Obiano Commends Buhari for Suspending Nigeria Air, Wants FG to Make Air Peace Flag Carrier
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has commended President
Muhammadu Buhari for suspending the establishment of Nigeria Air which was
announced recently by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, without disclosing
Describing the decision as courageous, Obiano noted the Buhari administration did not allow ego to get in the way of its suspension of the proposed carrier.
“Buhari did not behave like most African leaders who think that policy review is a mark of weakness even when the policy is asphyxiating”, the governor said in a statement signed by the Anambra State Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba.
“Buhari rather behaved like what academic researchers would call an authentic leader, that is, a leader humble enough to admit policy deficiencies and even personal errors”.
The governor observed the Nigerian “president was not held hostage by the fact that the government had launched the new carrier’s livery and logo with fanfare in London in July, or by the consideration that a reasonable amount of money has been spent on feasibility studies and the road show in London.
“Such expenses belong to what accountants know as sunk or spent funds, and it is not advisable to proceed with a project or programme that cannot work simply because the government wants to recover funds already spent on it”.
Chief Obiano, an accountant, auditor and former bank executive director, said it would have been a contradiction for the Federal Government to make an investment in the airline at a time it is divesting its 12.4 billion shares in the Nigerian Security and Minting Company to enable the firm to become more efficient and effective in its operations.
He argued that the failure of the proposed airline should not “make the nation gloss over the need for a flag carrier but should rather make us look inward and promote an airline which will be the pride of all Nigerians”.
The governor, therefore, urged the Federal Government to make Air Peace, Nigeria’s biggest airline, the Nigerian flag carrier.
“Air Peace”, he noted, “has a larger fleet than the other indigenous airlines put together”.
The leading Nigerian carrier last February became the first indigenous carrier to acquire the wide-body 777-200 plane for its international operations which will start in the last quarter of 2018, adding a Boeing 777-300 aircraft to its fleet last August 25.
Air Peace will next month commence direct flights to London, Houston, Johannesburg, Dubai, Mumbai and Guangzhou.
In the middle of last month, the airline stunned the aviation industry when its chairman, Barrister Allen Onyema, and the Boeing Commercial Airline Director, Mr Larry Tolliver, signed an agreement in the residence of the American consul general in Lagos to supply Air Peace with 10 brand new Boeing 737 MAX planes for $1.17 billion.
The delivery will increase the five-year old airline fleet to 30 and also make it the first West African carrier to own the MAX model of the hugely successful Boeing 737 series.
Governor Obiano noted that Air Peace is not just the fastest growing air carrier in Nigeria’s history but the most professionally managed.
“Apart from its 100% safety record”, he stated, “its ground and in-flight services are comparable to what passengers get from such world class airlines as British Airways, Delta Airline, Ethiopian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Emirates, Northwest, KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, etc.
“There is no reason not to make Air Peace Nigeria’s flag carrier immediately”, noting the thousands of jobs, economic and business opportunities it has created in the aviation value chain since 2013 when it was established.
The governor explained that contrary to the thinking of some people, a flag carrier does not have to be owned or promoted by the government, citing the example of the privately owned British Airways which serves as the UK flag carrier.
Obiano expressed confidence that “at the rate Air Peace is growing, it will give global airlines in Nigeria a good run for their money earlier than most people seem to realize”.