With the unveiling of the logo and the planned take-off of Nigeria Air in December President Muhammadu Buhari has gone beyond completing abandoned projects to resurrecting dead projects.
Making this observation in a statement in Abuja, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) says it is gratifying that the Nigeria Airways killed by PDP government in 2003 is being brought back to life by PMB 15 years after.
In the statement signed by the Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group applauded the move and noted especially the acquisition of new Boeing aircrafts.
“This is a most welcome development which will benefit the country in more ways than one, another promise kept and a further proof of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to correcting the wrongs of the past.”
The group recalled that when the President vowed to revive the Nigerian Airways that was liquidated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2004, many Nigerians were understandably cynical because of the failed promises of previous governments.
“When the then Candidate Buhari gave his words on the National Carrier, many people who had been told that a government owned airline was not viable felt he was playing to the gallery, but it is now clear that the President is a man of his words,” the group said.
It added that with the unveiling of the logo what many people had dismissed as a political gimmick has begun to manifest.
The group pointed out that “many older Nigerians would recall that as at 1984 when Buhari was then a military ruler, Nigerian Airways had 34 aircraft, so he was understandably shocked that smaller countries were running well-managed airlines with private sector support and laid the groundwork for what we are seeing now.”
The group reminded Nigerians that the new national carrier is just one aspect of an Aviation master-plan which include a maintenance, repair and overhaul centre, an aviation leasing company and airport concessioning -all designed to make the country the aviation hub for west and central Africa.
BMO also commended the Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika for running with the President’s dream, from planning to execution, while urging him to ensure that the December take-off date is sacrosanct.
It however urged him to learn from the missteps of previous administrations by ensuring that the public/private partnership arrangement is water-tight in order to realise the government’s aspiration of profit within three year’s of operation
On the possible benefits of Nigeria’s investment in a new national carrier, BMO noted that the vacuum created by the absence of a national carrier is costing Nigeria $6.4 billion annually as a result of its inability to reap the benefits from 78 Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) from non-payment of royalty by foreign carriers.
This, it says, is an estimate provided by aviation experts of what international operators should have been paying but for the inability of Nigerian airlines to reciprocate the number of flights operated by these foreign carriers due to lack of capacity and the fact that the country does not have strong airlines that operate many international destinations.
BMO says it is convinced that the Buhari administration would put in place the necessary processes to ensure that never again will Nigeria be deprived of a national flag carrier at a time smaller African countries are running viable, profitable airlines.