The Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has lauded the suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari of move to re-establish a national carrier.
He said it would have been a contradiction for the Federal Government to make an investment in the airline at a time it was divesting its 12.4 billion shares in the Nigerian Security and Minting Company to enable the firm become more efficient and effective in its operations.
He said that the failure of the proposed airline should not make the nation gloss over the need for a flag carrier but should rather make the nation work towards promoting an already existing airline in the country that would turn out to be the pride of all Nigerians.
Obiano, whose All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) stood with him as candidate defeated Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last governorship election in Anambra State, urged the Federal Government to make an existing airline, Air Peace, which is Nigeria’s biggest airline, the Nigerian flag carrier.
In a statement signed on his behalf by the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, the governor explained that Air Peace has a larger fleet than the other indigenous airlines put together.
He recalled that in February this year, the airline was the first indigenous carrier to acquire the wide-body 777-200 plane for its international operations, which would start in the last quarter of 2018.
The statement reads in part, “Apart from its 100% safety record, its ground and in-flight services are comparable to what passengers get from such world class airlines as British Airways, Delta Airline, Ethiopian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Emirates, Northwest, KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, etc.
“There is no reason not to make Air Peace Nigeria’s flag carrier immediately because of thousands of jobs, economic and business opportunities it has created in the aviation value chain since 2013 when it was established,” Obiano said.
“Contrary to the thinking of some people, a flag carrier does not have to be owned or promoted by the government.”
While citing the example of the privately- owned British Airways, which serves as the UK flag carrier, Obiano expressed confidence that at the rate Air Peace was growing, it would give global airlines in Nigeria a good run for their money earlier than most people would imagine.
He observed that most African leaders, who think that policy review is a mark of weakness, even when the policy is asphyxiating saying that Buhari administration did not allow ego becloud its sense of judgment.
The statement added, “The president behaved like what academic researchers would call an authentic leader humble enough to admit policy deficiencies and even personal errors.
“The president was not held hostage by the fact that the government had launched the new carrier’s livery and logo with fanfare in London in July, or by the consideration that a reasonable amount of money has been spent on feasibility studies and the road show in London.
“Such expenses belong to what accountants know as sunk or spent funds and it is not advisable to proceed with a project that cannot work, simply because the government wants to recover funds already spent on it”.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had recently announced suspension of planned national carrier unveiled as Air Nigeria and gave reason.