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Nigeria’s Aviation Minister Keyamo Accuses Former Minister Of Orchestrating Defamation Campaign

Festus Keyamo has accused an ex-minister of using media attacks to discredit his aviation sector reforms.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, Festus Keyamo has alleged that there are orchestrated plans by a former Minister to defame his invaluable contribution to the development of the aviation industry in the last nine months.

This was as the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) stressed that the high score of 71.04 per cent Nigeria recorded in the audit exercise conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Universal Security Audit Programme-Continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) in the country’s aviation industry was due to the concerted effort of the Minister and the Director General of NCAA, Captain Chris Najomo.

 Keyamo in a statement signed by his spokesman, Tunde Moshood, stated that the Ministry of Aviation was aware of a plan by a certain Minister to denigrate the achievements he has recorded since he became Minister of Aviation.

In the statement titled, “A Reply to One Iliyasu Gadu Who Has Been Hired to Attack Festus Keyamo,” stated, “We are aware that a certain former Minister met with some so-called ‘online  influencers’ and some hack writers in Abuja some weeks ago and the agenda was simply on how to generate comments, articles and editorials and plant them in various media against no other person than the current Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN to water down the efforts he’s presently making to reposition the aviation sector as mandated by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

 “They have since embarked on a well-oiled campaign of calumny against the Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo.

“This coordinated attack is clearly driven by their total discomfort over the Honourable Minister’s commendable performance and focus on key issues in that sector which has confounded even his fiercest critics. So, we know where Iliyasu Gadu is coming from.”

 The statement noted that the Minister expected the push-back by “the reactionary forces,” noting that the beneficiaries of the old, decadent order would hardly ever give up old privileges without a fight.

The statement observed, “But, definitely, in the eyes of right-thinking Nigerians, the Honourable Minister is doing a damn good patriotic job by restoring the culture of sanity, efficiency and accountability in the aviation sector, consistent with President Tinubu’s renewed Hope Agenda.

 “In the last few weeks, the paymaster and his hirelings wrote and planted an editorial in one of the nation’s major dailies complaining about Keyamo’s alleged ‘interference’ in what they see as ‘regulatory issues on safety.’

“Apparently pained by the wide applause that has greeted the Minister’s bold initiatives both in the media and civic space, these disgruntled elements decided to generate a laughable and warped ‘fact-check’ on the stated achievements with a view to discrediting them. But knowledgeable folks who read the so-called ‘fact-check’ only laughed out so loud that they could not help but call for another fact-check to check the fact-checker!”

Picking holes in the article written by Gadu, which referred to Keyamo as ‘embattled’ the Minister stated: “Haba! Who could be more embattled than his paymaster who has been running from pillar to post to clear himself of barrage of corruption charges, ineptitude during his tenure and fraudulent projects he embarked upon?”

The statement also noted that the Minister has consistently demonstrated exemplary leadership and strategic acumen, earning him accolades and admiration from members of the public, adding that any attempt to discredit him, particularly by a former Minister whose reputation had already been tarnished, was not only baseless but also a desperate bid to deflect from his own failures.

 The statement described the article written against the Minister as alarmist, noting that Gadu’s spurious claims, particularly regarding the ICAO score, were unfounded.

“The recent 71 per cent ICAO score is a reflection of systemic issues inherited from previous administration, and not as a result of Mr. Keyamo’s stewardship of just nine months. It was Mr. Keyamo’s brilliance and managerial expertise that steered the nation through the ICAO audit process, mitigating what could have been worse situation. Mr. Keyamo has since set up a Ministerial team, headed by himself and to be meeting monthly, to prepare for the next audit, something never done before in the sector.

 “In fact, in Gadu’s confused state, on the one hand, he blames Mr. Keyamo for the ICAO’s score which happened under Keyamo’s watch (he feels Mr. Keyamo could have done more to remedy the situation), yet in the same breath, he criticises Mr. Keyamo for ‘interference’ in regulatory matters. Haba!

“He needs to clear his head properly and further consult his paymaster as to whether they should criticise Mr. Keyamo for safety issues or tell Mr. Keyamo to totally keep off safety issues,” the statement noted.

Furthermore, on the issue of the Abuja second runway and the land dispute with the Jiwa Community, the Ministry stated that the facts speak for themselves, disclosing that the head of the Jiwa Community himself, HRH Dr. Idris Musa, Sarkin Jiwa, at different public fora openly acknowledged the sterling role Mr. Keyamo played the moment he assumed office in resolving the major part of the issues, allowing the contractors to immediately move to site.

The statement added that the Aviation Minister was ably assisted by his counterpart in the FCT Ministry, remarking that the information was readily available and corroborated by numerous sources, contrary to the misleading narratives propagated by those it described as “alarmist.”

Meanwhile, the NCAA reiterated that Keyamo and the acting Director General of the NCAA, Captain Chris Najomo made significant contributions to earn Nigeria a pass mark of 71.04 per cent in the audit exercise conducted by the ICAO’s USAP-CMA.

 This was disclosed by the Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NCAA,  Michael Achimugu, who said the industry was able to achieve that success because of leadership skills and dexterity in mobilising  manpower and resources to ensure all open gaps were closed, else, Nigeria would have failed in the final outcome.

The NCAA spokesman described as mischievous comments by commentators that both the Minister and DG, CAA were responsible for the allegedly poor ratings the country achieved, insisting that both came into office barely months ago and went to work immediately to improve on the deteriorating airport infrastructure and poor remunerations of workers they met on ground.

 In the meantime, the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, on Wednesday,  refuted claims by some sections of the media that the tenure of the acting Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority has expired.

The Ministry in a statement in Abuja, signed by Oduseyi Olutayo said there was no worry about the tenure of Mr. Chris Najomo as he remains the acting Director General of NCAA.

It stated that the Public Service Rules (PRS) which defines employment relationship between employees in the Public Service and the Government in section 7: 020704(b) on Acting Appointment stipulates that the period of Acting appointment shall not exceed one year, but in exceptional circumstances may be extended for another year, stating: “The Acting Director-General, Mr. Chris Najomo has been in office for only six months.”

Chinedu Eze and Kasim Sumaina 

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