By Ola Erinfowojura
It was the late Reggae super star, Bob Marley, that aptly captured the unreliable nature of man as typified in his excessive behaviour, when he sang in one of his hit songs, “give them a yard, they take a mile.”
Man, from the onset, indulges in some misadventure that makes the gods always angry. Give him a chance to act as a ruler for a while, you will see his true nature either as a servant leader or dictator. Greed, hatred, outburst of anger, selfish interest, jealousy and sexual immorality are major weaknesses of an average man. Or how else would you defend a man that defiled his 12-year-old daughter to satisfy his crazy sexual urge? The list of these unspeakable behaviours are a daily experience and endless too.
Marley portrays man in his song as never contented specie. Generally, though not all men could be classified into this abnormality. When men and women of cerebral excellence and strong patriotic will turn around things to make great impact of political and economic relevance in the society, people with dissonant mentality see a different thing altogether! This group of persons abounds in all facets of human endeavour and coming home here, the aviation industry is no exception to this social degradation promoting the pull-him-down syndrome pills.
They parade themselves as industry experts when in actual fact they are industry destroyers, cynics, confusionists, and chronic antagonists who see nothing laudable and promotional in the sector since the exit of the military almost 14 years ago.
Under the military then, the nation’s air transport industry suffered a terrible setback in all ramifications, reaping negatively from the pariah status of the nation among the comity of nations. It was a time when long years of neglect induced catastrophe, resulting to break down of facilities at the nation’s airports.
The good news is that this sad chapter has changed for the better and progressively over half a decade under the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, whose reliable aide, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, has been outstanding in driving the vision of Mr. President in the sector. This Amazon of the aviation industry, with strong private sector record of excellence, quickly undertook the remodelling of 11 major airports in the country. A few of them in Lagos, Benin and Yola have been completed and commissioned to the delight of the travelling public who are yelling for more!
Apart from this, the last aviation road show abroad has been adjudged to be a success in a singular drive to inject vibrancy into the industry through foreign investment. Positive responses from aviation firms from China, USA and Canada lend credence to this astounding story. With a comprehensive master plan/road map, she rolled out the much celebrated Aerotropolis project aimed at transforming the airports to a multipurpose entity that will enlarge job and revenue generation for both the government and private investors.
Agencies under her ministry have been given new business orientation, leading to restructuring and re-jigging for optimal results that almost eluded the sector before her arrival. To ensure steady growth and contribution to the nation’s GDP, she got approval for import waiver on all commercial aircraft and spares. This singular effort received accolades from the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).This woman of destiny is not done yet, as she is not relenting in pushing for the establishment of a befitting national carrier, though with different ownership formulation. She is undoubtedly on the fast track to bequeath a lasting legacy and has proved cynics wrong on all fronts.
It was not surprising, therefore, that the chairperson, House Committee on Aviation, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, declared during a budget defence for 2013: “the aviation ministry has surpassed other ministries in terms of capital budget implementation for 2012 fiscal year. The transformation of our airport terminals by the minister is phenomenal and highly commendable.” The upper chamber of was not left out in this praise and commendation.
Her achievements may not have gone down well with self-acclaimed experts such as Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) who now ride on the beguiling wing of the unfortunate June 3, 2012 DANA air disaster in Lagos to market his ‘expertise’ in the crude manner of an 18th Century article merchant. It is my candid belief that it is only those who have been feeding on the previous rot in the industry that could be audacious enough in this maladaptive orgy of painting white as black.
Where was Ojikutu when the Runway 18 Left of the Lagos airport was not lit for more than five years and what was his response when the minister gave Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) a matching order to install airfield lighting on this runway without further delay – which was accomplished on December 24, 2012?
Of course, no good comment! Perhaps this ‘expert’ would have preferred that the airlines should continue to burn fuel taxing from the international wing for 15 minutes to disembark passengers at the local wing for lack of airfield lighting on this particular runway. One of the affected airlines in a recent press interview to acknowledge the minister, disclosed losing N600million monthly on all its fleet having to land in the night on the runway at the international wing of the airport.
In the face of this unsavoury onslaught, Oduah has remained undaunted and burning with determination to leave an unassailable legacy in the aviation industry, not only in Nigeria, but the entire Sub-Saharan Africa.
What Oduah deserves now is cooperation of all, to achieve the new vision for the thriving Nigeria aviation industry.
• Erinfowojura, member, Association of Practicing Aviation Professionals, writes from Lagos.