The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to take immediate steps to avert an imminent shutdown of flight operations in Nigeria, warning that it will have grave consequences on the country’s national life.
The caucus was reacting to the strike notice issued to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; and the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, by the Airline Operators of Nigeria.
The AON had threatened to shut down flight operations in the country from Monday, May 9, 2022, due to the unbearable high cost of aviation fuel (Jet-A1), which had risen from N190 to N700 per litre.
The notice by the AON had indicated that the intervention by the Senate and the House in the crisis occasioned by Jet-A1 scarcity and price hike had failed.
Already, the House will on Monday hold an emergency session, less than one week after it adjourned plenary till May 24, 2022, to discuss “critical issues of national importance.”
The Clerk to the House, Dr Yahaya Danzaria, announced the recall of members to the emergency session via notice issued on Saturday.
Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, in a statement issued on Saturday and titled ‘Minority Reps Tasks President Buhari to Avert Shutdown of Airline Operations,’ blamed the crisis in the aviation sector on the government of the All Progressives Congress and the regime led by Buhari.
The statement partly read, “This worrisome development in Nigeria, a major producer of oil, is another very sad commentary on the unpardonable failure, corruption, incompetence, negative policies and lack of capacity of the APC-led administration to effectively manage our national economy.
“As representatives of the people, the Minority Caucus is concerned because aviation is pivotal to the operation, sustenance and survival of other key sectors of the economy and any shutdown of flight operations will have devastating spiral effects and worsen the excruciating economic hardship and further escalate insecurity in the country.
“This is because apart from the direct disabling of thousands of aviation related jobs and ancillary businesses, a shutdown of the sector will also have grave negative impact on critical government and public sector activities which are sustained by air travelling.”
The caucus added, “It is instructive to note that the aviation sector is no longer an exclusive reserve of the elite, but plays central role in the movement of personnel and equipment that drive and sustain services and operations which benefit the masses in healthcare, manufacturing, education, food production, telecommunication, retailing, banking and finance, hospitality, entertainment, power, security and other key sectors.
“A shutdown of the aviation sector will therefore cripple millions of businesses as well as economic and commercial activities thereby increasing unemployment, worsen the economic hardship, put pressure on our already ailing roads and exacerbate insecurity in our country.
“Moreover, the situation is a huge threat to our national integrity as it erodes the confidence of the International Community and foreign investors in our country thereby encouraging the movement of investments to neigbouring countries.”
The opposition lawmakers, therefore, called on the President to “wake up, note the grave import of the situation and save the aviation sector from imminent collapse by immediately addressing the fuel crisis and other challenges in the industry.”
The caucus also asked Buhar to critically address the crisis in the petroleum industry by “reviewing the counter-productive policies and curbing the corruption in his administration so as to save our national economy from collapse under his watch.”