By Prince Okafor
A former General Manager with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Abubakar Bibi, has praised the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo over his recent activities in the Ministry.
Bibi, also a former Airport Manager for Ilorin International Airport, Sokoto, Gombe and Makurdi Airports before he retired in 2018, said the suspension of the Nigeria Air project and airport concession was a welcome development.
In a chat with newsmen at the weekend, Bibi said with the way Keyamo started, he had raised the hope of stakeholders that there is a breath of fresh air.
Keyamo had on his first visit to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos announced plans to shut down the old terminal of the airport in addition to suspending Nigeria Air and airport concession, two major projects in the aviation roadmap of the immediate past administration.
The Minister had also set up a committee headed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry to explore ways of expanding the FAAN revenue sources.
The ex-FAAN boss however said the Minister’s appointment to oversee the industry was a welcome development, describing Keyamo as a technocrat with a track record of excellence in his previous assignments.
He said he was particularly thrilled by Keyamo’s recognition of the strategic importance of Lagos Airport to FAAN as the airport generating 70 percent of FAAN revenues.
He noted that this has justified his recent call for the return of FAAN headquarters to Lagos.
He said, “Like I once mentioned FAAN has no business being in Abuja. The Minister also mentioned it that 60 percent of FAAN revenue is coming from Lagos. Lagos is where they generate the bulk of the revenues and I think it is just normal to have the management here to ensure that no stone is left unturned to tap all areas of revenue improvement.
“We are very happy with the Minister’s appointment and I am confident that the aviation industry would witness a facelift under his leadership.”
Bibi commended the Minister for opting to review what has transpired with the Nigeria Air project and airport concession, describing the move as a patriotic duty which would unravel what has been done wrong in the past.
“We cannot deny that aviation is in total mess over some of the activities in the past and we must be very bold and courageous to say the truth. A lot of things were not done right and we must therefore support the new Minister to correct some of the wrongdoings of the past.
“Aviation is very critical to the nation’s economic development and the goal of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is to block revenue leakages, look at major areas which can enhance the government revenues. I believe aviation is one key area which we have a lot to tap if things are done well and rightly.
“This is why I am happy with the steps Mr. Festus Keyamo has taken so far. It is indeed a new beginning and I urge every stakeholder to support the Minister to succeed in changing the face of our aviation industry for better.”
The aviation stakeholder also advised the Minister to correct the lopsided bilateral air service agreement (BASA) implementation.
“I am sure Keyamo’s administration will see Nigerian Airlines landing in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
“This is what the former Minister should have done which he didn’t do and I am sure the new Minister would take the bull by the horn to achieve it. For instance Air Peace has all it takes to fly to UK and other parts of the world. I don’t understand why the former Minister didn’t make this happen. Air Peace has the capacity and I believe with the full support of the government, the airline which is the largest in the West and Central Africa at the moment has the capacity to fly to the UK and other parts of the world under the BASA regime,” Bibi added.