By Solomon Asowata
The Federal Government of Nigeria has pledged to support the safety and security initiatives of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Capt. Hadi Sirika, Minister of State, Aviation, made the pledge while speaking at the ongoing 39th ICAO General Assembly in Montreal, Canada.
The ICAO Assembly is the organisation’s sovereign body which meets at least once every three years, and is convened by ICAO’s governing body, the Council.
ICAO’s 191 Member States and a large number of international organisations are invited to the Assembly, which establishes the worldwide policy of the organisation for the upcoming triennium
A copy of Sirika’s speech at the Assembly was obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday.
“We are here to reflect on the developments that have taken place in aviation industry and to seek new ways of improving them beyond the next triennium.
“These new strategies should make air transportation more safe, secure, efficient, and above all, environmentally friendly so as to ensure the growth and sustainability of the aviation industry globally.
“In light of the above, Nigeria fully support the ICAO’s ‘No Country Left Behind’ initiative,” he said.
Sirika called on member states and donor agencies to support the initiative with a view to assisting the implementation of ICAO’s Standard and Recommended Practices.
According to him, prior to this initiative, Nigeria has been collaborating with ICAO and African Civil Aviation Commission, AFCAC to promote safety in the West Africa sub-region.
He said this was through the continuous hosting and sponsorship of ICAO’s safety, security, air transport and environmental programmes, including comprehensive regional implementation plan of aviation safety in Africa.
Sirika said: “Within the last two years, we have made major strides to promote safety in our airspace. This was confirmed with the success recorded by Nigeria in the ICAO audit. We have also successfully retained FAA Category One rating.
“Presently, we are reviewing the primary aviation legislation, Civil Aviation Act 2006, to ensure that Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority continues to exercise requisite power and full autonomy to regulate aviation safety without political interference.”
He said Nigeria had equally recorded significant improvement in the area of aviation security with the installation of modern security equipment at airports and continuous implementation of its national aviation security programme.
The minister said:”Only recently we carried out vulnerability analysis of our airports and put in place measures to curb any act of terrorism.
“Nigeria’s excellent outing at the last ICAO security audit which took place in June 2015 attests to our efforts in this area.
“We, however, believe that ICAO and member-states must continue to put in place proactive measures to curb ever-increasing threat to security of civil aviation.”
According to him, Nigeria is also in consultation with the United Nations to establish aviation security training schools, which will serve not only Nigeria, but the entire sub-region.
NAN reports that the 39th Session of the Assembly, which opened on Tuesday, is scheduled to end on Oct. 7.
According to ICAO, each Member State is entitled to one vote on matters before the Assembly, and decisions at the sessions are taken by a majority of the votes cast – except where otherwise provided for in the Convention.