BANKOLE, MEDVIEW BOSS, DARES FOREIGN AIRLINES TO INVEST IN NIGERIA

The Managing Director of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole has lashed out at the foreign airlines operating into the country to desist from threatening the national economy with their decision to halt their operations in the country if they are not allowed to repatriate back home their entire resources.

He said instead of insisting on this they should rather think of supporting the current efforts by the present administration to rebuild the national economy and reducing poverty among Nigerian through retention, as much as possible, hard currencies within its vaults and the creation of job opportunities for the locals.   Alhaji Bankole was speaking while taking delivery of the airline’s Boeing 737-500 which went through a comprehensive C-Check recently. He argued that allowing them to repatriate their resources back home would drain the national economy and further weaken it. According to him this practice is akin to killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

He condemned the current practice of the airlines whereby they plunder the national economy by moving money out of our vaults totally, advising that rather they should plough back investments that would help in improving their standing with the locals through the creation of jobs and not just remain portfolio airlines.

This is just as he dismissed claims making rounds in the media on major foreign airlines operating into the country’s plan to exit due to hard conditions describing it as claptrap since Nigeria is some of their most viable route.

He urged the foreign airlines to borrow a leaf from Medview, which, while plying its trade internationally, has put investment in other countries through the employment of the locals, saying “there and there is nothing wrong if airlines flying to Nigeria do the same.”

According to him, “You see the foreign airlines need to learn something: they are doing business in Nigeria, they must be reasonable to be putting investment in our country. They should not come here to say they must be moving money totally and that is the game. We (indigenous airlines) are in other countries, I am in Saudi Arabia, I invest money, I have an office, I have a property, and I employ Saudi nationals.”

“So they (the foreign airlines) should be able to create a window for employment. Nigeria has been nice to them, they can’t operate like this in other countries. We give them over $200million when Nigerian airlines are groaning with nothing in their hands. We are not complaining for now but let the government understand that, that is why you have to enhance the capacity of your own airlines so that your people create more jobs for your people.”

On the news that airlines were leaving the country Bankole noted that some airlines that know what they were doing were not busy playing mind games about leaving but were sticking to their business plans as the Nigerian route has been quite viable for them.

He said,” I will rather tell you not to be afraid of that. None (foreign airlines) are going anywhere because this is one of their major markets worldwide. I can tell you. You see that Emirates is not singing any word. Not all of them are singing, the few ones probably are not marketing very well.”

The Medview boss, who was on the entourage of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) that visited the Minister recently noted that aviation is an economic driver, stating that, the role of airlines in economic development cannot be downplayed.

He said, “I was there when we met the Minister. It was a nice thing for you to know that the Minister, from my interaction with him, is a wonderful person. He has seen it that he had to carry everybody along and he has done wonderfully well. He had to leave everything he was doing to go with us to meet the Controller General of Customs, to go to the CBN Governor, to go to the Ministry of Finance that shows he is committed.”

“We want to thank him for this opportunity. But we want to tell him that the best thing he can do is to tell Mr. President to be able to understand the value of being in this industry. This is the driving force, without this, there is no movement and without movement there can’t be commerce.”

On his plans for fleet expansion, Bankole said,” I just came back from a trip to Boeing. I was a special guest there. They are putting two 737-800 series in the production for Med-View. They are interested in our patronage of Boeing materials and they are saying what can they do for us, they even offered us a 777. We only pray that government makes a quick change on the economy because aviation is a driving force for the economy. Without an airline, moving people at fast rate, economy would never move. This is the business.”