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Stakeholders score aviation low in first year of Tinubu’s government

  • …as Keyamo lists achievements…

One year in office of President Bola Tinubu and eight months of Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development in the saddle, stakeholders have rated the performance of the government in the aviation sector, scoring the administration low in terms of policy formulation and implementation.

They said the Minister, Mr. Festus Keyamo has a lot more work to do to prove the critics wrong.

Keyamo had listed 10 key achievements in the last eight months he took over the mantle of leadership of the aviation sector.

Among the achievements listed included the settlement of land dispute over the Abuja Airport second runway, relocation of foreign airlines to the new international terminal in Lagos, making it fully operational.

In partnership with the immigration service, the HMA expedited and supervised the remodeling of the Arrival Hall of Wing E at Lagos International Airport into a brand-new facility through a Public-Private Partnership.

A statement listing the Minister’s achievements signed by his media aide, Tunde Moshood added, “The Minister of Aviation ensured the swift repair and reactivation of Lagos’ Second Runway (18R), which had been out of service for nearly a year before assuming office, thereby restricting the busiest airport in the country to the use of only one runway for that period of time. 

“By working closely with the CBN, the Minister of Aviation ensured the clearance of a longstanding backlog of trapped funds for foreign airlines, resolving an issue that had persisted for years.”

The Minister’s spokesman also listed the commencement of UK flight by Air Peace as one of the achievements, saying the Minister “broke the longstanding monopoly of foreign airlines on the UK-Nigeria route by actively engaging with the UK authorities to grant Air Peace, a local airline, reciprocal operating rights under Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Service Agreement with the UK.”

“The HMA recently returned from Saudi Arabia, where he worked to revive the resumption of the long-dormant cargo flight operations between the two countries,” he added.

However, stakeholders who spoke to Daily Trust off and on record scored the administration low in the aviation sector, saying aviation business had been badly impacted by the macroeconomic environment which has shot up the prices of ticket, increased aviation fuel price from over N700 to N1,500 per litre.

“Nothing has happened, all the talks on accomplishments are all just hogwash. Second runway, Nigeria Air is fraudulent. You said Nigeria Air is fraudulent yet you have designated Nigeria Air to the UK,” a stakeholder who pleaded not to be named said.

A former General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye stated that one year after the aviation sector has remained stagnant.

He said, “One year after, it is regrettable that we are still walking in circles and abandoning fundamental things we should have corrected, reviewed and or implemented. 

“When the Minister was appointed, there were mixed feelings and those who didn’t like or support his appointment as our Minister will be laughing their heads off now, while those in his support, who trusted in him that as a lawyer, activist and new generation Nigerian would fare well and better are regretting now somehow.”

He stated that despite the goodwill the immediate past Minister, Hadi Sirika enjoyed with his closeness to the former President Muhammadu Buhari, his achievements were not impressive.

“The current Minister may even be worse than Sirika unless he takes a break from his persistent know it all, and it is me alone syndrome and ego that he is carrying around. 

“He has made more mistakes than Sirika in terms of policies, formulation and implementation. He doesn’t listen to anyone and carries on the aura of someone who can do it alone.”

Aviation Management Consultant, Mr. Babatunde Adeniji also spoke along the same line, saying, “The more things change the more they remain the same it seems. The set up, pronouncements and actions so far do not inspire much confidence…

“We are yet to see a broad clear overarching vision of what we want the industry to become. We have 5 agendas which are basically an underlying plan or program but no articulated overarching orchestrated strategy.”

According to him, many of the listed achievements are under the purview of the agencies and their management.

“In fact the Lagos Runway completion is one of the reported 100 days of FAAN,” he added.

Also speaking the Chairman of Westlink Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia advised the Ministry to read the various position papers on aviation development. “Let him continue to read those presentations people have been sending him. He said he has read a lot and based on that; he is tackling them. He started with Nigeria Air, why he stopped it and I commend him for doing that because the way it (Nigeria Air) was done, it was nonsense. So, he should continue to read. He has a lot of blueprints he can work with.”