To address the socio-economic problems of the region, the Niger Delta leaders are considering investment in aviation sector.
In Uyo on Tuesday, Mr. Patrick Onwura, representing the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, in a paper presented to the National Council on Niger Delta, signed by Assistant Director, Federal Ministry of Transport, rates aviation sector as one of the most vibrant areas that will quicken the region’s economic development.
The paper, titled "Aviation sector as a catalyst to the development initiatives for the transformation of the Niger Delta region," portrays aviation sector as a tool to promote travel and tourism, agricultural production and distribution, rural development, trade and commerce, manufacturing and other non-oil sectors of the economy.
"In order to reposition the aviation sector in Nigeria for this role, government through the Federal Ministry of Aviation developed a comprehensive master plan/implementation framework with a view to providing a safe, secure, profitable and self-sustaining world class industry with a distinct airport experience for flyers.
"It similarly consulted widely with industry stakeholders, the organised private sector, finance sector, diplomatic missions, etc to identify and agree on potential areas of opportunities for foreign and domestic investment.
"The core objectives of the Aviation Sector Development Master Plan is to make air transportation the preferred and safest means of transportation, creating a self-sustaining business model and driving socio-economic growth in Nigeria," Mr. Onwura said.
He called on the Niger Delta leaders to complement the efforts of the ministry by linking all the airports in the region with good access roads.
It was stated in the paper that Asaba and Port Harcourt airports have been designated special Economic Zone airports while Akure airport is for agro-allied and cargo airports.
Speaking on 'Niger Delta Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow', a professor in the Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Benin, Mike Obadan, said rebuilding of trust and hope, prioritisation of needs, and institutional cooperation and reforms are things that are crucial to the region's development.
He suggested the development of a 10-year horizon plan to harness the infrastructural base of the region with regards to roads, waterways, telecommunication, electricity, health, education, housing and petroleum depots.
Other things he listed as being crucial for the development of the region include database for development programmes; development of growth centres; provision of safety and security for productive activities; consideration of the concept of sustainable net national product; and direct involvement and ownership in oil and gas activities.