NIGERIA’S Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has given reasons why Nigeria as a nation needs a national carrier and has assured that government would steer clear of its affairs allowing it to run smoothly.
Sirika made this known today at the ongoing World Government Summit (WGS) In Dubai, while discussing on the future of global aviation.
According to the Minister who was responding to queries by the moderator of the session and travel expert, Richard Quest on he said the country’s equidistance and sheer number of those with propensity to fly makes it necessary.
Sirika said,”Nigeria is situated at the centre of Africa, equidistant from all locations in Africa. 30.4 million square kilometres miles, 1.5 billion people, very green land. If Central and Eastern Africa is the belt of the continent, than Nigeria is the buckle.
“200 million people and rising middle class, propensity to fly is high. Nigeria is a candidate for National Carrier.”
Interjecting, Quest asked if the airline is going to be private and if the Nigerian government would be able to keep its hands off as that trend has been rife in the past
Sirika responding said,”The airline would be private, yes. 5 per cent government and no government stepping right in that company, no government control, no membership of government on board. Totally private and committed.”
“Whatever we say we will do as a government since 2015, it has happened. that is why Tim Clark’s Emirate, Qatar Airways and all of them are looking to go into Nigeria in multiple frequencies and multiple landing points because Nigeria is the right place for airline business.
On why countries locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic despite warnings from the aviation community on the effects, Sirika said Nigeria’s response to the pandemic was to save lives.
Sirika said: “The countries had to do it. Look at the case of Nigeria. We have 200 million people in Nigeria and most of them living close to each other in cities jam-packed with 20 million people in Lagos and 40 million people in Kano, something has to be done unless, people would die. We closed the country immediately at that time. And that is why in Nigeria, up till today only 3,500 death recorded from Covid-19, and just about 250, 000 infected and 245,000 discharged from the hospital.
On the verifiability on the figures, Sirika said: “Yes I believe. Otherwise people would have been going to the grave unexplained. It worked very well, then, gradually things began to ease out and business began. Don’t forget before Covid-19, Nigerian aviation became the fastest growing sector of the economy.
” The airlines are doubled, passengers numbers quadruple, numbers of airports doubled all during Buhari administration of 6 years.
Also speaking at the Session, Emirates CEO, Sir Tim Clark described Nigeria as a powerhouse with regards traffic stressing that there is enormous business there as it’s people seek to travel
“ Nigerians are seeking to travel all over the world. Nigeria is a power house of Africa. We are over interested in flying there because it is a rich nation in terms of demand for services.
He aldo extended Emirates offer of assistance with regards implementing a master plan for the entity.
“It is a very rich If the minister needs some assistance in how they go about practising a blueprint, we are very happy to help but I would say not to be too disingenuous to ourself, if they they got the wherewithal they clearly understand what they are doing and they are doing it and probably in the next year they will a very good carrier flying and please come to Dubai because there is so much demand.
Director General of Airports Council International, H.E. Luis Felipe de Oliveira, commented in terms of airport capacity said the potential for Nigeria and Africa as a whole is huge.
” We need to find a way that we can to reduce the restriction inside and outside of Africa to bring more passengers to continue to fly.