Sunday May 8, 2022
The pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has described the planned suspension of domestic flight in Nigeria by members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) as another indication that the country is being paralysed.
In a release signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere observed that the last minute appeal made by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to AON members not to carry out their threat, “is typical of this administration to wait until a matter has gotten to a head before it acknowledges the imminent danger”.
“From all indications, this administration is overwhelmed. While its commitment to the 2023 elections goes on, it should set the machinery in motion for the Restructuring of the country immediately ‘if it truly desires a permanent and genuine solution to the myriad of problems confronting this country”.
It would be recalled that on Saturday, May 7, 2022, the Minister, through his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Mr. James Odaudu, said that his attention had just been drawn to AON groan. But typical of many officials under this administration, the Minister not only assured Nigerians that Buhari administration is committed to the creation and sustenance of enabling environment (for the aviation industry), he said that the solution to the problem faced by airline operators is not within the purvey of his Ministry. He stated that ‘the much’ his Ministry “can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions, and individuals in positions to provide succor to the airlines.” For effect, he added that “This is already being done by the relevant team led by the Honourable Minister”.
According to Afenifere spokesman, the Ministry in question is for Aviation. The problem at hand is squarely that of aviation. To which other institutions is the Minister then passing the buck? The agencies etc. referred to by the Minister such as the NNPC and Ministry of Petroleum belong to the same government under which Sirika is serving. Why shouldn’t have been a workable solution to the problem before it got to the point that operators have to close shop?
“The Minister added that his team has already been working on finding a solution to the problem. If the team has been working and yet a solution has not been found since the beginning of the year when the airline operators have been sounding notes of warning, how are we sure that the team will find a solution when the situation is now even more critical in view of non-availability of the needed Jet A1 airline fuel locally and the escalating war between Russia and Ukraine to which the government may want to mischievously attribute the fuel problem”.
“According to the President of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, the Jet A1 fuel was N190 per litre earlier this year. It moved progressively to over N300, to N400 and now to about N700 per litre. At various moments, the operators have been calling on the government to deal with the situation. But as usual, the relevant government organs continued to live in denial. This attitude is common with this government in virtually all aspects that have to do with the welfare and well-being of Nigerians.
It is on record for instance that the Ministers of Education, Adamu Adamu and that of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige had, at various times, stated that they were not aware of the grouse of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Considering the fact the two gentlemen had university education respectively and have been in the country in the last 20 years at least, is it not a height of irresponsibility to make that kind of claim? Little wonder that this government has not considered the problem in that sector of education as serious. Serious enough to deserve attention.
On the same Saturday, May 7th, the National Electricity Regulation Agency justified the new increase in tariff being paid by hapless Nigerians by saying that approval for it had been given to Distribution Companies since the end of last year. Which engender the question: Whose interest is the government serving, that of the distribution companies or that of Nigerians?
So, to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, it does not matter if Nigerians who used to pay about N25,000 for an hour flight now have to pay about N120,000. It does not matter to it, if Nigerians who used to pay N2,500 for a 6 kg of gas now have to pay as much as N6,000 and if an electricity consumer now have to pay over seven per cent more on each unit of electricity he or she consumes.
Just as it does seem to matter to the present administration if Nigerian students stay away from their tertiary institutions till the end of its term.
Ajayi posited that the problems in Nigeria kept degenerating because most Nigerians kept living in denial as typified by our attitude to those who are fighting to salvage our education sector. Airline operators too have been passing the higher cost on their passengers until they realized that the fare is becoming so high that fewer passengers would be able to afford to buy tickets. Invariably, the drop in patronage will lead to clear shortage. They have been patching things up until they were literally pushed to the wall.
It would be wrong to consider the suspension of flight operation as affecting only the elites. For, the activities of the elite rub off on the general populace ultimately. The suspension of airline operation at a time when travelling by rail and by road is increasingly risky, “is a clear indication of how those in charge are paralyzing Nigeria”.
The earlier we see the situation as such, the better. And the earlier those at the helm of affairs admit their limitation and embrace a genuine solution, the better for everyone. The country would be better served if the government sees this as a wake-up call to ensure that we resume the refining of our crude oil locally and we face the reality rather than living in denial”, Ajayi concluded.