President Muhammadu Buhari was told on Monday that “the level of aviation development in any country mirrors the economic development of that country” because “Civil aviation is a catalyst for economic development”.
Mr. Buhari, who has been nicknamed “junketer in chief”, because of his many frequent trips abroad, was receiving the President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr. Bernard O. Aliyu at the State House in Abuja when the latter made the remarks.
The President returned from Washington D.C. on Monday where he had gone to attend a nuclear security summit. He’s flying again to China next week for a four day visit and the signing of a railways contract.
At the meeting with ICAO boss on Monday, Mr. Buhari argued that “if Ethiopia is sustained largely by her airline industry, we have greater potentials here”. But, he quickly added, “Nigeria needs to work on her potentials, so that we don’t remain permanently at the level of potentials”.
To achieve this, the President said, “we need to re-establish the integrity of this country. We need to rebuild this country again.”
Mr. Buhari recalled that during the greater part of the last 16 years, oil sold above $100 per barrel but regrettably, the nation wasted the huge earnings.
“In the First Republic, more enduring infrastructure was built with meagre resources. But in the past 16 years, we made a lot of money without planning for the rainy day.
“We showed a lot of indiscipline in managing our economy, and that is why we are where we are today. But this time round, we’ll do our best.”
Dr Aliyu, the Nigerian-born ICAO president commended President Buhari for strides on anti- corruption, and urged Nigeria to pay more attention to development of civil aviation, according to a statement by spokesman Femi Adesina.
“Civil aviation is a catalyst for economic development. The level of aviation development in any country mirrors the economic development of that country,” Dr Aliyu said.
The ICAO president pledged to support the development of the aviation industry in Nigeria and urged the country to improve on training and capacity development, aviation security, aerodromes and air navigation, runways, control towers, terminal buildings, among others.
This story has been corrected to reflect that it was the President of ICAO who compared the level of development of a country to the development in aviation industry. The mix up is regretted, but corrected.