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The Acting Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Joyce Nkemakolam, has said airlines and private aircraft owners have invested about $4.5 billion (about N779, 100,000, 000) in the acquisition of aircraft in the last six years.
Nkemakolam made this disclosure yesterday in her keynote address at the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies’ 2013 Training Workshop on Aviation and Space Law at the University of Lagos.
He said within this period, Nigerian airlines have introduced modern aircraft and equipment as the old DC 9 series, Boeing 737-200 series, Boeing 727 and BAC 1-11 that hitherto populated Nigeria’s airspace had given way to the New Generation (NG) aircraft, the Boeing 737-700 NG, New Bombardier CRJ 900series, Dash-8, Q400 and others.
Speaking on the topic, “Safety and the Nigerian Aviation Industry,” Nkemakolam, who was represented by NCAA company secretary and legal adviser, Pollie Okonkwo, said notwithstanding the spate of accidents that Nigeria has had in the past, especially the June 3, 2013 crash of flight J9 992 owned by Dana Airlines, tremendous progress has been in the sector in terms of safety.
“The safety reform agenda of the federal government which was anchored on the recertification of the industry, infrastructural rehabilitation, fleet renewal and manpower development have successfully changed the course of aviation in Nigeria.”
He remarked that it was the same reform process which is aimed at improving safety that gave rise to the on-going recertification exercise for airlines and which has reduced Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders from about 50 to 17.
“It is also important to mention that between 2003 to date, some of the airlines on their own folded up their operation largely due to economic recession that had affected the industry globally and inability to comply with the heightened regulatory standards introduced by the Authority.”
The Acting Director General said in addition to the aircraft already acquired, Nigerian operators have ordered for more NG aircraft, “For instance, Arik has ordered for Dreamliner, Boeing 787, 747-400 series and the Airbus A380.”
Nkemakolam noted that this milestone was achieved due to the domestication and implementation of the Cape Town Convention by Nigeria.
“The Federal Government has encouraged the industry by the removal of Customs duty on aircraft and equipment. The revolving grant which airlines can access is also a step in the right direction.”
He said in spite of the progress being made in the sector, there are still a lot of challenges, including inadequate funding, adding that the industry is capital intensive so huge amount of money is required for infrastructural development.
Comparing the budgets made in the last four years, the Acting Director General compared the funds expended in the sector to that of other developing countries like Trinidad and Tobago, which spent $5 billion on infrastructural development in the last four years; Pakistan which spent $ 10 billion on aviation infrastructural development in the same period.
There are also Turkey that spent $40 billion on the same infrastructural development from 2009 till date and other countries like China, India, Singapore, South Africa, Senegal and Ethiopia that have spent hugely in their aviation sector during this period.
Meanwhile, all the police command in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja will soon get helicopters to upscale air surveillance operations aimed at curbing dangerous crimes like armed robbery and facilitate prompt response in case of emergency.
President Goodluck Jonathan made the disclosure yesterday while speaking at the 2013 Police week and inauguration of some police equipment at the Eagles Square, Abuja.
The equipment inaugurated yesterday include seven helicopters, 13 Amoured Personnel Carriers, 275 patrol vehicles and 20 Toyota Hilux armored pickup vans and other gadgets.
The president urged the Police to ensure proper maintenance of the equipment at their disposal and embark on constant training of its rank and file to put them in good shape to combat current security challenges.
Calling on the policemen to respect the citizens’ rights in the discharge of their duties, he said: “I expect that these facilities will enhance police capability in prevention of crimes, and improving response time in emergency situation. It shall be instruments of justice and protection of all men of goodwill given as it will be deployed and utilised strategically to achieve and accelerate utmost result.
“For us to continue to use these equipment, one thing I urge the police to do is the issue of maintenance. As a nation, we are not too good in maintaining what we have. Presently, that aspect is improving because my reaction to the armed force, the navy, and the air force, we have gotten a very formidable team that are now maintaining their equipment.
“The police should do the same so that these equipment will last the time they expected to last. Also, we must emphasis the need to train. For you to remain galant, for you to remain functional in whatever you do, and especially in security tactics, training is vital.
“You must train on the job, you must train with the equipment so that our men and women in police force will have confidence in themselves so that they will continue to operate as gallant men and women.
“The police must be well equipped and kitted to protect us while on land, while in water and also in the air. Of course you see the helicopter we commission and I believe my commitment is that every state command must have a helicopter.
“You have seen the commitment of government, that’s why we set up the special fund. A situation where armed robbers could take over a place and operating for hours and no challenge must be a thing of the past. And that is why we want to invest in air power for the Nigerian police.”
He said, “This is quite trying moment for this country in terms security. For various reasons a number of our police officers have lost their lives while serving their father land. In this unique moment, I crave your indulgence for all of us to stand up for one minute of silence for these police officers that have lost their lives.
“We have challenges from the south to the north, from the east to the west, but the police stay awake as security personnel. Accept our condolences and let me assure you that government will continue to remember you loved ones who had worked and served us. I want us also to continue to remember you members of their family.
“The Police have the constitutional role of enforcing the law, keeping the peace and protecting lives and property which as exceedingly vital for societal fitness , well being and development.
“For police to be effective, of course, government must also provide the police with what it require to work with. The tools must be provided. That is one of the reasons we are here today and also to commission some of the items and we will continue to do more.”
Also while speaking, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar noted that the Police week which was last celebrated in 1976 is providing opportunity for the Nigerian Police Force to reappraise itself.
“Above all, the long term objective of the police week celebrations is to bridge the increasing widening gap between the public and the police and give positive connotation to popular saying that “Police is your friend .”
Abubakar assured the public of the police commitment to the protection of lives and property of the citizens as well as remaining accountable to them.
In his brief remarks, the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade expressed appreciation to President Jonathan and urged the public to support the police to do their job by providing useful information to them