Festus Keyamo is best suited for the position, contends
The appointment of Festus Keyamo, SAN, as the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, could not have come at a better time. Indeed, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has something up his sleeves. There are bound to be mixed reactions.
To some, Keyamo does not fit the bill being a lawyer with no experience in the aviation sector. Others argue that the position is not technical but administrative. However, I stand with the school of thought that emphasizes on administration because there is no guarantee that a pilot or an aviation expert would do magic in this critical sector. Instead, what is needed is someone who understands what leadership entails and is ready to put issues in proper perspective.
I have struggled not to assume that the cabal that has held the aviation sector by the jugular is behind the narrative that Keyamo is not fit for purpose. It is okay to be ignorant, but it is not an excuse. In Western climes, the emphasis has been on sound mind and administrative competence rather than discipline.
Remember that lack of purposeful leadership has been the bane of the challenges facing most critical sectors in Nigeria. We often tend to play to the gallery and forget the substance. I will give an example. During the second tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, the then President wanted to drive reforms in the health sector and went head-hunting for a suitable candidate. He eventually settled for Professor Eyitayo Lambo, an economist and operations research expert.
As usual, medical doctors went ballistic, insisting that the position of Minister of Health was meant for a medical doctor. But in response, the then-president made it clear that he was not looking for a minister of medicine but a health minister to drive reforms in the sector.
The rest is history as it turned out that Professor Eyitayo’s tenure remains one of the best in the country’s annals. This is by no means making comparison, but putting forward the argument that what is needed is administrative competence and the ability to call a spade a spade.
This perhaps was President Tinubu’s mindset in choosing Festus Keyamo. I wonder if anyone can question the credentials of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He is bold and capable of making far-reaching decisions, having served as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and Labour and Productivity in the past administration.
The aviation sector needs a man with the brilliance of Keyamo, regardless of what has been peddled against him. He has a strong character and resolve when putting issues in proper perspective.
We are about to experience a significant transformation in Nigeria. It is important to recognise that the mandate was expanded to include aerospace development. This is brilliant and why Nigerians must be circumspect in the analysis of issues.
Keyamo, like other ministers, knows that the present realities do not look like a joke, hence the need to hit the ground running. I am glad the president has said he will be quick to fire any minister who does not meet up with the task. I am also convinced that the president was meticulous in assigning ministries.
Festus Keyamo at the helm of affairs in the aviation sector would mark a new beginning in aerospace development. His interventions would be at the policy level because he is experienced in governance and has a brilliant mind as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
This rank is not for the mediocre. To attain this status in the legal profession, one must be exceptional in character and integrity. Keyamo is no doubt a stable mind to analyze and address issues. His position has been that of doing the right thing, which must have been unpalatable for some people. The aviation sector needs such a person to insist on doing the right thing due to the sector’s sensitivity.
Mr. President has acted in the country’s best interest; it has never been about a political settlement. It is identifying those who can get the job done to do so. Courage is needed to bring about change in a country like Nigeria. You also need firmness to address the rot in the system. These attributes define Festus Keyamo, so why the sweat?
I advise the honorable minister to pay no heed to the distractions. He should concentrate on the task of delivering the mandate of the president. He has pledged not to disappoint Tinubu and Nigerians. He indeed meant it in his honour.
At this point, Nigerians should sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight. We have a destination and shall get there. My two cents.
Akinmosu is a public affairs analyst based in Irele, Ondo State