By Matthew Denis
The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) have kicked against decision of the Federal Government to suspend indefinitely the take off of the national carrier.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who announced the suspension, said the Federal Government took the decision to suspend procurement of Nigeria Air at the Federal Executive Council meeting. Sirika didn’t give any specific reason for the suspension.
However, the Vice President of NANTA, Mr. Dagunduro Olatokunbo during a one day seminar organised by the Kwara state chapter in Ilorin on Saturday, expressed sadness over the development.
He said: ” It is quite painful because initially we made a push as a body through the effort of the National President, Mr. Bankole Bernard and after that we gave our position paper on the need for the country to have a national carrier.
“It is one of the things that is killing tourism in the country and I was privileged to be part of the meeting with the Aviation Minister and he saw the need and gave it a push and when it was launched in Farnborough International Airshow in London we were delighted.
” But we wouldn’t know why the Federal Government took the decision and for us the suspension is a setback to the industry and we are hopeful and believed that the government would have a rethink and look into it because for us to restore our national carrier is long overdue.”
Olatokunbo stressed that the country stand to gain immensely if it has its national carrier as it would be able to compete favourably with regional and foreign carriers.
He said: ” This will enable our industry to sell more and even the government will grow its Internal Generated Revenue through Gross Domestic Product.”
According to him, NANTA is the only pressure group in the downstream sector of Aviation that is pushing the Federal Government to include tourism with the aviation sector.
“We are appealing to the government to ensure that they separate Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism because without tourism, aviation will not thrive and vice versa.
” All the states should replicate the same and ensure that our potentials in each state is accessible and marketable by us the stakeholders.
” The truth be told that the era of crude oil is no more therefore the government should start shifting focus to tourism as most countries are doing same and are making huge volume of money from it. “Countries like Gambia, Kenya and South Africa are making huge volume of money from it. So it is high time the tiers of government gave ultimate priority to tourism by involving stakeholders.
On quackery, he said that the national headquarters has introduced a national identification cards that is regulated by Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) aimed at reducing fraudulent activities to minimum level.
He said, “Ours is a service industry and we want to give service with ultimate sense of professionalism by training our members to abide by the rules and regulations of the association.”