Those always calling for the appointment of an aviator as a substantive minister of aviation whenever a new government is coming on board, may need to have a rethink in the coming dispensation.
It is no longer news that in less than 14 days a new government will be coming to replace the government of President Muhammadu Buhari whose eight years mandate will come to an end on May 29, 2023.
As expected, every other critical appointees including the ministers brought about by the expiring government must leave with it to pave the way for the full take over of the governance of the country under a new set of people.
Under this circumstance, different interest groups as expected must have started flaunting the names of those they feel should be appointed as ministers to oversee major sectors of the country’s economy including aviation.
These interest groups based on previous experiences make case for their preferred candidates for different reasons ranging from what they call ability to carry on with the works of the outgoing minister, someone well grounded on issues concerning the sector, hence, someone familiar with the terrain or someone who has aviation background popularly referred to as a technocrat, among many other reasons which to an extent may be valid.
It is on this premise that whenever a new sheriff is coming, the various groups in the aviation sector like their counterparts in other sectors roll out their drum sets to drum support for an aviator to be appointed as the minister.
The argument by this group is often woven around the facts that in view of the highly regulated nature of the sector and the critical role it plays in the business of seamless movements of humans and cargoes through the air transportation mode that is based on international recommended and standards best practices, the sector requires a technocrat who is not only familiar with the terrain, but can easily understand the language of aviation.
Unfortunately, as good as the notion is, the experiences that have played out in the last eight years have pointed to the fact that this position is no longer sellable in view of the abysmal performance of the outgoing minister, who coincidentally is a pilot.
The usual craze for a technocrat to be appointed as minister of aviation as good as it looks, should henceforth not be used as the yardstick for appointing the next minister in view of the barrage of mess the outgoing minister has dragged the sector into through his unpopular policies.
The appointment of the outgoing minister which ordinarily should have been a blessing to the sector has ended up being the sector’s greatest undoing in view of the obvious chaos and confusion most of his policies created which may take the sector years to recover from.
In his eight years, Sirika single handedly ran the affairs of the sector without the constituted board of directors for the agencies which can be attributed to the present barrage of challenges bedeviling the sector.
Under his tenure, most of the agenda he lined up to execute which would have help reposition the sector failed to materialize based on the minister’s poor packaging laced with arrogance and disregard for team management.
It is on record that the outgoing minister ran the affairs of the sector like a personal enterprise by ignoring inputs from the different professionals and even the unions for is eight years in office.
The peak of these illegalities is his refusal to yield to the clarion calls from key players within and outside the sector to inaugurate the board of directors who would have served as a check and balance on all his policies.
Following the unpleasant accumulated effects of his policies which rather than move the sector forward, has on the contrary dragged it backward, key players needed not being told that the minister deliberately sidelined the boards to enable him have the total control over the entire sector unchallenged.
Unknown to him, his refusal to inaugurate the boards is responsible for the hatred and anger he has attracted to himself even up to the twilight of his tenure as witnessed in the crisis his actions have continued to generate among all stakeholders in the sector.
Even when he has less than two weeks to go, the body language of the minister still continues to pitch him against the unions in particular over his failure to at least if not total resolve some of the workers’ welfare issues which he has stylishly pushed to the permanent secretary in the ministry to handle even when it is obvious that such issues can only be resolved by the coming government.
Sirika who initially started very well but got distracted along the way is, sadly leaving when the ovation for him has gone down so low even as the spillover effects of his actions still continue to generate tension with the latest being the threat from the unions to embark on a total industrial action come May 22nd.
The unions who will from May 15th begin the mobilization of aviation workers natioeide towards the shutdown of activities across the airports should the ministry and relevant government organs responsible for addressing the workers welfare issues fail come May 22nd, may continue with the action until a new government takes over.
In other words, the outgoing minister has succeeded in creating problems for the incoming government through his poor packaging of policies for eight years.
The victim of his undoings is obviously the next minister who is coming at a time the entire sector is struggling to survive from eight years of crisis which may cause serious distraction to the incoming minister.
It is however sad that the many crisis ranging from multiple litigations, anti-Labour/workers’ crisis,one sided style of employments that lacked the six geo-political spread, to hostile business environment that have all lowered the morales of stakeholders have all been traced to an aviator, a situation which may play up against the appointment of an aviator as the incoming government scouts around for another minister.
The prayer on the lips of many in the sector is that God s
Would guide the incoming government to appoint a minister who will not see himself or herself as the perfect master coming to play the game of ‘the winner takes it all’, but a minister who will not only carry at least the majority key players along.
While wishing the outgoing minister well in his future endeavours, the questions on the lips of key players include if the Minister thinks he is leaving the sector better than he met it. The answers to this is blowing in the wind.