As I take a second look at the topic assigned, I found it amusing that l am being invited to speak from a government perspective! It looks like an awkward assignment. However, as often happens there is some good in seemingly unusual circumstances.
The Ministry of Aviation is charged with the overall responsibility of managing aviation in the country. It is empowered by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act of 1964 to make policy and regulate air navigation, air transportation, airport development and maintenance, provision of aviation infrastructural service, and other needs of the aviation industry. the Civil Aviation Act 2006 part 1, Section 1 also states that; “The Minister shall be responsible for the formulation of policies and strategies for the promotion and encouragement of civil aviation in Nigeria and the fostering of sound economic policies that assure the provision of efficient and safe services by air carriers and other aviation and allied service providers, as well as greater access to air transport in a sustainable manner and to assist with ensuring that Nigeria’s obligations under the international agreement are implemented and adhered to.”
This event is an opportunity to indicate the direction our policy should take for meaningful aviation investment in Nigeria. In doing this it is we must kick start it with this mantra: Analysing past policy documents, identify the positive impact they have made and highlight their deficiencies. Set a timeline for review of the document Consult and engage Stakeholders across board Will power to implement by the initiator and those for whom it is made It is also pertinent to highlight parts of the existing legal framework that supports the regulation of the aviation sector in Nigeria as a concretization of government policy at a given period of time.
By so doing, such laws especially the Nigeria Civil Aviation Act 2006 would require some tinkering to accommodate policy pronouncements, developments in the industry as well as modification of regulations in accordance with current global best practices. Policy formulation and implementation do not follow the orthodox perspective as a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes.
It is a statement of intent and it is implemented as a procedure or protocol. In other words, it is the general principles by which a government is guided in its management of public affairs, or the legislature in its measures. When applied to a law, ordinance, or rule of law, it denotes the general-purpose or tendency considered as the policy direction. Policy in Nigeria is often the outcome of myopic protection of class interest, ego, and uninformed perception of the role. Thus, the aviation sector experienced several policies incongruencies, hurtful reversals, and unpredictability which have been quite harmful to the development of the sector. Certainty of procedure and activities are the hallmark of aviation. Unpredictability just as applicable to the weather is an undesirable index to the aviator.
Perhaps the latest of Nigerian policy documents was the Nigerian National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2013. Profound critique of this document has been variously made by notable names in the industry. It suffices to say that Nigeria needs a comprehensive general aviation policy that defines the scope of oversight functions of regulatory agencies and sets out guidelines for private sector participation. Efforts should be made to ensure that Ministerial intervention in safety and regulatory activities are reduced to the barest minimum if not outrightly forbidden. Any attempt at formulating or developing an aviation policy as would encourage investment must address the following: Funding of Safety and Security, Inadequate infrastructure certification, Access to Maintenance Services, Rising Costs of Aviation Fuel, Taxation The effects of the foreign exchange crisis, Safety Regulation, Labour Issues, Adherence to Terms Conditions of Agreements, Retention of “Ease of Doing Business”, Implementation of The Economic Regulations Guidelines and Respect of Judicial proclamations
In order to address the various challenges, the Aviation industry needs an effective policy that will harness its potential and attract more foreign investment, as well as address safety and national security concerns as a focal points. Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $415.08 billion according to the International Monetary Fund’s world economic outlook for October 2016. Notwithstanding the contraction in the economy over the past two years, Nigeria remains a major African hub for business and commercial activities. Therefore, the required policy direction at this point in time is such policy as would ensure: Development of new Airports through PPP Deliberate establishment of Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facilities with 0% Customs tariffs including VAT, 5-year tax holiday MRO related transactions, simplified Ports clearance, expeditious grant of land on generous terms, Aggressive review of Bilateral Traffic Rights, Regional Connectivity Scheme-, Tax incentives for all airlines operating on hitherto underserved routes, Upward review of Foreign Equity or participation to accommodate 100% ownership to boost FDI.
Chile and Australia modified their laws to accommodate 100% ownership of airline and allied business, an articulated but consistent air transport policy is very critical to Nigeria’s long–term development. However, the air transport policy is supposed to be formulated to form part of a transport chain. Aviation had hitherto been treated like a stand-alone rather than be part of a seamless all-inclusive transport “Chain”. ALL NATIONS HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ENSURING THE SAFE AND ORDERLY DEVELOPMENT OF AVIATION NIGERIA CANNOT BE DIFFERENT