Nigeria’s airspace is safe – Aviation minister

The Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika says Nigeria is well prepared to tackle any threats to the country’s airspace.

Mr James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, said in Abuja that Sirika stated this at the 39th ICAO General Assembly in Montreal, Canada.

 “It gladdens my heart to say that as of today, there is no state in our sub-region that is on the list of states with significant safety concern.

Nigeria will continue to champion the advancement of civil aviation in our sub-region through the continuous hosting and sponsorship of ICAO’s comprehensive regional implementation plan of aviation safety in Africa.

Within the last two years we have made major strides to promote safety in our airspace and this was confirmed with the success recorded by Nigeria in the ICAO audit.

We have also successfully retained FAA category One rating.

Presently, we are reviewing the primary aviation legislation, Civil Aviation Act 2006 to ensure that Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority continues to exercise requisite power and full autonomy to regulate aviation safety without political interference,’’ he said.

Sirika also said Nigeria had continued to record significant improvement in the area of aviation security by installing modern security equipment at its airports.

He said  the country recently carried out vulnerability analysis of its airports and put in place measures to check terrorism activities.

He said Nigeria’s excellent outing at the last ICAO security audit which took place in June, 2015, attested to its efforts in the area of safety.

“We, however,  believe that  ICAO and member states must continue to put in place proactive measures to curb ever-increasing threat to security of civil aviation.

It is also noteworthy to mention that Nigeria continues to participate in the ICAO’s PKD and support ICAO’s effort to provide assistance to other West African states in their resolve to introduce e-passport.

We are also in consultation with the UN to establish aviation security training schools in Nigeria and these schools  will serve, not only Nigeria but the entire sub-region,’’ he said.

Nigeria is also to continue to support the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) programme, the “No Country Left Behind” initiative.

He said that Nigeria had prior to the initiative been collaborating with ICAO and African Civil Aviation Commission to promote safety in the West Africa sub-region.

According to him, Nigeria is doing that through hosting and subvention funding of Banjul Accord Group Aviation Safety Oversight Organisation, the Aviation safety organisation with  headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

Sirika called on members of the organisation to support the initiative with a view to assisting ICAO to implement its standard and recommended practice

The minister noted that ICAO General Assembly was meant to reflect on the developments that had occurred in the aviation industry and  new strategies of improving them.

He said that those new strategies should make air transportation safer, secure, efficient and  environmentally friendly to ensure the growth and sustainability of the aviation industry globally.

The ICAO Assembly meets, at least, once every three years.

The 191 member states of ICAO and international organisations attend the assembly to formulate policies  for the next three years.