The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says the Federal Government is building enduring foundation for national and economic growth and it will not be deterred in the process.
The minister stated this on Thursday in Lagos at the Aviation Safety Roundtable with the theme, “Aviation as a Catalyst for Economic Growth’’.
He said the government was passionate and committed to reviving the nation’s infrastructure which had gone bad over the years including those of the aviation sector.
Mohammed, who was reacting to series of challenges identified by stakeholders as facing the development of the sector, noted that solutions lied in collaboration and regular engagements.
He said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration had unprecedentedly increased capital expenditure because of its commitment to improving national infrastructure.
The minister identified institutional resistance as one of the greatest challenges faced by the change agenda of the present government.
He stressed that government would not be deterred in its cardinal agenda of fighting corruption and insecurity, building infrastructure and revamping the economy.
Mohammed noted that Public-Private-Partnership was key to the development of the aviation sector.
He said the modern and effective MM2 Airport Terminal in Lagos built by Bi-courtney Ltd. under the Built, Operate and Transfer Agreement was a good example.
He therefore called on stakeholders in the industry to work closely with government in finding lasting solutions to the challenges in the sector.
Speaking on the relevance of the roundtable to his ministry, Mohammed said that for tourism to grow, it needed the collaboration of sectors like aviation, foreign affairs, health, and agriculture among others.
“There cannot be tourism development without airports, and most airports will also collapse if there are no tourists.
“You can see the symbiotic relationship between aviation and tourism.
“This roundtable offers us the opportunity to exchange ideas and proffer solutions to the myriad of problems facing us,’’ he said.
The minister said that one of the takeaways from this roundtable was the offer by the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) to collaborate with his Ministry in promoting domestic tourism.
Earlier, the President of AON, Capt. Noggie Meggisson disclosed that the association was working with the ministry on slashing air fares to local tourist destinations across the country particularly on weekends.
He said the programme is meant to encourage Nigerians to take delight on visiting local tourism sites which abound in the country rather than travelling outside the country for leisure.
The Chairman of Bicourtney, Wale Babalakin (SAN) said aviation could become catalyst for economic growth if government could be consistent in its policies, honour its agreement and create more enabling environment for private sector to thrive in the industry.
The Chief Executive Officer of Airpeace Airline, Mr Allen Onyema identified bureaucracy, multiple taxation, and unfavourable government policies among others as some of the challenges facing the sector.
He advocated development of modern and legal framework to guide the sector.
Onyema commended the administration of President Buhari for the policy of free duties on imported aircraft, accessories and parts to encourage investors.
He also commended the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business which he said was helping to boost the aviation and other sectors. (NAN)