Agbakoba wants President-elect to focus on aviation sector for economic diversification
Pushes for Aviation Cabotage, Fly Nigeria Bill
PRESIDENT-ELECT, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) has been advised to intensify the diversification of Nigeria’s economy by focusing on the aviation sector as a major revenue earner with huge potentials. Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba, gave the advice recently at an interactive session with journalists in Lagos.
According to him, the incoming administration should as a matter of urgency and because of the dwindling oil revenue see aviation as a major economic frontier to tap from. To him, with about 170 million persons, regional economic potentials, 22 airports and a growing mass of flying middle class, much attention should be paid to Nigeria’s aviation industry which requires massive revamping in terms of infrastructure, legal, institutional and administrative framework.
The new areas Agbakoba is calling the incoming administration to focus on include: . Strategies for maximizing the advantages of Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and other high end aviation partner countries, legal and regulatory imperatives for the aviation safety to raise international acceptance and usability of Nigeria air space.
Framework for utilization of Open Skies Agreements (OSA) and other international protocols and development of a National Aviation Policy. One of such framework is the introduction of Aviation Cabotage.
As he put it introduction of Aviation Cabotage will constitute a positive step towards stimulating the development of indigenous capacity and facilitate the pursuit for deep local participation in the sector.
He cited Chile, Australia and USA where he said law and regulations were effectively used to support local operators. In addition to this, he is pushing for Fly Nigeria Bill to be passed by the National Assembly.
According to him, the Bill is modeled after the US Regulation with special regard to Nigeria’s technical abilities, capacity and development. On how this Bill will work, the senior advocate, explained that government sponsored passengers constitute a significant percentage of flying population, with billions paid to foreign airlines annually.
He stated that USA tapped into that resource base through the Fly America Regulation (FAR), which required federal employees, dependents, consultants, contractors, grantees and other persons performing Government-financed air travel to use the US flag carriers.
He argued that an efficient aviation sector would therefore provide crucial support and enabling environment for a developing economy, adding that the impact of Singaporean and Malaysian airlines on the growth of their economies was massive.
‘A lesson Nigeria can learn to grow its aviation industry’, he said. In conclusion, he said it is known all over the world that aviation industry supports tourism and international business by providing the only rapid worldwide transportation network.
‘It is therefore expected that the incoming minister of aviation will consider taking up and actualizing the intended legislation’, as well as encapsulate the Aviation Sector Action Plan (ASAP) for innovations towards the development of a comprehensive National Aviation Policy (NAP).
With an annual loss of N20 billion to international carriers and a boost to employment generation in the country, he said, the passage of Fly Nigeria Bill (FNB) will open up so many opportunities for the aviation sector and contribute meaningfully to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The day’s proceedings were conducted by the partner corporate/commercial/public sector group of Olisa Agbakoba Chambers, Olabisi Akodu, supported by her colleagues: Frances Nwokoro and Victor Nwakasi.