Opposition parties, including the Action Congress of Nigeria, on Monday criticised President Goodluck Jonathan over a new law, which bars private jet owners from carrying friends in their aircraft.
The ACN specifically in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the law as another “hallmark of emerging despotism of the Jonathan administration”.
The Federal Government, in its National Civil Aviation Policy 2013, states, “For private aircraft owned or leased by individuals, only the family members of the owner/lessee of the aircraft will be permitted on board as passengers.
“For private aircraft owned or leased by companies or corporate entities, only the employees and members of the boards of directors of the company will be permitted on board as passengers.”
ACN said the regulation was impracticable.
It stated, “Aviation is global, yet nowhere in the world has this kind of policy been put in place, and it is simply impracticable.
“Whoever is still in doubt about the transmogrification of the Jonathan administration should have a second thought.
“This policy could only have been designed to satisfy the yearning for absolute power by a democratically-elected President who will not hesitate to subject his compatriots to tyrannical rule.”
Frowning on the President’s spokesman defence of the President alleged missteps, the ACN added that the new aviation policy was “unprecedented, and formulated with some devilish intentions”.
Also, the All Nigeria Peoples Party said the President had become desperate because of his growing unpopularity among Nigerians.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Emma Eneuku, said, “President Jonathan is becoming unpopular by the day, and this is entirely because of non-performance.”
He said, “It is a leadership that prefers to deal in pedantic policies that bears no positive impact on the ordinary citizens.
“Undoubtedly, this leadership is adrift and unable to control its cluelessness.”
But the Federal Government, through its Ministry of Aviation, said it did not bar owners of private jets from carrying their friends or family members on board their aircraft.
The government said the new policy was to put an end to the commercialisation of aircraft registered as private jets by their owners.
The Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joe Obi, in an interview with one of our correspondents said, “There is no where we are saying that private jet owners should not carry their friends and family members.
“What we are saying is that private jet owners should not hide under the fact that they have private jets and begin to use them indirectly for commercial operations and commercial services.”
Meanwhile, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, has described the criticism greeting the policy as a continuation of the opposition’s game of mischief.
Abati said the policy was in consonance with aviation industry’s international best practices.
The presidential spokesman described the criticism as a clear case of misrepresentation.
He said, “I believe that in this matter, the Ministry of Aviation and the relevant agencies will issue a statement offering necessary clarification. But the truth however is that we are faced once again with the ACN engaging in its usual game of mischief.
“The policy that statement by the ACN appears to be referring to deals essentially with the fact that in the aviation sector, the authorities are insisting on international best practice.”