By Bose Adelaja & Emmanuel Eelebeke
Former President of Nigeria Aviation Safety Initiative, NASI, Captain Tito Omaghomi, has thrown his weight behind the appointment of Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi as Aviation Minister.
Omaghomi, who paid a visit to Vanguard in Lagos, yesterday, said there was nothing wrong with President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to appoint a non-aviator as a minister for the sector.
He spoke against the backdrop of protests by unions in the aviation industry opposing the appoitment of a non-aviator as minister to head the ministry.
He said the sector had fared well within the past three years, stressing that Mr. President should not reverse his decision as regards the new Minister.
He said: “As far as I am concerned, I see this appointment as normal and there is nothing wrong with it.
“The appointment of Director-General and others in the aviation school should be their concern and not the appointment of just one man. Their concern should be how pension could be paid as at when due.
“People should not ask Mr. President to change his decision because you don’t have to be an aviator before you can perform well as an Aviation Minister.”
Omaghomi, who was former Nigeria Airways pilot, posited that an Aviation Minister should not necessarily be an aviator before she can perform. He urged the union members to come to terms with the new appointment.
He said: “I think some people are trying to be mischievous in this case. I am still waiting to see who their definition of an aviator is. Many of them claimed about 10 million aviators voted for Mr. President. I wonder how they come about such a figure. May be some of the passengers that board the aircraft have become aviators.”
“We have the right Director General in the aviation industry. I think the industry has been moved forward in the past three years, we have capable hands, The MD FAAN is on top of the game, I believe we don’t need to change them because nobody changes a winning team.”
On expatriates pilots dominating the industry, Capt. Omaghomi said airlines engaged foreign pilots because there were no good pilots anymore, especially with the liquidation of Nigeria Airways, which was a training ground for sound pilots.
He said: ‘’May I say Nigeria has produced the best set of pilots and we should keep it up and press towards having an accident-free aviation industry.
“You know our trouble started when we liquidated Nigeria Airways, co-pilots will have between 10 and 15 years to become a Captain. Today, good pilots are hard to come by in Nigeria; they are go to Asia. “Nobody can afford them any longer, also we are not making effort to train pilots any longer. In those days, Nigeria Airways used to be a training ground but this time around, nobody dictates to airlines about who to employ,’’ he added.