Remarks By Aviation Minister At The Commissioning Of The MMIA New Terminal
REMARKS BY SENATOR HADI ABUBAKAR SIRIKA, HONOURABLE MINISTER OF AVIATION AT THE OFFICIAL COMMISSIONING OF THE NEW TERMINAL BUILDING AT THE MURTALA MUHAMMED INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, LAGOS ON TUESDAY, 22ND MARCH, 2022.
I am privileged to make these remarks on this auspicious occasion of the commissioning of the new terminal building at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. It is more delightful and satisfying that our most revered Leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, is personally performing the commissioning here today.
It was in this amazing city where I lived 27 years of my life struggling it out that we coined GMB means business. This occasion is a testimony the PMB indeed means business.
This terminal you are about to commission has the capacity to process 14 million passengers per annum. There are 66Nos. check-in counters, 5Nos. baggage collection carousels, 16Nos. Immigration Desks at Arrival, 28Nos. Desks at Departure, 8Nos. Security Screening Points, 6Nos. passenger boarding bridges with remote boarding and arrival. Other facilities include 2Nos. food courts, 4Nos. premium lounges, 22Nos. guest rooms and Spars, 16Nos. airline ticketing offices, visa on arrival and port health facility, praying areas, more than 3,000sqm duty free spaces and over 5,000sqm let-table utility spaces.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to start by stating that Aviation provides the only rapid worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential and most important infrastructure for global logistical ecosystem. It boosts economic growth, creates job, and facilitates international trade, commerce and tourism ultimately raising the standards of living of the teeming population. Aviation remains the only medium to achieving continental integration and interaction, the dream of African Union (AU) agenda 2063.
Permit me to state that, a recent Aviation sector study for Nigeria by International Air Transportation Association (IATA) in June 2020, showcases the significant contribution of air transportation to the National economy, through providing 241,000 jobs (direct and indirect) and a contribution of $1.7 billion to the National economy. However, our overall goal is to grow the Aviation sectors contribution from the current 0.6% to 5% (approximately $14.166 billion). In the same vein, IATA projects the Air transport market in Nigeria is forecast, under the “current trends” scenario, to grow by 174% in the next 20 years. This would result in an additional 9.4 billion passenger journeys by 2037. If met, this increased demand would support approximately US $4.7 billion of GDP and almost 555,700 jobs.
Mr. President, Sir, when this Government came into power in 2015, the aviation industry was faced with major challenges, some of which were unemployment of professionals, scarcity of Foreign Exchange, budgetary constraint, sustainability of waiver on Aircraft and spares, decaying/ageing infrastructure and obsolete equipment, poor and intolerable conditions of airport facilities and equipment, as well as blocked airline funds, to mention a few.
Consequently, the Aviation roadmap was developed and graciously approved by Mr. President on the 18th October 2016, which includes: National Carrier, Airport Concession, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center (MRO), Aviation Leasing Company, Agro-Allied Cargo terminals, as well as Aerospace University, etc. The roadmap projects are being undertaken through Public Private Partnership (PPP) and the Ministry has been working very closely with Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to ensure we have a credible and transparent process.
In particular, the Airport Concession project (including the newly commissioned terminals) has reached advanced stage. The Ministry will be issuing Request for Proposal (RFP) to the shortlisted firms before the end of March. We expect to announce a partner in 2nd Quarter 2022 and handover by 4th Quarter 2022.
Mr. President, Sir! in 2015, the total passenger figure was a mere 8 million. With the implementation of some aspects of the roadmap, the passenger figure grew to about 18 million in 2019, making aviation the fastest growing sector of the national economy pre COVID-19 pandemic. His Excellency may wish to note that despite devastating impact of the pandemic on the global aviation industry, the domestic industry has grown leaps and bounds becoming the 3rd fastest growing sector of our economy (according to FMFB&NP).
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is pertinent to mention that, the country stands to gain significant benefits in restoring and maintaining connectivity within, to and from the country. Analysis from IATA shows that Aviation Sector provides N341bn GDP contribution, 160,000 local jobs created and N535bn expenditure from visitors will be solely generated from restoring and maintaining this connectivity. Consequently, Sir, these are the numbers at risk if that connectivity is threatened by the continuous travel restrictions due to current pandemic. Mr. President, aviation business suffers from issue of access to foreign exchange by local and foreign airlines and the ability to repatriate blocked funds. Nigeria currently holds $283m of foreign airlines funds blocked in the country. I would like to humbly request the support of the Central Bank, through the directive of Mr. President, to prioritize access to forex for all carriers both local and foreign. and to work out a mechanism to clear the existing backlog urgently and prevent subsequent build up.
Mr. President is aware of the recent chaos in the sector caused by lack of Jet-A. Flights are unduly delayed and/or cancelled unpleasantly. While apologizing to our teaming passengers, I wish to use this medium to humbly request Mr. President to direct NNPC to import Jet-A1 in good quantities and devise means to sustain supply as well as directing CBN to allocate Forex for the major marketers to sustain supply.
Mr. President, I would like to respectfully assure you and the general public that the Ministry is committed to proper maintenance of all the terminal buildings and would integrate them with other infrastructure to ensure that passengers and other users have pleasant experiences each time they make use of them.
I must pause for a while to thank Mr. President on the carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), designed to lower CO2 emissions for International flights, to curb the aviation impact of climate change. It was developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and adopted in October, 2016. Its goal is to have a carbon neutral growth from 2020 in three phases. Mr. President you approved and consequently Nigeria volunteered to join the pilot scheme. As at today, there are 107 Countries participating in the scheme.
At this juncture, I would like to extend our deepest appreciation to Mr. President for ensuring adequate funding for various Aviation sector projects including Enugu, Maiduguri and Abuja Airports among many. I would also like to thank the relevant stakeholders, including, the Leadership and Aviation Committees of the National Assembly for consistent legislative support, while making a particular mention of their recent passage of the amendment bills to the Acts of the agencies under the Ministry.
Mr. President, the other name for aviation since you took over in 2015 is Growth! Growth!! Growth!!! We have successfully debunked the gospel truth that aviation doubles every 15 years. Currently in Nigeria, the number of airports including those currently being developed has doubled, the passenger number has quadrupled, other entrepreneurships including catering and ground handling has blossomed, number of airlines and jobs has quadrupled. Mr. President thank you for growth.
I thank you all for your kind attention.