The Nigerian Senate

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has urged the Federal Government to create a consolidated fund for developmental projects at the nation’s airport.

The committee Chairman, Rep. Nnolim Nnaji, made the plea during the facility tour of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) on Thursday in Lagos.

The committee toured the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Training School, Power House at MMIA and the ongoing construction of new International Terminal at MMIA.

Other places visited by the committee as part of the oversight functions included General Aviation Terminal (GAT), drainage and dredging of canals at MMIA.

Nnaji explained that the idea of a consolidated fund would enable the government to create a developmental plan that would make FAAN come up with long term projects.

He said the committee had realised that FAAN needed funding, just like any other agency in the aviation sector.

Nnaji added that part of the committee’s plea to the Federal Government, as a way of helping FAAN, was to improve on its infrastructure by using the consolidated fund.

He said: “It is not about the yearly budgetary alone, but it is this plan that will enable them to do a project that will last for more than five years.

“If we have a 10-year plan where the government will be involved through the Ministry of Finance and Budget so that whatever project that is coming up will live beyond the FAAN management.

“If we look at what is happening today, the situation of our roads is bad.

“So, this is an opportunity to improve the industry, because lots of people are now looking toward the airport.

“If we have a good airport, then investors will want to double their investment and if you have a bad airport, investors will look down on us.

“The aspect of aviation infrastructure should be very critical, not just to the Aviation Ministry or FAAN, but to Nigerians.

“This is because the development of aviation infrastructure will explore other areas of development.”

Nnaji said the committee would start work on the amendment of FAAN Act submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, adding that by 2020 it would start public hearing on it.

According to him, hopefully, at the committee level, we will facilitate the public hearing and possibly move for the passage of the bill.

In his remarks, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, FAAN Managing Director, said that airport business was global, technical, and highly regulated with huge infrastructure requirement.

Yadudu explained that Nigeria was expected to be a hub in West Africa/Central Africa Sub-Region.

He said this expectation could only be met with more funding to ensure provision of modern and up-to-date infrastructure and technology.

According to him, FAAN management believes that we can only achieve these with legislative support.

Yadudu said in spite of FAAN modest achievements, the authority was still constrained by many factors.

He said: “Capacity and airports contribution to revenue generation of MMIA and Abuja mainly sustains other airports.

“Bureaucracies, bottlenecks and delays in the review of rates and tariffs on services. The last time FAAN reviewed her charges was in 2011 over seven years ago and obviously requires realignment with current realities.

“Government policy of waiving 65 per cent of gross revenue accruing from annual pilgrimage operations.

“This is on an annual basis between three million dollars and four million, which is being waived and this amount is not passed on to the passengers, but to the airlines.

“There is court cases and litigations instituted against the authority in which some of the litigations resulted in judgment debts which the authority had to defray.”

Yadudu said both the national and international economic challenges had affected airline operators, which made them to reduce fleets, frequencies or totally withdrew operations.

He, therefore, thanked the committee members for their support and understanding so far in navigating the affairs of the authority.