The All Progressives Congress (APC) Legacy Awareness and Campaign, a voluntary think-tank group of the ruling party, yesterday stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has revolutionised the country's aviation industry, 'especially in terms of investments in infrastructure and capacity-building'.
The group disclosed this in a statement issued and jointly signed by former party Scribe, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu; APC National Youth Leader, Ismail Ahmed; Presidential aide, Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi, and the Director-General of Progressives Governors' Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman.
The group recalled that the Buhari-led administration in May 2016 launched its Aviation Roadmap with the aim of transforming the sector in terms of safety, infrastructure and economic viability.
The statement said major highlights of the roadmap included the establishment of a national carrier, development of agro-allied/cargo terminals, concessioning of the major international airports, establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) centre, establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company, Development of Aerotropolis (airport cities), establishment of an Aerospace University, designation of four international airports as Special Economic Zones, upgrade of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).
The group stressed that since the launching of the aviation roadmap, the Ministry of Aviation has focused on implementation.
It said: "In terms of infrastructure, the new terminals at the Port Harcourt, Abuja and Kano International Airports, inherited from the previous administration, have been completed, while the new Lagos terminal is close to completion. Brand new runways were constructed at the Abuja and Enugu International Airports in 2017 and 2020 respectively.
"More than a dozen airports in the country have had Low Level Windshear Alert Systems (LLWAS) installed to improve flight safety. Investigations revealed that the Sosoliso and ADC plane crashes of 2005 and 2006 respectively, were caused by the absence of LLWAS in the airports."
The APC group noted that the Lagos and Abuja airports have had the Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS) installed, 'which provides the capability for landing safely and accurately in conditions of near-zero visibility', adding that another three Nigerian airports have been scheduled to benefit from the upgrade this year.
The group said the concession process for the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt International Airports-the four main international airports in the country-is ongoing with completion of the process scheduled for 2022.
It pointed out that a significant portion of the investment into the aviation sector has been focused on resolving issues and bridging gaps inherited from previous administrations.
According to the statement, one example is the payment of pensions owed to staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways and the reconstruction of the runways in Abuja and Enugu airports, "which were also long overdue, but neglected by previous governments."
The group disclosed that in order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, the federal government in 2020 released the sum of N5 billion in bailout funds, which was shared among airlines, ground handling companies, travel agencies, flight catering services operators, and other stakeholders.