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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The debt profile of Nigeria’s aviation sector is a nightmare -says dictator Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday raised concern over the enormous debt profile of Nigeria’s aviation sector, promising that his administration would act quickly to redress the situation.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.

Adesina said Buhari spoke after receiving a briefing from officials of the Ministry of Aviation in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President was quoted as saying, ‘‘I am concerned about the enormous debt profile in the aviation sector. The Federal Government has to do something quickly because safety, security and international respectability are involved here.

“Our airports are the windows through which people see our country. Anybody coming into the country will likely come through the airports.

“If we cannot secure and maintain our infrastructure, it will reflect very badly on us.’’

He also directed the ministry to speed up all processes and projects relating to the safety and security of Nigeria’s air transport system and that counterpart funding for the upgrading of the international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu, be captured in the 2016 budget.

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. Binta Bello, told the President that the five new international airport terminal buildings were designed to meet the best international standards.

The terminals, she said, could cater for 62 million passengers annually when completed in the first quarter of 2016, with Lagos moving from seven million passengers’ capacity to 25 million, Abuja moving from five to 16 million, while Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu, will have the capacity for seven million passengers each.

Meanwhile, the Presidency said on Wednesday that the total amount expended on the recent United States trip by Buhari was less than 10 per cent of the N2.2bn being speculated in the media.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement.

Shehu was reacting to an editorial published by a newspaper (not The PUNCH) in which the total cost of Buhari’s trip was estimated at N2.2 bn.
The presidential aide said contrary to the newspaper’s assertions, the total cost of the trip to the Nigerian taxpayer was “at the most minimal” in line with the policy of the present administration to cut waste and extravagance.

He said, “In point of fact, the total amount expended on the trip by the Office of the President amounted to nothing near 10 per cent of the speculated figure.

“Owing to the free accommodation provided by the host government, all the personal staff who accompanied the President on the trip received reduced allowances.

“His son, Yusuf, received neither allowances nor estacode. The five governors on the trip each paid his own way.

“Permanent Secretaries who travelled on the delegation did so in accordance with extant rules and none of them exceeded their estacode entitlements.”

Shehu also said it was wrong to claim that the trip achieved nothing, saying the Nigerian-US relations had suffered severely over the past few years but that the relationship had been restored.

He said the benefits of the symbiotic relationship would become more evident as the Buhari administration continued to tackle the challenges of corruption, security and the economy.

“Some of the more immediate benefits of the President’s trip to the US include the proposed $2.1bn fund from the World Bank for the re-development of the North-East battered by Boko Haram; $5bn from the US investors in Nigeria’s agricultural sector; $1.5bn investment in the Nigerian health sector; and another $5bn investment from the US in our country’s power sector.

“Also, as things stand at the moment, the embargo on the sale of weapons to Nigeria is in the process of being removed.

“The trip to the US by President Buhari was definitely very successful and beneficial to Nigeria.

“Only those rabidly determined to find faults unnecessarily will cook up falsehood in a futile effort to rake up murk where none exists.”

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