CHAIRMAN, United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), High Chief Obiora Okonkwo is advocating a policy review in Nigeria that would take into account all the modes and their differences and synergize them to create a more integrated transportation system.
He made the call in an address he delivered at the 9th Annual Nigeria Transport Lecture where he charged the federal government to build a symbiotic relationship between the Ministries of Aviation, Transportation and Works to fast track economic development of the country.
The Lecture which was themed: “Nigeria’s transportation for development” which held last Thursday at the Yar’Adua Conference Center in Abuja, was hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation, attracted top government functionaries and critical stakeholders in the transport sector of the economy.
The United chairman and Chief Executive Officer who was represented by UNA’s Director of Administration Mr. Linus Awute, said there was the need to redraw transportation policies of the country in order to integrate all facets of transportation to take advantage of their inter-relatedness for economic development.
Noting that transportation is the “livewire” of every economy, Awute, who retired from the Civil Service of the Federation as Permanent Secretary, said “there is a clarion call for an integrated policy review that will be made participatory, involving not only ministry of transportation, ministry of aviation and ministry of works, but the critical stakeholders and development partners alike, if possible with a dedicated funding arrangement, to be able to increase the mileage and sustain the tempo which the outgoing minister of aviation has generated in the sector.”
This, he said, has become necessary because “all the frontiers of transportation in Nigeria are heavy laden with monumental challenges, requiring too much to do in order to redeem the sector.”
Awute, who also acknowledged the efforts the Transportation Minister and his counterpart at the Aviation Ministry, Senator. Hadi Sirika, are making in order to boost infrastructural developments in the sector, stated however, that “transportation, whether by road, air or sea, share a symbiotic relationship with economic development. It follows therefore that an efficient transportation system facilitates National and Regional Economic Development. It is also established that efficient transportation system is one of the basic requirements for the security of any nation and, in fact, the live-wire and soul of trade, commerce and industry anywhere.”
According to him, “the ongoing efforts of government in the last few years, as championed by the Ministry of Transportation, have been very encouraging and commendable. We still believe that the ministry can enjoy a quantum leap forward if there is a deliberate cohesion and synergy between the Transportation Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Works, particularly on issues pertaining to road and highway infrastructure development. This is not to wish away the required synergy between the transportation ministry with the Air Transport Department of the Federal Ministry of Aviation.”
“It therefore stands to reason that we have more to do as a nation in developing a consistent principle and inbuilt sustainable security mechanism upon which to anchor the thriving efforts of government through the widening of the scope of infrastructure and upgrading of the standards of our existing infrastructural environment”, he stated.
While calling on the conference to develop “a communiqué that spells out the actionable points for each actor in the transportation sector”, Awute said operators and critical stakeholders in the sector “should be ready to examine ourselves on why we still have not achieved an overall equivalence with our contemporaries on the issues of development.”
He further stated that experience from the operations of United Nigeria Airlines, indicate that most of the issues associated with air travel in Nigeria are policy related.
He said: “We recognize also that the key challenge for achieving efficiency in this sector are related to human errors and weaknesses in decision making, including the unpredictability of national policy environment.
“From what we have learned, in more than one year as operators of air transportation, I am inclined and authorized to observe as well as state on behalf of my CEO that, “deliberate government investment, policy and operating decision regarding highways, waterways, and airports, through a concerted approach, can significantly develop transportation and improve the economy of Nigeria astronomically”, Awute added.