The pioneer Chairman of the Aviation Fuel Marketers Association of Nigeria (AFMAN), Dr Thomas Ogungbangbe, on Wednesday lamented that the Nigerian economy was not earning enough revenue from the nation’s aviation industry.
Ogungbangbe, in an interview with the News agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, said on the contrary, the industry was boosting the economies of other countries.
He said the sector was facing several challenges which had weakened the capacity of the sector to perform up to international standard and contribute to economic growth.
He enumerated the challenges facing the industry to include funding, weak regulation, poor maintenance, inadequate personnel, multiple taxation and high cost of aviation fuel, among others.
According to him, the Nigeria’s aviation industry which is supposed to be a major boost to the nation’s economy is working for the economies of other countries.
“The aviation industry is a catalyst for socioeconomic development in both developing and developed nations. It provides the fastest and safest means of transportation of people and cargo locally and internationally.
“With a population of over 180 million, an aviation sector that can adequately cater for the nation’s demands could generate increased income from both its citizens and international travellers.
“The aviation industry is a reflection of what the country’s economy is saying. You can use the situation of aviation sector of any country to calibrate or determine how its economy is doing.
“Precisely, in Nigeria we have about 15 million travellers and a population of about 180 million people, so this goes to say that we just really have about eight per cent of the industry being utilised.
“We have unprecedented opportunities that are locked within this industry that are not being harnessed” he said.
He said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) estimated that about 28 airlines had gone under in the last 50 years’ including three national carriers – Nigeria Airways, Virgin Nigeria and Air Nigeria.
Ogungbangbe called on the private sector and other stakeholders to partner the government to address a number of challenges to maximise the industry’s economic potential and stimulate the growth of the country’s economy.
“This is a cause for concern and of course, as practitioners within the industry, we cannot leave it all to government to do.
“So, there has to be some forms of partnership between the corporate or private sector and the government.
“We need to mobilise ourselves and do some corporate introspections to be able to analyse this problems and proffer solutions so as to help the industry, to help the economy and also position Nigeria as the hub for the entire West and Central Africa,” he said. (NAN)