In the history of Nigeria particularly,its aviation sector, never has there been a minister that has been this daring and disrespectful like the immediate past minister, Senator Hadi Sirika.
When he was appointed, many stakeholders in the sector expressed high confidence in him on the premise that being a pilot, that he would positively bring his aviation expertise to bear on the sector.
Not quite long, this high hope started dwindling as Sirika came out in his true colour, displaying his arrogance and obsession with power as witnessed in the manner he came to create confusion in the sector through his unpopular policies.
Gladly, Sirika’s eight solid years of shenanigans came to an end on May 29, 2023, thus, shutting the door against the seeming dark era in the history of the sector.
Throughout his eight years as the longest serving minister, Sirika did not hide the fact that because he felt he belonged to the inner caucus in the immediate past government, no one could challenge his authority as witnessed in the autocratic manner he imposed his policies on the sector.
Sirika was the only minister who held the soul of the entire sector by the jugular, ignoring the important roles of other professional bodies many of whom are even better than him in the game of aviation management.
He was the minister who single handedly ran the affairs of the sector without constituting governing boards for all the agencies under his ministry despite a superior directive from the presidency that he should do so.
Sirika was the only one who packaged the now embarrassing national carrier project with total disregard to the inputs of those who are professionals in the field of Airlines establishment.
He dribbled the entire Nigerians including the government that brought him to power to package the joker he called a national carrier, a type that could have been better packaged by an ordinary man on the street.
Despite all the obvious loopholes identified and the litigations against the national carrier, Sirika, putting on his toga of pride, went through the back door to even collude with a foreign airline of African descent to rub mud on the faces of Nigerians by packaging a foreign aircraft he presented as the much awaited national carrier, having wasted billions of public funds into it.
His decision to use a foreign carrier to deceive Nigerians with his outright disregard to the judiciary system of the country remains his greatest abuse of the little privilege God bestowed on him to serve Nigeria.
His entire tenure was enmeshed in absolute confusion and chaos with his two hands soaked in questionable policies which ended up leaving the sector in shambles.
Even when the government at the center and his fellow ministers were already handing over to their subordinates, Sirika still held on to his position as he continued to reel out orders and directives.
While others including his principal had expressed readiness to leave the stage for the new government, Sirika was still obsessed with power as witnessed in his last minute sack of some chief executives of the agencies, previous appointments without recourse to the federal character policy and the commissioning of even uncompleted projects.
The greatest disrespect coming from Sirika came on his last day in office when he announced the constitution of governing boards for the agencies, eight years after he deliberately rejected all calls for the inauguration of the same boards.
His reasons for refusing to have the boards on ground during his eight years of turbulent tenure is however no longer secret to all stakeholders both within and outside of the sector.
He got so engrossed in these illegalities without minding the negative implications on the sector particularly the spiralling effects on the incoming safery audits to be conducted on the sector by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) team.
He blocked the boards to enable him run aground the sector and he almost succeeded but for the resilience of the key players and other well meaning Nigerians.
The question on the lips of many include, ‘if he has the right to now appoint the boards for the incoming minister; does it mean the next minister is bound to inherit his unpopular policies, what makes him think that the coming minister will not have his own agenda and the criteria he will use to appoint those he will work with?.
Sirika’s last minute appointment of board members may be one of his deliberate attempts to tighten the hands of the coming minister and subsequently plant a land mine for him to fall. It is hoped that whoever is coming as the next minister will be wary of these banana peels by correcting the injustices he will be inheriting without which he may be heading towards serious crises.
Absolutely, Sirika may have gone but his actions and inactions have put the entire sector in its lowest ebb since the advent of democracy in Nigeria. His leaving the stage on May 29, 2023 is ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ and may the sector never witness another minister who will feel too big to forget that because he is representing other Nigerians he must have a listening ears.