Aviation stakeholders have advised the new Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, to abandon the controversial national carrier, the Nigeria Air project.
The Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Security Limited, Capt. John Ojikutu (retd), told our correspondent in Abuja that the new aviation minister should focus on the successful execution of airport concessions instead of the controversial national carrier.
Furthermore, he urged Keyamo to shift his focus towards policies that pertain to flag carriers.
In addition, he stressed the significance of collaborating with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Justice to review bilateral air services agreements.
He said, “Keyamo or any other person matters less as the minister for aviation but whoever is appointed as the DG NCAA is statutorily the civil aviation authority, not the minister. Secondly, as far as my brain can prompt my memory, no aviator has done a better job as a minister than many others who were not.
“We once had Capt. Briggs, formerly of Nigeria Airways and very recently Sirika. Even with the eight years of Sirika, the longest time by any minister, the industry, particularly the public agencies and private operators, never had so much political interference and distortions in their operations and development from the ministry.
“Keyamo should just remain in his office but ensure that the airport concessions go on as planned and forget about the plan for the so-called national carrier. He should make policies for flag carriers and leave further processes and operational regulations for the NCAA.
“The review of the BASAs should be his concern alongside the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Justice.”
Reacting to Keyamo’s appointment as aviation minister, the Assistant Secretary General of Aviation Round Table, Olumide Ohunayo, noted that the sector had traumatic experiences during the tenure of the previous minister.
He said, “Congratulations to him. He is coming at a time when the industry is trying tremendously to recover from the post-traumatic experience we had with the immediate past minister.
“We cannot say it is Uhuru for us, but I will not join in using the word to hit the ground running. He cannot hit the ground running. He has to hit the ground and turn back and look at the different forms of the road map that is on the ground. They offer public interest and public investments.”
With hopes of industry recovery, Ohunayo emphasised the need for the new minister to bring a fresh perspective and robust legal expertise to resolve contentious agreements affecting public interest and investments.
“I pray that affliction will not arise a second time for us in the industry.
“As a lawyer, he should ask for all the documents to be able to look at them. Also, importantly for me, what I want to see from him is that by background being an activist in the past, a lawyer and a SAN, he needs to look at almost all our agreements that were signed in the last eight years on behalf of the Federal Government. He should set up a legal team to look at it critically,” he stated.
According to him, Keyamo also needs to look at those that are there before like the one with MM2 Bi-Courtney that needs to be resolved and other concession agreements.
“They need to resolve that because it is only when you resolve these agreements you will be able to attract genuine investment, not the ones that come through a minister’s friendship. He needs to get a team that will assemble a very strong legal team of aviation and other lawyers,” he asserted