Some people are born in the labour room of pessimism, they doubt even the air they breathe, they are perpetually on the wagon of cynicism. When Hadi Sirika, Nigerian Aviation Minister, promised to reconstruct the Abuja airport runway, they doubted him. Not a man defined by the tantrums of naysayers, he didn’t only fulfill his promise; he raised the bar of project implementation. In six weeks, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport had a reconstructed runway after 21 years of planes taxing on expired runway! Defying every odd, he announced the launch of a national carrier with a take-off flight for December 2018. Expectedly, those born in the labour room of pessimism and nurtured in the home of doubt, rolled out their drums of mischief swearing to high heavens, with some invoking ‘amadioha’ fused in the thunderous potency of ‘sango’ that the project will never succeed. According to them, Nigeria should not be counted amongst nations to own a national carrier. Different watery logic reached as needless posers filled the air. The resistance was so constricted that a former education minister, who piloted the end of Nigeria’s public schools, went virally ballistic, fuming in aghast. As a notorious advocate of privatisation, she almost sold Nigeria’s unity schools. That she is at the forefront of mobilising dissents to shutdown Sirika’s flight of national pride, is to say the least that in this clime, some people are defined by the prejudice of self-entitlement that whatever they say should be sacrosanct. Common sense must prevail over popular mischief in this case. That we have failed in managing our national assets before, is not an excuse not to own one. The thinking of the past must not be a reference compass for future aspirations.
This new baby, called in midflight, must not be shut down by the arrows of pessimism. The decision to have the government invest a paltry five per cent equity is the best decision in modern governance. The remaining 95 per cent stake would be handled by private hands, who understand the rudiments of real business. It is a lamentable reality that Nigeria has no cap on overseas ownership of its airlines and would be prepared to offer more than 50 per cent of the company — named Nigeria Air — to a strategic ally, and Tilmann Gabriel, who is helping to coordinate the project, is the man. He is far away from the influence of the ‘Nigerian Factor’. Government, they say, has no business in managing business but it has a responsibility in ensuring veritable environment exists for business. The Sirika audacity, is one to be encouraged and not to be lampooned. Those who dare the impossible are true leaders in time of despair. The monkey became an expert jumper by dwarfing the fear of height. The constricted fears nursed in some quarters must not be allowed to bring down the efforts to have our own national carrier called Nigeria Air. By tiptoeing, the child became an expert runner.
Come December, on the sky of Nigeria, across the cloud of Africa, a metal bird with a beautiful tail design of a strong eagle-like swirl, in rich agricultural green and snowy white, will adore the airspace with huge passengers to fly in because Nigeria is in dire huge need of a national airline. The pride of a national airline is a deep push of a dwindling patriotism that has confronted Nigerians, like football, this is a huge integrating domain. With a fleet of 30 aircraft and operating in 80 routes, half of them international, within four years, no better way to burnish the image of a nation battered by the evil trinity of religion, ethnicity, and politics. This is our time to join in the global circle of impact in aviation ventures. Nigerian Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika’s ingenuity to engage with the chiefs of Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, Africa’s biggest carrier, and Qatar Airways, which holds a stake in British Airways, owner of IAG SA, as against the assemblage of domestic aviation experts, who may be influenced by the spirits of cynicism, is a booster to the seriousness of this project. I challenge those desktop experts to question the credentials of Ethiopian Air Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde Gebre Mariam, whose company serves about 70 global cities and 60 across Africa from its hub in Addis Ababa. It already owns stakes in carriers in Malawi and Togo and is seeking to establish holdings in Zambia, Chad, Mozambique, Guinea, and Eritrea, while helping to manage existing operators in Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. ‘Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly a plane across the Atlantic, from New York to Paris (nonstop) in 33 hours, 30 minutes, made a statement when asked by the press after the feat. He said, “At a point, I contemplated going back, but when I checked the fuel gauge, I realised the remaining fuel could only take me across, not back, so I continued.” Therefore, having ventured into this ‘dangerous flight’, the right-thinking members of the public must rally round Mr Hadi Sirika to sustain this audacious flight- it is more dangerous to go back on this takeoff.