Buhari’s re-election: Key players set agenda
Following the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the just concluded Presidential election, stakeholders across the country’s aviation sector have continued to set agenda for the incoming government.
Many who spoke to Tribune Aviation declared their high expectations from the incoming government which they said will determine the level the sector is also expected to attain in the next four years.
While some of the stakeholders particularly called on the incoming government to seriously consider the abandoned plan to concession airports across the country, others want the government to change its slow tactics on how it intends to implement the road map of the sector which they said fell short of expectation in view of the hiccups that trailed its implementation in its first term.
Speaking on his expectation from Buhari, the Managing Director of Centurion Security, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retired), while saying there should be no requiem for the National carrier project, he tasked the incoming government to ensure it delivers the new national airline to Nigerians by the end of this year.
Urging the government to allow foreign technical partners/investors to hold 40% shares in the national airline, Ojikutu advised that Nigeria credible Investors should hold 20% just as he canvassed 25% shares for the Nigeria IPOs with the federal government owning 5% and State Governments holding 10% shares in the proposed national airline respectively.
Equally, Olumide Ohunayo, a Director at the Zenith Travels, while calling for the speedy implementation of the aviation sector’s roadmap, however said there was the need to tinker with some of the positions earlier adopted for the roadmap.
Ojikutu used the period to call on the incoming government to set up a committee to investigate the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the three major government agencies, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
He attributed reasons for the call for the probe of the agencies to the need for government to know the actual worth of the revenues being generated by the agencies and “possible wastage and to know if the government intervention funds to any of these agencies can be justified.
“The investigation should cover 2015 to 2018. Government would conclude at the end of the investigation that there are more revenues in these agencies than it is presently been declared and these can not be seriously ignored.”
While tasking the incoming government to open an aviation intervention account at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ojikutu said the aviation intervention account should serve the purpose of financing future projects in aviation that may require government intervention with funds from other social or economic sectors even as he said that the government 5% share holdings in the proposed national carrier should come from such funds.
“I have suggested foreign technical partners/investors because that is the only way now for the growth of a national carrier. That was how the defunct Nigeria Airways grew through the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and lasted about 50 years, that was and is Aero growing from the British technical partners until 2012 and with the exception of Ethiopian airline, that was how many African countries airlines grew up to mid 90s. Kenyan and South African airlines are still operating today because they are in some international alliances with some foreign airlines. Even private airlines like Virgin Atlantic are in alliances.Unfortunately, the corporate governance in the management of our airlines can not give any foreign airline confidence to go into serious alliances with them.”
Still speaking on the model to adopt in forming the new national carrier, Ojikutu declared: “My suggestions of partnership for the proposed national carrier should come from Australia, Canada and amongst low fare airlines in America and the European Union (EU) countries and not from our competitors on the international routes.
Another area he wants the second coming of the Buhari led government to address is the need for the concession of airports in the country saying; “Lastly, government must hasten the process of airports concession. If government must concession the four major airports, there is no justification to hold on to other airports that their revenues cannot sustain their operations. The concession of each of the four major airports must go with at least three other domestic airports. It can only result to waste of resources if the domestic airports are not concession along.
Like Ojikutu, Ohunayo who called for the speedy concession of the airports this time around, stated: “I personally want viable airports but I do not like the cherry picking method. I will like the whole system being handled in its entirety by an airport management company so that FAAN becomes very viable and all the airports will be developed at a time. I also look forward to a big national carrier as it is being called now that will evolve with the participation of some of the private carriers. We have used this to discourage investors in the two airlines, Arik and Aero, we have also used it to disturb the investors, interested participants from investing in the market furthermore because they were not sure of what is going to happen to the market, so we need to clear the air on the national carrier issue and move forward.
“I also want to see a restructuring of the agencies. What we have now is a place where anyone can send their ‘boys’ for employment. To make the agencies effective, we need to restructure the agencies’ organogram to be professionalized and have the benefits for the sector. We need to clear the mess that the agencies are meant for the boys because that is the impression. I want to see a strong leadership in the NCAA, we all know that it is the pivot of the sector, we have seen some good works done by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB)”