Ajibola Ogunkeyede, team leader of UfitFly Limited. a travel and tours company, has advised the federal government to discard the idea of floating a national carrier on its own.
Speaking in an interview with Olayinka Agboola, who anchors Parrot Xtra Hour on Radio on Space FM Ibadan, Ogunkeyede advised the federal government to instead partner with the private sector because the business cannot be left in the hands of civil servants.
Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation, had unveiled the national carrier project at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow in London.
However, Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, said the project was suspended due to investor apathy.
“Two years ago, the federal government unveiled Nigeria’s new national carrier in London. The Air Nigeria project has, however, remained a dream with little or no hope of it becoming a reality,” Ogunkeyede said.
“It will be of great benefit to us in the tourism and travel business sector if our national carrier is in full operation but the multibillion naira investment has, in the last one year, been stalled.
“My belief is until the federal government is sincere enough to privatize or hand over the project to private investors who will prioritize the profitability aspect of the aviation business before anything meaningful can be achieved. The business cannot be left in the care of civil servants.
“The adverse effects of COVID-19 on businesses have worsened the fates of the travel business practitioners in the country and what could have given us some level of leverage is Nigeria having a national carrier.”
Explaining how he came by the concept of organising foreign tours with celebrities, Ogunkeyede said he got the inspiration from God to invite Bola Are, a gospel artiste who was popular in the ’90s and early 2000s.
“It was God that gave me the inspiration. I was sleeping and something told me to reach out to Mama Bola Are to join our then proposed tour of Israel. Mama Are did not hesitate.
“Since that time, we have been asking popular entertainment personalities to join our numerous packaged tours of foreign lands to afford those who wished to meet them to see and also travel with them.
“So far, we have taken the likes of Sir Shina Peters, Tope Alabi, Woli Agba, Lafup and several others. We have reached an agreement with Obesere and others. Our people should just watch out.”