It’s time for us to engage

In the Aviation Sector, the most trending news is all about the proposed new national carrier, “Nigeria Air” recently unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show by the Minister of State for Transport (Aviation), Senator Hadi Sirika. The extent of discussions and reportage remains unequaled in the annals of the history of the industry. More critically is the number of high standing professionals in aviation and other sectors who have expressed their views on Nigeria Air. These include: Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Bismark Rewane, Capt. Nogie Meggison, Capt. Roland Iyayi, John Ojikutu and Nick Fadugba.NigeriaAirWe have also had comments from Mr. Chike-Obi and journalists like Sonala Olumense. All these are people who should be taken very seriously, among many others, when they ventilate on serious national matters by virtue of either their personal standing, professional success, the positions they hold or have held or the group they represent. I have chosen the above commentators out of the numerous others, for the reason, inter alia, that their views aggregate most of the others. I will therefore identify and engage their various positions, not necessarily as a final rebuttal as in Zik’s “Civil-Military Diarchy”, but rather, to extend the frontiers of discourse on this critical national issue. “NIGERIA AIR MUST FAIL”: This affirmative position was advanced by one of Nigeria’s outstanding citizens – Dr. Oby Ezekwesili whose incisive insights and analytical strength are usually magnetic. Having held various national and international positions, which include Headship of Bureau of Public Procurement and Minister of Education as well as Vice-President of the World Bank, the tremendous experience and exposure of Dr. Ezekwesili, who was during her years under OBJ, nicknamed “Madam Due Process”, would have been invaluable if she had said the Nigeria Air WOULD FAIL rather than MUST FAIL. This is because, unlike “MUST”, which is proclamation of a mere wish, “WOULD”, would have provided reasons why Nigeria Air would fail. This would have educated us a lot, more so when one remembers that Dr. Ezekwesili’s service under OBJ spanned the period when five attempts at the floatation of a National Carrier (IFC’s Privatization of Nigeria Airways, Kema Chikwe’s Air Nigeria and Nigeria Global, Isa Yuguda’s Nigerian Eagle and OBJ’s disaster called Virgin Nigeria) all failed. But since we don’t have her usual insight, I find no basis to engage her “MUST FAIL” wish. To attempt to do so will either end in illicit deductions and imputation of improper motives or improper imputation of motives which are fundamental flaws in public discourse and logic. Secondly, even in THISDAY report of her interview on AIT, which unfortunately I didn’t watch, she was reported to have opined that the government’s plan to invest US$300million to kick start Nigeria Air is a waste of public funds. She looked at the opportunity cost of such an investment vis-à-vis other sectors of “higher” priority such as education, health and others. Dr. Ezekwesili, as reported, further went ahead to say that, based on her experience at the World Bank, “if the government wanted ‘Nigeria Air’ to be private sector-driven as it claimed, the design of the Project would have been made in a way that the investors would have provided start-up fund for the airline.

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