The Senate said Monday that it has concluded arrangements to invite Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Serika over the departure of some foreign airlines from the country.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Adamu Aliero, disclosed this after a maiden meeting between the committee and agencies under Ministry of Aviation in Abuja.
Aliero said that the focus of the parley would be to seek ways and means of find lasting solutions to the problems confronting the aviation sector.
The Committee chairman noted that the acute shortage of aviation fuel in the country that led to some foreign airlines shutting down operations is a problem that could be resolved by the Federal Government.
Aliero said that it was embarrassing to find local and foreign airlines sourcing aviation fuel from neighbouring countries even when Nigeria is an oil producing country.
On funding challenges, Aliero said that the National Assembly will work to amend laws to make it convenient to repatriate funds owed by airlines to the coffers of the Federal Government.
The Kebbi Central lawmaker noted that for the aviation industry to thrive there was the need to unbundle the sector.
Unbundling the sector, he said would shore up its revenue profile.
Aliero said: “From what the committee was made to understand, the most major problem faced by foreign airlines is aviation fuel which is a major problem in Nigeria. In spite of Nigeria being an oil producing country, it is embarrassing that airlines get their products from neighbouring countries.
“As regards repatriation of funds, it is more of a constitutional problem. We will look at ways of fine tuning the constitution so as to make it possible for airlines to remit funds owed government.
“There is also the need to unbundle the aviation sector. We are of the opinion that if this is done, the operations of the sector will be liberalized. That will go a long way to boosting revenue generation.
“So, these are the issues, and since these problems exist, we will invite the Aviation Minister so we can find lasting solutions to them.”
A member of the committee, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, also called for the unbundling of the aviation sector.
Na’Allah noted that the challenges facing the aviation sector makes it imperative for relevant agencies to re-evaluate their policies going forward.
He said, “We are all aware where we are. With the economy, and we are aware how much the aviation sector can generate for the country.
“We must think of unbundling the aviation sector. We have unreasonably overburdened ourselves. If what we have tried in the past has not worked, is it not time to re-evaluate our policies for the aviation sector? We must change our way of doing things. We have to do that at this point because we have no option, so we can move the industry forward.”
Na’ Allah, who also called for the liberalization of flying under the Nigerian Law, said that the development continually hinders Nigerian pilots from competing for international jobs with their foreign counterparts.
The Kebbi South lawmaker noted that pilots and aeronautical engineers trained in the country are unfit for employment as a result of the unavailability of aircrafts to practicalise already acquired knowledge.
Mr. Femi Ogunode who represented the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, lamented the reduction in passenger traffic.
Ogunode said that “airlines in the country are leaving Nigeria”.
On his part, Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Engr Emma Anasi, said that airlines operating in the country were unable to repatriate the stipulated five percent revenue to the Federal Government due to the unavailability of foreign exchange needed to do so.
Anasi noted that though the airlines had insisted on making payments in naira equivalent, constitutional provisions forbids the Agency from accepting their request.
He asked the National Assembly to intervene by amending the relevant laws in this regard. The Nation