By Sumaila Ogbaje
Nigeria has formulated a policy to regulate the engagement of expatriates in the nation’s aviation sector, the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, has said.
Sirika disclosed this in a statement issued by Mr James Odaudu, the Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) on Monday in Abuja.
He assured leaders of the Joint Aviation Trade Unions and Professional Associations Forum, who visited him that the policy would help to engage the Nigerian teeming unemployed professionals in the industry.
The minister said with the policy in place, expatriates would only be engaged in the areas where there were no licenced Nigerian professionals to handle.
According to him, the Nigerian Government is eager to do what is right and proper to develop the sector.
“There is no reason why we cannot fix aviation now that we have seasoned aviator as head of the industry in Nigeria.
“We also have three other Nigerians as President and Second Vice President of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), as well as the General Secretary of African Civil Aviation Commission,’’ he said.
The minister also assured that the establishment of a National Carrier was on course, adding that as soon as necessary approvals were given, the deal would be sealed.
He also disclosed that the government had approved Automated Fire and Smoke Simulator for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), as part of upgrade of the college.
According to him, the ongoing upgrade of NCAT is to maintain its status as a regional centre of excellence for training of aviation professionals.
Sirika said that the construction of a second runway for Abuja airport was appropriated for in the 2017 budget, adding that consultations were ongoing toward the commencement of the project.
He added that the 2018 budget would also make provision for the runway project even as the government was thinking of its completion in 2019.
On the concession of airports, Sirika assured the union leaders that all labour matters would be addressed before concession in a humane manner.
He, however, pledged to regularly meet with the unions to discuss issues that would help the development of the industry.
Earlier, the Chairman of the forum, Mr Safiyanu Mohammed, said their visit was to foster partnership with the government to see how best to fix and move aviation sector forward.
Mohammed said he was glad that the minister, his advisers and heads of the aviation agencies were all aviators.
According to him, the union wants to know government’s plans concerning the improvement of airports.
“We are also here to present to the minister the union’s observations concerning concession agreements and their workability in the industry, and how these agreements will affect members of aviation unions.
“The unions are in total support of the establishment of a National Carrier by the government,’’ he said.
Mohammed expressed appreciation to the minister for his disposition toward the unions and pledged their support for the government. (NAN)