The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, wednesday said notwithstanding the setback in the economy caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, he is poised to move the aviation sector forward.
Sirika made this assertion when he led heads of aviation agencies to an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Aviation in Abuja.
The Minister lamented that the civil aviation sector which had become the toast of investors was hardest hit by the over three months lockdown due to the COVID-19.
Sirika said: “Yes, we locked down the airports. It wasn’t by choice, it was by force. Since this force majure befell us, our response was to close down the airports.
“The airports have been closed for a little over three months now and that of course obviously without saying has huge impact on the health of the sector of civil aviation.
“We are the worst hit – all of the businesses and services are shut down for three months and at a time when aviation has began to do very well.
“The approved road map which Mr. President approved which I discussed with this National Assembly even before getting the approval had begun to show good results.
“Aviation has taken the lead to become the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy today.
“We have moved passenger number from eight to 18 million in five years. We’ve done quite a number of things.
“The sector was very vibrant. We have wet the appetite of people to begin to think that the best place to invest is in civil aviation, 200 million mobile people.
“That is a sector that was running at its full speed when COVID-19 came in and everything stopped. It is quite painful for us.
“It is quite challenging for us but of course since it is the act of God, we thank him and we ask him for the strength to come out of this and to once again begin the journey unto greater heights.
“It is our intention to continue to move civil aviation forward and to make it not only the fastest growing sector but one of the greatest contributor to Nigeria’s GDP.
“Within the very short time that we have spent in this industry for example we have improved the contribution to GDP to 0.6 per cent of our national GDP.
“The intent for this roadmap, once it is implemented, is to move GDP contribution to 7.5 per cent and of course that is $25billion and that is achievable.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), in his remarks, said the session was geared towards discussing the wellbeing of the aviation sector in the country.