|This picture taken on October 23, 2005 shows a wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images|
For the first time in 70 years, Ghana will no longer manage Nigeria’s airspace. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate takeover of the country’s skies over the Gulf of Guinea from Ghana in West Africa, according to Nigerian newspapers.
After meeting with the Nigerian president Wednesday, aviation officials told journalists that Nigeria’s airspace was safe and other neighboring countries were also making arrangements to take over their airspaces from Ghana. “We have a directive by the president to start the process of securing the management of Nigerian airspace over the Gulf of Guinea, which Ghana has been maintaining since 1945, and there is a move on the ground by Togo and Republic of Benin to take over the management of their own airspace from Ghana,” Binta Bello, the permanent secretary for the aviation ministry, said in the capital Abuja, according to Daily Trust.
Buhari was briefed by officials at the presidential villa on the state of Nigeria’s aviation sector, which is facing massive debt. Some airlines are struggling to maintain premium operations, which Buhari said put safety, security and international respectability at great risk. The country’s national carrier, Nigeria Airways Limited, which was established in 1958, went under in 2003 and was later liquidated by the public enterprises bureau. Buhari has instructed aviation officials to re-establish a national carrier.
“The President is quite concerned about lack of national carrier for now and he has directed the ministry to look into the possibility of having a national carrier as soon as possible,” Bello said Wednesday, according to Vanguard Newspapers.
Buhari’s administration reportedly plans to revamp international airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugua and expand their capacity next year.
“I am concerned about the enormous debt profile in the aviation sector,” the Nigerian president said Wednesday, according to THISDAY. “Our airports are the windows through which people see our country. Anybody coming into the country will likely come through the airports. If we cannot secure and maintain our infrastructure, it will reflect very badly on us.”