PIQUED at the slow pace of development in the nation’s aviation industry, Aviation Minister, Mr Osita Chidoka, has described the sector as a sleeping giant. Lamenting the woes of the sector, Chidoka decried that the aviation industry currently contributes as little as 0.4% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product due to low level of technology, low productivity and very poor return on investment. He also lamented the absence of any kind of direct air link between Nigeria and the growing market of Asia and which denies the nation of revenues accruable to both local airlines and the nation.
The aviation minister, who said this while delivering a lecture to the participants of Course 36 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Jos, described the Nigerian aviation industry as a sleeping giant with total domestic and international movement put at over 15 million. He stated that the thrust of the ongoing transformation efforts in the aviation industry, if properly positioned, was to contribute more to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through the establishment of a baseline for effective service delivery in line with international best practices. Chidoka, however, opined that no nation could compete favourably with the rest of the world without subsidising the critical sectors of the economy like the aviation industry. Such subsidies, he said, should be founded on a sincere and committed public service.
According to the minister, Nigeria has the potentials to supersede the achievements of places like Dubai, Singapore, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa in reaping benefits derivable from the sector, given its natural and human resources. He revealed that the new baseline being developed would help to monitor, measure and improve productivity. He also disclosed plans by the federal government to establish Nigeria as an aviation hub for the West African sub-region, saying it could only be achieved by making it attractive through the adoption of international best practices in the management of the airports.