The minister of information, culture and tourism, Mr. Lai Mohammed has condemned the incidence of corruption in Nigeria saying corrupt people are the most organized group in the country.
Speaking at Q2 Breakfast Meeting of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) held in Lagos recently, Mohammed said it does not matter whether the people involved in the act are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Efik, Fulfulde, Ijaw, Birom, etc.
The minister, who was responding to the chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema’s comment that there is shortage of integrity in getting air operator certificate (AOC) and doing business in the aviation industry, declared that it was corruption that robbed him of the same document when he wanted to set up an airline in the 1990s.
Onyema had stated that his airline had fulfilled all the necessary conditions to get the AOC but was denied until some “good” Nigerians in the aviation industry intervened.
“It is not unusual for the mediocre to find his way to the top. They denied me AOC in 1998 even though I served in the aviation industry for 10 years. Even the people I met who were still in the system after I left service could not help me. In fact, they were even the most difficult to relate with,” said Mohammed.
However, the minister said the government was doing its utmost to reverse the trend by issuing a presidential directive on the on the Ease of Doing Business.
He said the directive had been successful so far but that people attest mostly to the ease of getting Nigerian visas because it is the most visibly.
“I think why people are talking about the visa on arrival I think it’s because it is the one they can see physically and they go through every day but clearly the executive order goes beyond visas on arrival.”
“It also has to do with incorporating businesses and today we can dispense with a lot of bureaucracy that we used to have, that hindered fast registration of businesses. Even airport upgrading is part of the Ease of Doing Business and at the same time it encompasses what is going on at the ports today. Our goal is to enable anybody to clear goods within 24 hours,” he said.
The minister said the government had not taken as an excuse for non-performance the fact that it inherited a bad economy.
“We were elected to fix what we felt was wrong. The government has come, seen the problems and is courageous enough to fix them,” he said.
He acknowledged that there were lots of challenges in capacity building, regulatory framework and policy making decisions as they concern the aviation industry.
He said people who invest in the economy would want to get return on their investment.
Thereafter, the minister said tourism is not a standalone stressing that it needs the other sectors to survive.
“Tourism is not a standalone industry .Other sectors such as aviation, interior and foreign affairs are key to tourism. If people cannot obtain your visa and travel to your country, there is no way tourism will survive. That is the reason the federal government introduced the ease of doing business at airports and sea ports, which is beginning to yield positive results,” he added.