By Adebayo Adeniyi
Festus Keyamo is a known name in Nigeria, a vocal voice on national issues, even before his foray into politics. I recall I had reservations when he veered into politics as a minister under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. Initially, it was a bumpy ride. At first, he was Minister of State, Niger Delta, and barely a month, he was redeployed to the Ministry of Labour and Productivity. That move was a reflection of his personality. He was not going to lay low; he was going to speak. I guessed former President Muhammadu Buhari was not ready for the drama that would have ensued.
The above is history, as he is the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development in this dispensation. There is something about Festus Keyamo. Everything revolves around his personality, one that is not afraid to speak or take the bull by its horns. His appointment as the aviation and aerospace development minister could not have come at a better time.
We must agree that the aviation sector in Nigeria needs to be fixed. The rot has gone on for several years and under successive governments. The sector was held by the jugular by some vested interests, and it needed a strong voice and personality to confront the cabal and turn things around. This much he has started.
There would be hullabaloo on some of his moves, but it doesn’t take away that he is a man on a mission. Some policy statements from the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development have been positive. It is more of cleaning the Augean stable. Some have asked if Festus Keyamo can sustain the tempo without getting consumed. And I asked in return, consumed by who and what?
I don’t see that happening. The chances are very slim. You would understand my position if you are conversant with his history. His beliefs are fierce as long as they resonate with the collective. For example, the suspension of the Nigeria Air project. His position was simple: “It would be “irresponsible “of the Federal Government to follow through on a deal that gives monopoly of Nigeria’s aviation industry to a foreign entity.”
That is how a leader should act, so long it is in the best interest of the collective. More actions have been taken that are outside the public space. That is why I call him the man with the Midas touch. Anything he touches turns to gold. You don’t have to agree with this position, but it is what it is. This is what is needed to turn things around in that sector.
One such move is the overhaul of the leadership of agencies in the aviation sector. Did you take the time to look at the quality of the appointments? It was a list of experts with tangible track records. The quality of these appointments would address some of the issues that have held the sector down.
It was a strategic move because all the directors in the agencies were replaced and assigned with sound minds that would hit the ground running. Even though it might seem early to give him a pass mark, all’s well that ends well. This is the story of Fetus Keyamo in his quest to turn around the critical aviation sector. Some of his decisions might be harsh, especially when options are limited. What options do we have to revamp the aviation sector? The only option is to take the bull by the horns, which he has done so far.
You don’t have to like his face. I wonder if he even notices it. He does not need any individual validation. He knows his onions and has displayed an unalloyed commitment in this regard. This much the President recognized before his appointment. Remember that at some point, the President noted that Keyamo’s life is hallmarked by service to the country and his people. What other validation could he ask for?
That is what is needed to turn things around in the country. We need Nigerians with the guts and the sincerity of heart and purpose. Let’s make no mistakes; addressing the challenges in Nigeria requires a tough stance and decisions, and I am glad Fetus Keyamo has started on this note.
The aviation sector is pivotal to national and global economies, creating job opportunities and stimulating economic activity. Nigeria can’t be left out. Festus Keyamo’s stance is not vendetta. It is putting issues in the proper perspective in the country’s interest.
Undoubtedly, Festus Keyamo has taken the bull by the horns. The prospects in aviation are enormous. The right man is at the helm of affairs. He is primed to lead and address the challenges in the sector. He has the confidence of the President and key stakeholders in the aviation sector. It is expected that discerning stakeholders in the industry should join hands with him to re-position the aviation sector for optimal productivity.
He has the Midas touch, and the aviation sector would boom. The indices are rife, thanks to the dexterity of the Honourable Minister for Aviation and Aerospace Development.
Adeniyi is a public affairs analyst based in Lagos.