The present arguments by AON based on BASA principle and the recent call by the National Assembly Committees on Aviation for BASA review are now largely a waste of time and energy and will most unlikely have any positive outcome.
Airline Operators of Nigeria – AON is an Aviation industry pressure group whose status emanate from the fact that its members constitute, not just the mainstay of the industry, but also the sustenance and drivers of the sector, a sector that is a fulcrum on which many aspects of the economy revolve.
In the industry, Airline Operators should collectively have a voice that should never be ignored in policy, plan and vision for the development and growth of the sector.
By 2010, resolute challenge from AON had become such that the then Aviation Minister decided to apply a political master stroke that ended the existence of a strong AON. Unfortunately, some members of the then AON for various personal motives offered themselves as accessories to the plan and unwittingly offered the head of AON to the Minister on a platter, like the head of John the Baptist to Herodias. Having taken out Mahonwu and Joji, which was the objective, the new AON that emerged had no baton, no history to take over. Peopled by new younger operators without pedigree and exposure to global, regional and domestic aeropolitics, its voice became very weak with very limited respect in the industry and consequently, very limited impact.
This is predicated on the fact that, not only being airline operators, their exposure and knowledge put them ahead of the generality of other stakeholders, particularly in the airline subsector. But this status diminishes when there are gaps in knowledge.
For almost two decades, up to 2010, the AON was the most formidable voice in the industry. The duo of Dr. Steve Mahonwu and Capt. Mohammed Joji, (Chairman and Secretary-General of AON respectively), with vast experience in the industry provided interventions of general and common interests for airline operators and the industry. They focused on policies and actions of the government and its agencies that clogged the industry’s wheel of progress.
AON not only attracted respect but also engendered some fear in the minds of principal and political officers to the extent that one Minister called AON, a “pain in the ass”. Mahonwu and Joji-led AON were a restraint on political and public service actors who sought to act on not too well thought out policies and plans in the industry. Both of them sought and had facts in their hands with which they confronted and challenged misdemeanours. One could disagree with their analyses but their facts stood the hard test of factuality.