President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration was under tremendous pressure from many patriotic Nigerians desirous of having a new national airline.
The president who made this known when he received the President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Muyiwa Aliu, at the State House, Abuja on Monday also said his administration will speed up the improvement of aviation infrastructure in the country to enhance the country’s economic development.
“I equally support a national airline for both patriotic and economic reasons.
“We have enough trained citizens including pilots and engineers. But Nigerians need to know how we lost (defunct Nigeria Airways) the one we had before,” he said.
President Buhari declared his total support and commitment to work with regulatory agencies in the aviation sector to make air travel safer throughout the country.
The President, who received three awards recently won by Nigeria from ICAO, expressed delight with the high ranking accorded Nigeria in safety and security at the airports, following measures put in place to address gaps in airport security.
The Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who led the ICAO delegation, informed President Buhari that the Nigeria was hosting the meeting of International World Aviation Forum in Abuja.
He said the meeting would start on Tuesday, the first time such conference will hold anywhere outside Montreal, Canada.
He said over 40 aviation ministers and representatives from 70 countries, the World Bank, African Development Bank, manufacturers of planes and aviation equipment would attend this year’s conference focusing on “Financing Development of Aviation Infrastructure.”
The President of ICAO, who is a Nigerian, commended President Buhari for fast-tracking policy initiatives that changed the fortunes of air travel in Nigeria.
He described the reconstruction of the runway at the Abuja airport as a rare feat.
On behalf of the ICAO, Aliu presented a certificate of recognition of the School of Aviation, Zaria as a regional center of excellence as well as the certification of both Abuja and Lagos airports which have attained ICAO standards for the first time in history.
He also presented another certificate marking the attainment of the International Organization for Standardization ISO 9001, 2015 by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.
Aliu, who also spoke to State House correspondents, said he formally informed President Buhari of the programme of the ICAO World Aviation forum being hosted by Nigeria.
He expressed satisfaction over the level of preparedness by Nigeria to host the forum.
“It is a huge event and we are happy for all the efforts that are being made to make that event a success.
“It is also an opportunity for me as president of ICAO Council to bring to the attention of Mr President, the significant recognition that Nigeria is receiving when it comes to aviation development.
“I also thank him for all the efforts he is making not only for Nigeria because the development of civil aviation in Nigeria affects the whole region with Nigeria being the African regional leader,’’ he said.