Saturday 18 August 2012

Basa Fund And The Continued Obfuscation Of Facts

By Martha Aisosa Aikherome

It has become the trade mark of paid traducers, outright mischief makers to continue to obfuscate the facts of the now famous Bilateral Air Service Agreement BASA fund.

There’s a deliberate campaign of calumny and dissemination of outright falsehood against the activities of the Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah with regard to the utilization of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) fund by the Federal Ministry of Aviation. Some versions of the mischievous publications quote non-existent figures of the BASA fund in the region of hundreds of millions in US Dollars allegedly missing or utilized without approval and due process certification from the relevant authorities.

According to sources at the Ministry to be sure, the entire sum in the BASA fund stands at $74million dollars. Out of this, former Aviation Minister, Mrs Fedelia Akuabuta Njeze sought and obtained approval from the Presidency and the National Assembly for the utilization of $60million (about N7.5 billion) from the fund for the rehabilitation of infrastructure at the nation’s airports in line with the Civil Aviation Act 2006. It must however be noted that this sum could not be accessed before the end of her stewardship.

Worried by the scale of infrastructure deficit at the nation’s airports, the current Aviation Minister initiated fresh processes to access the already approved $60miilion from the BASA fund to form part of the resources required to execute the Remodeling of 11 airports across the country in the first phase.

Like her predecessor, all relevant approval from the Presidency and the National Assembly were obtained to access and utilize the fund to address the huge infrastructure challenge in the sector. So nothing could be farther from the truth; and it indeed smacks of sheer mischief to insinuate that the fund had been accessed and utilized without following due process. Reconstruction work at the 11 airports is over 90 per cent completed and will be due for commissioning soon.

It bears mentioning at this point that stashing BASA fund in the banks when critical infrastructure challenges require immediate and urgent redress serves no one any useful purpose, not the nation’s aviation sector; to be sure! It will even amount to official irresponsibility and abdication of leadership when considered against the backdrop that BASA fund, according to the 2006 Civil Aviation Act is intended to be deployed for the development of infrastructure and civil aviation in the country.

We wish to advise all those who have made it a career to write frivolous petitions against the present minister of aviation in the hope of distracting her from vigorously pursuing the wholesale transformation of the sector to give up this trade as the minister remains focused in re-writing the history of the aviation sector in Nigeria.

It is equally trite to caution journalists to take extra care in entertaining all manner of petitions from this clan of professional petition writers thereby according them underserved and undue publicity; and in the process unwittingly tarnish their hard-won professional integrity.

It is in line with the desire to bring about the needed development to this all important sector that the Aviation Industry the world over is a multi-billion dollar industry; as such it is imperative that the Nigerian aviation industry attracts the right global players. The Federal Ministry of Aviation and some of her agencies have embarked on the first phase of a long planned international investment road show this past weekend. The trip takes the team to China, the United States and Canada.

This investment road show is a key element of the Ministry’s Roadmap for the transformation of the country’s Air Transport Industry. The Roadmap was put in place and presented for approval by Mr President in November 2012, to set a clear agenda and offer strategic markers and guidelines for the steps to be taken.

Nigerian aviation sector and the multitude of passengers and other stakeholders deserve the best from the critical sector of air travel


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