“May I invite to the podium, Senator Hadi Abubakar Sirika, Minister of State, Aviation, Nigeria!”
As he stepped onto the podium amidst thunderous applause from an audience of aviation professionals drawn from over 100 countries, his steps exuded confidence of a man at home on a familiar terrain.
The occasion is the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) World Aviation Forum in Montreal, Canada.
As he engaged his captivated audience on the topic “How safe and reliable air transport delivers important economic benefits to States”, it became clearer that Nigeria is taking its rightful place as the centre point of aviation in Africa.
Hear him: “Nigeria, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, will continue to upgrade and develop aviation infrastructure to improve aviation Safety and Security, thus creating an enabling environment for growth of airlines and other service providers, as well as protecting the interest of aviation end-users”.
His colleagues from Canada, Colombia as well as major stakeholders from China, Europe and America formed part of a global audience of aviation enthusiasts who were treated to rich and coherent symbiotic relationship of sustainable economies and sustainable aviation.
Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, the President of the Council of ICAO, himself a Nigerian, could not have been happier. He is serving out his tenure as the first African to occupy that office.
Hadi Sirika did not find himself on the global scene by accident.
A retired pilot and aeronautic engineer with diverse experience in the aviation industry, Senator Hadi Sirika is a graduate of Petroleum Helicopters Institute, Flight Safety International and Delta Aeronautics all in the United States of America. While in active service, Sirika succumbed to pressure from his people and was subsequently elected into Federal House of Representatives to represent Dutsi/Mashi Federal Constituency in Katsina State from 2003 – 2007.
During this period, he was the Vice Chairman, House Committee on Aviation and his diverse experience in the aviation industry was extremely beneficial to the committee during oversight functions. Most significantly, his in-depth contributions and understanding of the industry aided in the smooth passage of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Agency Autonomous bill in 2006. Following this remarkable stint, he was again drafted and elected as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Katsina North Senatorial district from 2011 to 2015. He distinguished himself as Member Senate Committee on Aviation and Vice Chairman, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) where he deeper his skills in governance.
The appointment of this aviator to drive the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari administration was an answered prayer for aviation stakeholders who craved for one of their own. A perfect fit for a round peg in a round hole.
As he stepped off the podium to a standing ovation, Sen Hadi Sirika who is barely 10 days in office as Minister of State, Aviation was not done yet. Like James Bond in James Hardly Chase’s epic thriller, he left a parting shot for the President of ICAO, Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu. “Nigeria will support you for another term as President of ICAO!”.
Yakubu Dati is the Head of Public Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria