Except the Federal Government restructure existing laws guidng certain aspects of business operations in the country, particularly in the aviation sector; Executive Order issued recently by the Presidency to allow ease of doing business in the country may not be effectively achieved.
This observation was made by the President of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Barrister Ahmed Illitrus at the 14th National Delegates Conference and Symposium organised recently in Port Harcourt by the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
Illitrus said that, although, Nigeria encourages Foreign Direct Investment but unfortunately, the country has laws, processes that do not provide the necessary assistances, comfort, ease for people to come into Nigeria.
The renowned lawyer pointed out that it is difficult to register companies to do business in Nigeria while there are existing laws that are conflicting in nature.
Comrade Illitrus said “Like I said severally, Nigeria Investment and Promotion Council (NIPC) Act allows for 100 per cent foreign ownership of business in Nigeria in all sectors of the economy. In the Civil Aviation Act, there is a provision for local content. And the local content says that you must have a majority stakeholding in the business by Nigerians. You can see the conflict between the two laws”.
The ATSSSAN leader advised the federal government to learn what happens in other jurisdiction, noting that if we want to have foreign direct investment in Nigeria, we must create that enabling environment including rejuvenation of our laws to allow for ease of doing business in our industry.
“The ease of doing business goes beyond the airport as a structure. You know it is all encompassing. Ease of doing business has to do with facilitation of flights, facilitation of business registration into Nigeria. It has to do with infrastructure to support the activities in the airport”, Illitrus added.
Illitrus decried the present state of Port Harcourt International Airport, pointing out that the airport is in a very bad state, ddsdespite the fact that huge sums of money was budgeted towards renovation and remodeling of the airport.
While appealing to the government to take urgent steps to bring the airport back to life, Illitrus noted that contractors in charge should be mandated to ensure that the airport project is completed.
“We cannot continue to keep the airport in this sorry state. For me, there is an engagement ; somebody has been commissioned and contracted to do the job. Those contracted to do the job should be called to order. They should be asked to explain why the job has stopped. If it is an issue of funding, government has the responsibility to look into it and to direct that necessary things need to be done even in the interim to ensure that, such facility is given a facelift urgently”.
Blaming the aviation ministry, Illitrus said that the government agency would have used that period when Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA) was shut down for renovation of runway to bring the airport structure to global standard.
On PHIA Ilitrus further emphasisd “The makeshift facilities to accommodate passengers handling is to say the least, is dehumanising and it should not be accepted by anybody. For me, there is an engagement; those who have been contracted to do the job should be called to order. Like I said, because it is something that that needs urgent intervention of the government; whatever the case, the government can even provide the resources for the job to be completed and whatever, reconcile the differences with the contractor”.
“The state of PHIA is a national shame. We have one of your sons in charge of Ministry for Transportation. Government can intervene and reconcile the Legal issues thereafter”.
Illitrus however, enjoined the Nigerian government to imitate what the Ethiopian government has done to Ethiopian Airline.
“There should be 24 hours operations in our airports. Ethiopian Airline enjoys massive subsidy from its government. Again, the Prime Minister pays for any service. There is no interface from government on the management of the airline. The Nigerian airlines was killed because people had made up their mind to liquidate the airline”, the ATSSSAN leader stated.