The chairman of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd (BASL), Dr. Wale Babalakin has lashed out at the federal government for not providing a template for the aviation industry for over 40 years.
Speaking on the topic ‘Investment operations and profitable earnings for economic growth’ at the Q2 breakfast meeting of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) held in Lagos, Babalakin said for more than 40 years, the authorities have been making promises without fulfilling them.
“I am not sure there is any component of an aircraft that is manufactured in Nigeria and certified. We import everything including the aviation fuel and we are exporting crude oil,” he said.
Babalakin said aviation can be a catalyst for economic growth but doubted if the authorities are keen to make it happen.
“If we are, I’m concerned whether we have the skill internally. Many airlines have some and gone, some were celebrated, some were not. Have we researched thoroughly the reasons for their demise? I used to hear a blanket reason that it was the military governments that contributed to their death. But the civilians were the engine room of the military regimes. They were the aviators who did not do the right thing. The military, in active collaboration with the civilians and active collaborators in the aviation industry destroyed the industry.
“I have seen 11 ministers of aviation with various ideas swinging from left to middle to right and subjecting the participants to the vagaries of their thoughts. I look forward to a big aviation industry in Nigerian but I don’t see the template anywhere,” he said.
Babalakin said BASL had operated the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 and blamed the government for not honouring agreements.
We have run MMA2 for 11 years without experiencing any blackout but we have collected only 5 per cent of revenue of an international airport. If such things were promoted, we would have solved a lot of problems.
In every public-private partnership project, it is 75 per cent thinking and 25 per cent implementation. But a government that does not honour its own agreement cannot be taken seriously by an outsider. We have to find a way at negotiation stages the best minds of government and agreements must be obeyed,” he added.
In his reaction, the minister of information, culture and tourism, Mr. Lai Mohammed acknowledged that “there are lots of challenges in the area of regulatory framework and policy making decisions.”
He added: “If you don’t obey your own agreements, you will be sending wrong signals not only to your local community but also to the international community. People come here to invest because they want returns on their investment.”
Mohammed assured that the federal government had embarked on reforms on the ease of doing business at the airports adding that no government can do without growing its infrastructure.
“If every government does the basic things and refused to be distracted, it will be able to lay a solid foundation which nobody can rubbish,” he said.