Key players across the aviation sector have declared that the Nigerian aviation sector cannot afford a neophyte as the Minister of aviation, especially at this time in view of the challenges confronting the sector.
While some of the key players argued that the sector needs a minister who was familiar with the terrain, to hit the ground running, others have however argued that the past ministers appointed with aviation knowledge performed below the expectation.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TopBrass Aviation, Captain Roland Iyayi in an interview said that an aviation minister without industry background and deep knowledge of the sector would come in to learn on the job for some period of time.
While declaring that the sector could not afford a minister without industry experience at this time due to the complexity of the industry and the damage it has suffered from successive governments in the past, Iyayi lamented how the Nigerian government had continued to do the same thing over the years, and yet expected different outcomes.
He stated that the industry had been pushed to its brink and now in comatose stage.
Iyayi, who warned that the present situation of the industry may get worse under the new government, however, said the growth or otherwise of the sector depends largely on the agenda set by Keyamo with his vision.
According to him, the sector in Nigeria needed policies that can address the sub-optimal utilisation of infrastructure assets within the industry, while also making services affordable for all, especially the airline operators.
His words: “In terms of areas of focus, I guess that would be determined by his vision. However, given where the industry is at the moment, there is a dire need for a broad policy framework to deepen the penetration and reach of aviation in the economy.
Additionally, a broad review of all the prescriptive and growth inhibiting policies are necessary immediately.
“Furthermore, the excess taxes, fees and charges arbitrarily imposed on airlines at the whims and caprices of the industry regulator and service providers must be reviewed and reversed immediately, otherwise we would be witnessing a string of airline failures in the not too distant future.
For the immediate past President of Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr Gabriel Olowo, the Ministry of aviation should be abolished and returned as a department in the Ministry of Transportation like it is in the United States even as he lamented how a standalone Ministry of Aviation had deprived the sector of growth in the past years.
“I am of the school that it should be a department in the Ministry of Transportation, just as it is in the U.S. It will have less political interference and manipulations on Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and significantly reduce the cost of governance with already lean purse. The government should shut down the Aviation Ministry if Mr. President cannot appoint tested aviators.”
In his reaction, the Managing Director of Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu, retired, unlike the opponents of Keyamo as the minister due to his lack aviation experience, said that none of the aviators appointed as Minister of Aviation in the past had performed better than non-industry persons in recent years.
He cited Captain Benoni Briggs and Senator Hadi Sirika with aviation backgrounds that were appointed but failed to live up to expectations.
Ojukutu further explained that despite the fact that Sirika, was the longest serving minister in the annals of the sector and with less disruption in the agencies, the industry recorded less growth in the past eight year.
He appealed to Keyamo to avoid having unnecessary interferences in the aviation agencies, stressing that the issue of civil aviation responsibility should be left with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) without political interference.
While advising the new minister to jettison the idea of a national carrier, but embrace the flag carrier option, Ojikutu declared: “Keyamo should just remain in his office, but ensure that the airports concession go on as planned and forget about the plan for the so-called national carrier, but make policies for flag carriers and leave further processes and operational regulations for the NCAA.”