda, they are working towards the agenda and they have made the promise that whatever it is they promised would be fulfilled.

“I have had the privilege of working with the General Manager in charge of the Aviation Roadmap and they have assured me that whatever they plan to do would be done. The Nigeria Air is on course, latest by October 1, they will unveil it. We now have an Interim Managing Director. They are going to set up an Interim Board and so on and so forth.”

He said while the implementation would not be to the full satisfaction of every stakeholder, “there is an element of planning and implementation.”

Abioye added, “So let us be open-minded. A lot of us are worried about this event. The journey of eight years is now less than two years and not yet put in place. It is worrisome but because we are not in government, we are not the implementers, and we are not the deciders of this thing, let us be open-minded and allow the government to do what it wishes to do.

“If it happens, they cannot fulfill the six-point agenda within the roadmap, another government will come. This is not going to be the last administration in Nigeria; another administration will come and if the six-point agenda meets with the new minister that has been appointed, he will continue. If he doesn’t like any of the six-point agenda, he will raise his own because one of our problems has always been that there is no continuity in some of the things people are doing. A new minister will come, discountenance what the others have done and even demolish structures. But until we begin to learn how to start from where the others stop, we would not be a great nation. That has been my concern. But let us be open-minded and give them the benefit of the doubt.”

The analyst noted that the minister has a great vision for the industry but lamented that, “He has a class of people that he can listen to and some of us, he doesn’t want to listen to us and we have a lot of good things to offer him if he cares to listen.

“I belong to the school of thought that has humongous ideas on how this industry can run successfully. But they see us as trouble makers, as people that want to derail their plan or that are not interested, no. We are interested. I have been in this industry for over 40 years now. I cannot be looking for the downfall of the aviation industry that made me who I am.”

Aviation consultant, Babatunde Adeniji, said, “I am not optimistic about the chances of success and doubtful of the quality of results going by antecedents.

“All you need to do is to list various plans and set dates for delivery, number of changes and level of performance according to the ministry’s set dates and timelines to understand the basis of doubt.”

The CEO of 7-Star Global Hangar, Engr Isaac Balami, called for patience from stakeholders, saying all the programmes under the roadmap would be actualised. 

He said aviation, being a highly regulated industry, the government is concerned about doing the right thing and not jumping the gun.

When contacted yesterday, Special Adviser on Public Affairs to the Minister, Dr Joseph Odaudu, promised that the roadmap would become a reality in the life of the administration.

“The national carrier is not dead. The process is on. You are aware that we issued a request for expression of interest recently. The deadline is not over. I can assure you there has been plenty of expression. The project is ongoing. You are always aware that the concession of airports is ongoing. It may have been delayed but the process is on. Establishment of MRO is almost at the final stage. Also, the establishment of leasing companies is also ongoing, not abandoned,” he said.