Intrigues and counter intrigues about national carrier
Honourable Minister, let me first sincerely appreciate the efforts you have made in ensuring the country’s aviation sector is greatly transformed in line with international standards.
Without mincing words, you have played a major role in adding value to the image of the sector which had hitherto suffered bad image, no thanks to long years of bad policies and the subsequent unfriendly environment created by past governments.
However, Nigeria is made up of over 170 million Nigerians belonging to different cadres and interest groups. For sure, many Nigerians are highly conscious of the happenings around them and even around the world.
Again, Nigerians are known to be among the most travelled. Hence, when they travel and return to this country, they like to compare whatever they observe in foreign countries to what obtains here.
This brings to the fore the ongoing controversies raging after the unveiling of the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, to the international community in faraway London at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show. This has been generating different reactions from different interest groups.
While some of the reactions may not be objective, some are purely based on professionalism and sincerity and your latest reaction to these reactions has shown that you are not comfortable with the positions of some of the groups.
In your reaction, sir, while describing the reactions as a campaign of falsehood, you retorted: “The current campaign of falsehood, unfortunately reminds me of what happened when we decided for safety reasons to close Abuja Airport and make repairs that had been abandoned for years. The same group of Nigerians went to social media again spreading falsehood. We stayed on course and delivered the runway which has served now faultlessly. As we delivered on the Abuja runway repairs so shall we on the national carrier and we will not bow to falsehood.”
After hitting back at those responsible for the reactions, you took your time to eventually respond to most of the questions Nigerians have been yearning to have answers to.
Minister, sir, without any bias, many of those asking questions are doing so because they think they have the right to know the manner of a national carrier the government is preparing for them and not to embarrass the government; neither are they just asking for the fun of it, but just to ensure the required due diligence is followed absolutely in midwifing this national project.
These people are agitated because no one has been providing them the necessary information they deserve to know about the identity of the national carrier which will eventually fly the flag of Nigeria as a sovereign nation belonging to every Nigerian.
Obviously, the little explanation you gave in your latest reaction will to an extent change some perceptions about the coming national carrier.
However, while everyone has the right to ask questions on things not clear to them when such things touch on the generality of Nigeria and Nigerians, it is the responsibility of those in charge to carry everyone along.
Minister, sir, agreed that you as a representative of Nigerians have the right to take certain steps on their behalf, but the people have the same right to ask questions when they are not convinced about them. But again, all these so called reactions would have been avoided if the minister had earlier taken time to give all these latest explanations given about the national carrier.
The minister in his explanation even cited a similar reaction the closure of the Abuja airport runway for repairs generated until it was successfully carried out. Since the minister knows that Nigerians because of their inquisitiveness, will always ask questions, he should not have waited before telling them certain things about the airline project.
The decision to keep away the identity and other information surrounding the national carrier is what gave rise to the barrage of reactions and questions.
Those asking the questions are doing so not to frustrate the government but to avoid a situation where the good idea of having a new national carrier after 15 years will not turn to another national embarrassment that similar efforts made to float Virgin Nigeria had created.
While it is hoped that the minister will look into the questions that have been raised about the national carrier and make amendments, Nigeria deserves another national carrier now. But there is the need for more transparency about the whole process.
Above all, the lesson to be learnt in this scenario is that government officials should always be more open when taking some sensitive steps like the floating of a new national carrier as this will prevent suspicion and confusion.