Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for suspending the establishment of Nigeria Air.
Obiano gave the commendation in a statement signed by Mr C-Don Adinuba, the state Commissioner for Information and Enlightenment, and made available to journalists on Thursday in Awka.
The governor described the action as `courageous’, noting that Buhari’s administration did not allow ego to get in the way of its suspension of the proposed carrier.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, recently announced that Buhari had approved the suspension of Nigeria Air project, but failed to disclose reason for the action.
“Buhari did not behave like most African leaders who think that policy review is a mark of weakness even when the policy is asphyxiating.
“Buhari rather behaved like what academic researchers would call an authentic leader, that is, a leader humble enough to admit policy deficiencies and even personal errors,” he said.
The governor observed that Buhari was not discouraged in making the decision by the fact that government had launched the proposed new carrier’s livery and logo with fanfare in London in July.
He said that such expenses belonged to what accountants knew as sunk or spent funds.
Obiano added that it was not advisable to proceed with a project or programme that could not work simply because government wanted to recover funds already spent on it.
“It would have been a contradiction to make an investment in the airline at a time government is divesting its 12.4 billion shares in the Nigerian Security and Minting Company.
“The failure of the proposed airline should not make the nation gloss over the need for a flag carrier.
“It should rather make us look inward and promote an airline which would be the pride of all Nigerians,” he said.
The governor urged the Federal Government to make Air Peace, which he said was Nigeria’s biggest airline, the Nigerian flag carrier.
“Air Peace has a larger fleet than the other indigenous airlines put together’’, the governor noted’’.
Obiano said that Air Peace was not just the fastest growing airline in Nigeria’s history but the most professionally managed.
“Apart from its 100 per cent safety record, its ground and in-flight services are comparable to what passengers get from such world class airlines as British Airways, Delta Airline and Ethiopian Airline,’’ he added.
The governor said contrary to the thinking of some people, a flag carrier did not have to be owned or promoted by government.
Obiano expressed confidence that at the rate Air Peace was growing, it would give global airlines in Nigeria a good run for their money earlier than most people seemed to realise.