I thank all of you that have travelled from far and wide to participate in this investigation, which has been prompted by the Senate’s commitment to reposition underperformingsectors of the Nigerian economy for better delivery through our oversight powers.
Many of you will recall that at the Plenarysitting on Wednesday, 13th January, 2016, the 8th Senate deliberated on the Report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Aviation, which discovered certain discrepancies in the disbursement and utilisation of a $40 million AFRIXIM loan, and N35.5 billion. The Federal Government allegedly released these funds in 2011 to modernise the deteriorating infrastructure in Nigeria’s aviation industry.
At that session, the Senate directed its Joint Committee on Aviation and Anti-Corruption to further investigate the allegations of misappropriation in the report, and give an account of its findings to the full plenary. This is why we are here today.
Undoubtedly, the importance of Nigeria’s aviation industry to our policy thrust towards economic diversification cannot be trivialised. This is because our network of airlines, provides personal mobility to various destinations both within and outside the country; allows the Nigerian economy to participate more freely in the international division of labour; and makes even the most remote locations in Nigeria that have nearby airports, more attractive for foreign investors willing to engage in business in our country.
In this regard, it is crucial that at this public hearing, we get to the bottom of how the funds that were released five (5) years ago to bring the degenerating infrastructure of our federal airports up to par were utilised.
Doing this would allow us to better strategiseon the way forward for both our aviation industry, and our transportation sector as a whole. Because, as we work to awaken our railway sector through appropriate legislation; and further develop our existing road infrastructure, it is important that the aviation industry is not left behind.
Consequently, as we move forward with the business of the day, I would like to encourage you all to contribute freely and fully.
Additionally, I would like to stress the importance of this investigation: This is not a witch-hunt. We have no pre-determined agenda going into this investigation. This is only an opportunity for us to get things right, and “get things right, right now.”
What I mean by this is that the Senate stands fully committed to pushing for the recommendations and findings of the report that will be generated from this investigative public hearing.
For this reason, after tomorrow’s session is concluded, I urge the Joint Committee on Aviation and Anti-Corruption to make haste – yet still be thorough – in concluding and submitting its report for further legislative action by the full plenary.
It is my hope that this hearing will further enlighten us on the way forward for the Aviation industry.
On this note, may I now formally declare open this Public hearing.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE COMMITTEE ON AVIATION ON THE “WORRISOME AND UNSTABLE POSITION OF THE NIGERIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY. MONDAY, 20TH JUNE, 2016.