ICAO presidency: Nigeria declares support for UAE female candidate

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By Sumaila Ogbaje

The Nigerian Government has declared its support for Mrs Ayesha Al’Hameli, a female captain from the United Arab Emirate (UAE), to become the president of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Minister of State for Aviation, Sent. Hadi Sirika, pledged the support when the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Fahad Al’Tafaq, took the candidate on introduction visit to the minister on Thursday in Abuja.

Sirika said that ICAO needed somebody with the capacity to deliver the expectation of the world of aviation, saying that the UAE candidate had the quality and the capacity to handle the office.

He assured that the country would continue to work with ICAO to develop its aviation industry and develop its manpower.

“Certainly, regulating the world of aviation is no joke and I don’t think the world is ready to handover to those who may not be able to deliver the expectation of the world of Aviation.

“It has everything to do with experience of a person, the character of the person, the content of the person, acceptability and understanding of the workings of ICAO and the global aviation system in general.

“I want to assure you that from our own view, she has all those things that I described – Experience, character with the knowledge and technical capacity to be able to handle the job.

“We pray that when Capt. Ayesha gets this job, she would not let us down and she should be elected by the grace of God,’’ he said.

The minister said that Nigeria had the population and the advantage to become a big aviation market in the shortest possible time, saying the government was committed to turn things around.

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He said with the support of ICAO, Nigeria has been able to reposition and develop its aviation training school in Zaria, urging the candidate to continue with the support of ICAO toward the country.

Al’Hameli, who is also the UAE Representative at ICAO, said her decision to contest for the office of the president of ICAO was borne out of her desire to promote innovation in aviation industry.

She said that open sky within the African and Middle East region was needed to ensure seamless mobilisation of passengers within the region.

According to her, Nigeria is very important for us because it is one of the biggest countries in the region and I believe that your support is very important.

“As a president, I want to bring ideas to the table because I believe in innovation and I was thinking about it a lot especially, working with the current president.

‘’We are changing the way ICAO do things because every era has something that leadership can deliver.

“Open sky is the first we have to achieve, the mobilisation of passengers because at the end of the day, our industry exists because of the passengers.

“When I was traveling around this region I discovered that there is the need for infrastructure, which is very important and I belief ICAO can do a lot in mobilising resources to build infrastructure.

“Innovation is not a luxury any more, innovation will bring so much change and it is something that we are working on at ICAO now.

“We will go a step further to make that regulation a standard enabler for innovation and not hindrance,’’ she said.

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Earlier, the UAE Ambassador, Al’Tafaq said the purpose of the visit was to introduce their candidate to the country and solicit for support for her during the election.

Al’Tafaq said that his country believed so much in the ability of Mrs Al’Hameli to occupy the position of ICAO president based on her track record in aviation industry.

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