The Generation Next Collective (GNC), has described the controversy over the inauguration of Nigeria’s flag carrier, the Nigeria Air and the current opposition to the establishment of the national airline, by private operators, as unhealthy, selfish and unpatriotic.
GNC is a coalition of pragmatic youth and women groups, with core interest in development strategies and democratic accountability.
In a statement, the group said the national airline has faced fierce criticism and opposition, from the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), spearheaded by Dr Obiora Okonkwo, who incidentally is the founder of United Nigeria Airline, one of the privately-owned airlines operating in Nigeria.
‘‘Okonkwo and other indigenous operators have accused the former minister of aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, who initiated the establishment of Nigeria Air, of a dangerous plot to kill the entire indigenous operators and handover monopoly to Ethiopian Airlines, the major partner of the national airline.
‘‘But the GNC in a joint statement by its co – conveners, Barrister Ruth Edehemon and Malam Rufai Abdulahi PhD, in Abuja, on Thursday, said that it rather saw hope and a realistic step towards positive change in the aviation industry in Nigeria with the arrival of the Boeing 737 aircraft, branded in Nigeria’s green-white-green colours on Friday, May 26, 2023, adding that it’s bewildering to see aviation operators kick over a development that would potentially add value to the people and the economy of the nation.
“It is selfish and unpatriotic for private operators to turn themselves into an army of opposition and harbingers if negative narratives against the floating, success and sustainability of our common heritage, Nigeria Air. In fact, we have observed with dismay that Dr Obiora Okonkwo, who has been so vociferous in spreading the negative and misleading narratives about the national airline, in the guise of representing the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), is not motivated by objectivity or patriotism, but only doing so for his selfish aim of being in the driving seat of monopoly and mindless manipulation of cost of air fare in the industry.
‘‘We object to such profiteering tendencies and dark conspiracies that do not put to account, the interest of the people or the collective prosperity of the nation,’’ the statement read.