Keyamo and His Laudable Footprints


By Julius Onwe

Who is a good leader? One that controls everything or one that brings out the best in others? Hear this: A good leader is more than just one who holds everything and everyone. It’s about being someone who brings out the best in others and creates in them a sense of purpose that continues to prevail even when you’re not there.

This is happening in the aviation sector under the leadership of Festus Keyamo, the aviation and aerospace development minister. As a start, he recognized that getting the job done required that he engage with the best to head strategic agencies under his ministry.

I like to use the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as an example. The reform he introduced was a sweeping one. Not only was a new managing director appointed, but new directors who would complement the efforts of the managing director were also appointed. The implication was that he injected fresh hands with fresh ideas to run with his plans and programmes to revamp the organization. He didn’t stop there.

He ensured the relocation of FAAN’s headquarters to Lagos, where most of its operations are carried out. I recall a section in the country trying to give a colouration to the move. But trust Festus Keyamo to defend his action with facts. And there was nothing to say against the move again. That is leadership.

Festus Keyamo is a pragmatic leader who understands how to play the game. He is fearless and does not care whose ox is gored so long the common interest is protected. This has been evident in the other reforms he introduced with the president’s backing.

He seems like a man in a hurry to make a statement. I wonder that leader who would not given the precarious situation in the country. This is because the aviation sector provides the only rapid worldwide transportation network, making it essential for global business. It generates economic growth, creates jobs, and facilitates international trade and tourism.

Nothing is as important as a leader understanding the challenges and knowing what to do without playing to the gallery. This hasn’t been the case with successive aviation ministers in the country. For example, what was the rationale for relocating FAAN headquarters from Lagos to Abuja? Did it matter that the relocation affected the operational performance of the organization? Did the relocation amount to a gross waste of scarce resources? Your guess is as good as mine.

Thank God for the coming of Festus Keyamo, who by all indications can be dubbed the saviour of the aviation sector in Nigeria. What makes him different is his intellectual prowess. As a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he could not have done less than he currently does.

For those of us who are conversant with the aviation sector, more reforms are underway in the manner the honourable minister has started. For him, it is a mix of dexterity and passion. And this mix has signalled a revolution in the country’s aviation sector.

These are leadership lessons. We must recognize that getting it right starts from the top. Things will naturally fall in place once we get it right up there. Festus Keyamo has proved that leadership is about commitment and passion. There is also a twist. The fact that he is a lawyer raised some concerns about his ability to deliver. Industry experts questioned his suitability for the job.

Their arguments were hinged on a supposed lack of technical knowledge of the aviation sector. But they should have remembered that leadership is not technical. Instead, leadership is about strategy and the profound ability to idealize thoughts and bring these thoughts to fruition.

Festus Keyamo has brought his profound leadership abilities to bear since he assumed office as the aviation and aerospace development minister. Maybe the president saw in him what we didn’t see. Whatever the case, the president’s decision to appoint Festus Keyamo as the minister of aviation and aerospace development was strategic.

There have been tangible gains in the sector recently. It didn’t happen by magic; it was simply because someone decided to be practical in approach and dedicated to the cause of the common good. These are worthy lessons that things can work in the country if those saddled with leadership positions devote themselves to the cause of the common good example set by Festus Keyamo.

The aviation sector has experienced tremendous growth in less than a year since the advent of this administration. Festus Keyamo hit the ground running. He took the bull by the horns and dared where others threaded softly. There are indeed great lessons to be learned. Making the country work should not be rocket science. The very little things like passion and dedication can go a long way.

As mentioned in my previous articles, Festus Keyamo is a shining star in this administration. Others need to take a cue from his leadership strides. One thing is that he has stamped his feet in the sands of time. And posterity will be kind to him. My charge to him is that he should not rest on his oars. Even though he has reposed the confidence the president has in him, there is still much work to be done in the critical aviation sector.

The various steps taken so far are impressive. And finally, the aviation sector is receiving the attention it deserves. The gains would be tangible and far-reaching in contributing to sustainable growth and development in the country.

Onwe wrote this piece from the National Assembly quarters, Apo Abuja.

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