At a recent bilateral meeting, the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H. E. Yemi Osinbajo, and the President of the ICAO Council, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, concurred on the need to heighten preparation and investment in order to sustainably manage anticipated traffic growth and fully capitalize on the significant progress the country has already achieved in developing its air transport sector.
The meeting took place concurrently with the ICAO African and Indian Ocean Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (AFI RPAS) Symposium, for which Dr. Aliu delivered the opening address.
Accompanied by the Representatives of Cabo Verde, Nigeria and South Africa on the ICAO Council, Mr. Carlos Monteiro, Capt. Musa Shaibou Nuhu, and Mr. Tshepo Peegee, respectively, Dr. Aliu also conducted bilateral meetings with H. E. Yemi Osinbajo, the Honourable Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja), Mr. Muhammad Musa Bello. These meetings were also attended by ICAO’s Regional Director for Western and Central Africa, Mr. Mam Sait Jallow, Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mr. Barry Kashambo, and Deputy Director, Air Navigation Bureau, Mr. Catalin Radu.
In his meeting with Nigeria’s Acting Head of State, Dr. Aliu thanked the Federal Government of Nigeria for hosting the AFI RPAS Symposium and for accepting to host the third edition of the ICAO World Aviation Forum (IWAF/3), which will take place in Abuja in November 2017. He stressed that these initiatives were a testimony to Nigeria’s cooperation and support for the development of aviation at the national, regional and international levels.
The two leaders concurred on aviation’s role as an enabler and catalyst for economic growth, with President Osinbajo highlighting the prioritization of the sector within the country’s national developmental strategy. Focussing on human resources capacity building and aviation infrastructure development, Dr. Aliu stressed the need for preparation in order to ensure the sustainable management of air traffic growth and fully benefit from the opportunities it offers. He also underscored the important gains made by ICAO, in collaboration with the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), under the recently established Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) for Africa, in addition to the opportunities provided by IWAF/3.
H. E. Osinbajo affirmed the importance of ICAO’s contributions to Nigeria and the country’s ambitions to develop as a regional air transport hub. In this regard, he highlighted ongoing efforts to encourage private sector participation to facilitate the mobilization of the required capital investment, including through the concession of airport operations and services. Noting the key contributions of unmanned aircraft systems, he also expressed Nigeria’s commitment to fully implement the outcomes of the RPAS Symposium.
Recognizing progress on a number of strategic projects, such as the upgrading of the Nigerian College of Aviation Training (NCAT) into an ICAO Regional Training Centre of Excellence (RTCE), the establishment of an Aerospace University, and the certification of Nigeria’s aerodromes and Aviation Security Training Centre (ASTC), Dr. Aliu reiterated that the sustainable development of aviation in Nigeria calls for the strengthening of the autonomy of its Civil Aviation Authority and reinvestment of aviation revenues into the sector, and stressed ICAO’s commitment to supporting Nigeria as it addresses these issues, through its No Country Left Behind initiative and the ICAO Western and Central Africa Regional Office.
The Council President also met with heads of Nigeria’s aviation parastatals – the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and Nigerian Meteorological Agency as well as the Nigerian College of Aviation Training – and visited the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport of Abuja, where significant progress on infrastructure is being achieved. These meetings provided opportunities to exchange views on challenges and opportunities in the aviation sector, and the need to improve effective implementation of aviation safety and security oversight, capacity and quality of services.
The bilateral initiatives were complemented by Dr. Aliu’s meeting with the Vice President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Honourable Edward Singhateh, and the Executive Director and Staff of the Banjul Accord Regional Aviation Safety Oversight Organization (BAGASOO). These discussions focused on the need for greater collaboration and mutual cooperation between ICAO and the respective organizations for the advancement of aviation safety, security, capacity building, infrastructure development and air transport liberalization.
Dr. Aliu’s mission to Nigeria took place from 15 to 21 July 2017.