From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
As the new Aviation Minister, former Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Mr Osita Chidoka’s task is daunting but how he goes about his new job will determined the successes or otherwise of the federal government avowed commitment to turn the over three decades of rot in the country’s aviation industry around. Already, the industry is agog with great expectations and stakeholders are laying before him some of the challenges he is likely to confront but also at the same time enumerate how he could be successful. Having been confirmed as the substantive Minister for Aviation before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday in Abuja, the former FRSC helmsman must now face the onerous task of continuing and completing the projects initiated by Stella Oduah, who birth the government Masterplan. Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employee (NUATE), Mr. Olayinka Abioye told reporters yesterday the union welcomes the new Minister with a mixed feeling and said it is the prerogative of Mr. President to choose whoever he wants has a minister.
The union leader charges Chidoka to continue with the transformation project being executed by the former minister but noted that the sector would have preferred an expert with industry background.
He said Chidoka should learn quickly from the sector and equally urges the FG to make money available to enable the new minister embarked on his new job.
Another stakeholder, leader of the industry pressure group, Aviation Round Table, Mr. Dele Ore advised he should ensure that the ongoing projects in the industry were completed before the expiration of the present administration.
Ore said uncompleted projects that could not be executed by the previous minster due to lack of funds should be revisited and also urges an harmonious relationship with various industry’s stakeholders in order to replicate the success he had made in the Federal Road Safety Corp. (FRSC) into the aviation sector. For John Ojikutu, a former Lagos Airport Commandant the new Minister should work around aviation experts that would move the industry forward. He “First, he should focus less on constructing or remodelling of airport terminal building which is for private investors like what Babalakin did at MMA2. It is a waste of public funds. He should focus on critical safety & security infrastructures like airport perimeter & security fences; runway & approach lighting and navigational aids; aeronautical information services, communication, fire and rescue equipment and fire personnel training, ATCS personnel, NCAA inspectors etc.” He 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 a revenue of over $200m from foreign airlines that are benefiting more than we do from BASA and are yet, been giving multiple landings thereby depriving our private airlines the benefit of domestic market.