By LAWANI MIKAIRU
President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday swore in and deployed the former Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Mr Osita Chidoka as the new Minister of Aviation. It will be recalled that the Aviation ministry has been without a substantive minister since February when the former minister, Princess Stella Oduah was removed. A supervising minister, Dr Samuel Ortom has been overseeing the ministry.
The appointment of Chidoka has attracted reactions from aviation stakeholders. The Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employee (NUATE), Mr Olayinka Abioye said the union welcomes the newly confirmed Minister for Aviation “with mixed feelings”.
Speaking in Lagos, Abioye said it was the prerogative of the President to choose whoever he wants as a minister. He, however, said that the Minister should continue with the transformation project being executed by the former minister. According to him: “ the new minister should complete the ongoing projects started by the former aviation minister. We hope funds will be made available by the Federal Government for the speedy completion of these projects.”
Abioye also said the sector would have preferred somebody from the aviation industry, adding however that he hoped the new minister would learn quickly from the sector. “An aviation professional would have quickly adjusted and get on with the work at hand. We hope the new minister will learn fast and get on with the challenges in the industry.”
Reacting also, the former Lagos Airport Commandant , Retired Group Captain John Ojikutu said the new minister should focus less on constructing or remodeling of airport terminal building which is for private investors. He said: “ first, he should focus less on constructing or remodeling of airport terminal building which is for private investors like Babalakin did at Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal 2. It is a waste of public funds.”
“ He should focus on critical safety and security infrastructures like airport perimeter and security fences; runway and approach lighting and navigational aids; aeronautical information services communication, fire and rescue equipment and fire personnel , ATCS personnel, NCAA inspectors etc. “
Ojikutu also said the minister should critically look into the exploitation of BASA by ministry officials to benefit foreign airlines and the recent abolishing of royalties and commercial agreement.
“To deprive the country of a revenue of over $200m from foreign airlines that are benefiting more than we do from BASA , are yet, giving them multiple landings thereby depriving our private airlines the benefit of domestic market.