Why Ministry of Aviation’s BASA Directorate needs overhaul

2019 general elections has come and gone with notable Nigerians of different shades, characters and motives elected to the various offices to represent Nigerians in leading the national project called Nigeria.

The presidential election in particular brought about the second coming of President Muhammadu Buhari to run the affairs of the most populous country in Africa as a civilian.

As expected, Nigerians are presently waiting anxiously to see those who will make up the team that will join in bringing the dividends of democracy to Nigerians and the sectors of the economy.

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Nigeria’s aviation sector which happens to be one of the most crucial sectors to the survival and continuous relevance of the country in the comity of nations, with its key players responsible for keeping the sector afloat, have joined in the waiting galore to see who will run the sector in the latest dispensation.

Whoever is coming on board, whether it is the immediate past minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika or whoever, topmost of the demands on the lips of key players is the need for the total overhaul of the Directorate of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) at the Ministry of Aviation.

The BASA Directorate is no doubt the soul of the entire sector by virtue of its position as the supposed eyes and ears of the country through the role the officials there play as representatives of the country when it comes to negotiating air travel agreements between Nigeria and other parts of the world.

Because of this critical role, the directorate is expected to be highly technical even more than the diplomatic corps.

The general view about the officials manning that directorate presently in view of the unpalatable experiences the sector has recorded in the recent past is that of disappointment and negligence.

It is no longer news about how most of the over 80 BASA agreements these ministry officials had signed on behalf of the country have been found to be the bane of the entire sector as witnessed in the highly imbalanced and disadvantageous statuses of the agreements to the country.

Many of these officials hardly consider national interest, but put on the toga of personal interest while rushing to sign the agreement which is what has been responsible for the unlimited opportunities being enjoyed by the foreign carriers operating into the country, while the same officials fail to work with the government to engage in international aero politics to protect the few Nigerian carriers in existence.

Since the demise of Nigeria Airways, not many within the responsible directorates in the ministry and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority have clear knowledge or understanding of BASA and its administration which before now had never been the exclusive management of the Ministry of Aviation without input of the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Trade.

Without any sentiment, in the face of the lapses in the existing anti-national air agreements, it will be of great benefit to the sector and Nigeria if the BASA directorate at the Ministry of Aviation is completely overhauled in the coming dispensation.

The body language of many of the officials in charge of BASA negotiation at the ministry is tilting towards that of someone faced by an exhaustive tiredness gasping for fresh ideas.

The directorate is obviously lagging behind and therefore, requires urgent surgical masks and injection of fresh blood into the system to at least correct the long years of injustices and imbalances against the country and its domestic airlines.

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