The Federal Government has said it was constructing 10 new airports across the country to boost civil aviation.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made the disclosure on Tuesday while appearing before the Senate Committee on Aviation for the 2021 budget defence by the Ministry of Aviation and its agencies.
Sirika said both the executive arm of government and the National Assembly have done justice to the Civil Aviation sector since 2015 when the current administration came on board through the development of a roadmap, which is being implemented.
The Minister added that the Aviation sector was the fastest growing sector of the economy, hence the Federal Government’s decision to build seven new airports, including in Anambra, Benue, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Ebonyi and Gombe.
Sirika also noted that Kebbi, Osubi, Dutse airports have been taken over by the Federal Government, while the Gombe State Government had also written the federal authorities, asking it to take over the Gombe Airport.
He added: “Consequent upon that roadmap, we have seen aviation grow in 2018 to become the second fastest growing sector of the economy and by 2019, it became the fastest growing sector of the economy and increased its GDP contribution.
“During your tenure from 2015 till now, we’ve seen a lot of growth in civil aviation, number of airports is increasing.
“So far, about seven airports have been added to the map.
“Some of them completed, some of them under construction.
“There are airports coming up in Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Lafia, Damaturu, Anambra and so forth.
“All of these show that civil aviation is growing during this administration.
“So, we have about 10 new airports coming up.
“That is almost half the number of airports we used to have in Nigeria.
“So we are adding 50 per cent of the number of airports.”
In an interview with journalists after the budget defence parley, the Minister also hinted that the much-talked-about national carrier, Nigeria Air, was part of the Aviation sector roadmap, which will be delivered before 2023.
He said: We are on it.
“The transaction adviser has brought in the outline business case.
“It is being reviewed by ICRC.
“Soon after it finishes, it will go to FEC and it will be approved.
“We will not leave this government without having it in place.”
On the need to site another airport in Lokoja, Kogi State as alternative to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, he said: “Lokoja is an important northern town.
“It is a cosmopolitan town.
“It’s a mini Nigeria and it is extremely very important in growth and development of our country.
“We have a lot of agricultural activities around there.
“There is fishery, there is perishable item production and so on.
“So siting an airport there is quite apt.
“For me, it is is something we should have done long ago for its importance.”
On the issue of dilapidated equipment at some airports across the country, Sirika said it is a work in progress as the airports are being attended to one after the other based on priorities.
He said: “We have been improving these airports one airport after another.
“We don’t have the resources to take them all at once.
“We are attending to them.
“We look at an airport and find which is that safety item and which is that item of security that needs attention first before we now turn to other matters.
“Certainly we are making Ilorin one of the best airports because in the first place it was an alternate for Lagos.”