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Nigeria needs a national carrier that would display her flag – Jakande

A former governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, on Tuesday expressed support for the Federal Government plans to establish a new national carrier. This came as the Senate yesterday denied the report that it has suspended the proposal to make Eagle Airline the national carrier, saying it has no such report before it.

Jakande conveyed his support, while speaking with aviation correspondents shortly after presenting a book entitled: “The Big Conspiracy: The Travails of a Progressive Safety Regulator in a Not-So-Progressive Aviation Industry’’.

The book written by Mrs Folasade Odutola, an aeronautical engineer and former Rector, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).

Jakande said: “Nigeria needs a national carrier that would display her flag across the world like the liquidated Nigeria Airways in its days.’’

He said that the new carrier, when operational, should be strengthened to compete with other international airlines.

Jakande also underscored the need to engage seasoned professionals in the aviation sector for the day-to-day administration of the airline.

The ex-governor, however, condemned a proposal of the House of Representatives to pass a bill that would grant members immunity and allow them to open foreign accounts.

He said that if such bill was passed by the lawmakers, it would encourage corruption.

“Such rights would not benefit the country, it would be a step taken in the wrong direction in the nation’s fight against corruption,’’ he said.

However, the book’s author, Odutola, urged FG not to establish another national carrier.

She urged the government to strengthen existing domestic airlines, instead of channelling available scarce resources toward the establishment of a new airline.

Odutola, however, said that some of the indigenous airlines could be designated as flag carriers, while assigning specific international routes to them.

The Senate yesterday denied the report that it has suspended the proposal to make Eagle Airline the national carrier, saying it has no such report before it.

There were reports in some section of the media that the Senate Committee on Aviation had, on Monday, suspended the decision to make the airline as the national carrier.

But Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Hope Uzodinma, Imo West while speaking with newsmen in Abuja, said his committee was not aware of such a proposal.


Senator Uzodinma who said the matter had not been brought before the aviation committee, pointed out that the issue would be dealt with if it was eventually brought before the committee.

He however said it was possible that some lawmakers may have had individually spoken with some newsmen on the proposed national carrier.

According to him, “I don’t know where you got that report because the matter is not before us yet. But if, in the course of our oversight programme, we come across that we will deal with that properly.

“It is not before us and whosoever speaks on it did that as an individual; not as a position of the committee which I chair”, he said.

Uzodinma also said the Senate Aviation Committee was acting within the ambit of the constitution by advising the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to suspend the recent charges it imposed on local and foreign registered private airline operators, on non-scheduled flights in the country.

Said he, “I don’t want to deal on insinuations. As you know, we have our oversight responsibilities and role to play in the discharge of our duties.

“The issues of government is one entity that has three arms or three legs-the legislature, executive and the judiciary.

“Here in the legislature, we have the responsibility of looking, oversighting what the executive are doing; whether they are fully in compliant with the law made by us or not; how government revenues are managed and spent, how money appropriated for government projects are also utilized.

“So it is in keeping with that mandate of the constitution that we have advised, through our legislative instruments, to get NAMA to do the proper thing.

“There is no doubt NAMA have the right to levy charges over these operators but the constitution, the Act that establish that powers, also made it mandatory for NAMA to do that only in consultation with the critical stakeholders, that is, the operators.

“In this case, we did not see evidence that the stakeholders were properly consulted and the required level of consensus that was supposed to be built before such charges are fixed was not also complied with.

“Therefore, in keeping with the mandate we have as oversight functions, I advised NAMA to stay hold and ensure that the consultation is done.

“Not only they will be seen to have complied with the provisions of the law, they would have also done that which is just and proper for harmony to come back into the industry”, he said.

Uzodinma further said NAMA would, in the interest of the nation, not go against that which was logical and would not want to deliberately violate the law.

Source - Vanguard News

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