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‘Forcing civil servants to fly Nigeria Air amounts to killing private sector, rights abuse’

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Crisis of confidence has erupted in the nation’s aviation sector following a strange announcement by the Minister of State for Aviation; Capt. Hadi Sirika that government is working on an executive bill that will criminalise the act of public servant travelling on air ticket bought with public funds on another airline other than Nigerian carrier.

The minister noted that a bill will soon be sent to the National Assembly to pass a ‘Fly Nigeria Act’

Though he claimed that the move is to make indigenous airlines viable, many aviation experts who spoke to our correspondents on the development described the idea as the worst trade policy to come from a government that want to deepen private sector activities.

A human rights lawyer and legal adviser to one of the domestic carriers who pleaded anonymity berated the government for such separatist policy knowing full well that majority of flyers in Nigeria are public servants.

He said “If the minister had said such a thing, it amounts to an embarrassment on the collective intelligence of Nigerians”.

“We are not in Banana Republic where peoples’ choices are trampled and abused. Such a law which I know cannot pass through the eagle eyes of the lawmakers is not only draconian but sounds primordial.

Also speaking, another travel agent based at MMIA, Lagos, said “Such a law will kill more business and cause unprecedented job loss in the aviation sector as more than 55 per cent of air travelers are workers.

“I think the best thing for the emerging national carrier is to enter the market with attractive packages that can draw passengers to itself than playing the protectionist card which can stifle many other struggling private airlines and in the process remove level playing ground.

A federal lawmaker who was asked to speak on the matter in a telephone interview said “I don’t think its wise to speak on a mere comments by a government official until we get the bill at the floor of the house”.

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