Despite the smear campaign previous owners of Arik Air Limited had mounted, especially since the change of government in the country, to pitch the public against the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the leadership of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), led by Engineer Mudi Muhammad, on Tuesday called on the management of AMCON to ignore all manner of distractions from ill-informed critics and continue the execution of its interventionist strategy that would ensure the survival of Arik.
Mohammad, while on a courtesy visit at AMCON in Abuja, said irrespective of the negative narratives that are clearly designed to mislead the public who do not understand the enormity of the challenges of Arik before AMCON intervened, NAAPE as an association recognized the activities of AMCON in Arik, its huge investment, giant strides in both Arik as well as the overall financial system stability and asset management in the country for which the association wants AMCON to continue. He added that this is the only viable option that will guarantee Arik’s survival.
Mohammad was accompanied to AMCON by other senior officials of the association, including Ehiamere Okechi, Captain Jude Aduba, and Engineer Egagah Alex. They were received on behalf of the Management of AMCON by the duo of Mr. Usman Abubakar and Mr. Tinus Osikoya, AMCON’s Head of Specialized Asset Enforcement and Head of Operations, respectively.
According to a release by Jude Nwauzor, Head, Corporate Communications Department of AMCON, the NAAPE Chairman said, “We are here (at AMCON) today as an association to demonstrate our support to AMCON because, as insiders, we understand the big contribution AMCON made to ensure that Arik did not die. If AMCON had not stepped in at the time they did, Arik would have ceased to exist a long time ago to join the growing list of airlines in the burial ground of Nigeria’s aviation industry.
“As NAAPE, we know AMCON’s intervention in Arik about seven years ago was to protect the airline and save hundreds of us from losing our jobs. We can tell you categorically that in the last seven years since AMCON’s takeover of Arik, the airline has stood the test of time. So, we totally understand that Arik survived because of AMCON, unlike what some people wanted us to believe at the time. Before AMCON stepped into Arik, pensions, allowances, and staff salaries were not forthcoming, and the airline was on the verge of total collapse because of its huge debt burden.
“Indeed, AMCON has tried, but Arik still has several challenges, which we want the Management of AMCON led by Mr. Ahmed Lawan Kuru OFR to address through Mr. Kamilu Omokide, the Receiver/manager, who is also doing his best based on the support he gets from AMCON. We are here to plead that AMCON should support Arik to get more aircraft into its fleet, and as professionals who are passionate about our job, we want you to watch Arik dominate the aviation industry once again. We are making this appeal because, apart from providing and sustaining jobs in the country, Arik is a great training ground for the aviation sector, which is critical to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
“As an airline, we are always careful to follow the rules of engagement and global best practices. For that professionalism, we are proud to tell the public that for over 16 years of our operational existence as Arik Air, we have had zero accidents, which is a great feat and the reason why most former presidents of Nigeria always preferred to be flown by pilots from the Arik fold. So, with AMCON investing more into the affairs of the airline by procuring additional aircraft for its operation, Arik will help both the federal government and the economy because of its strategic importance.”
The NAATE Chairman added that the way things are going presently at the airline, if further investments are not quickly made by AMCON, Arik may begin to lose some of its highly experienced pilots and engineers to some foreign airlines who are desperate to poach them, a development he argued will defeat the purpose of the federal government’s intervention in Arik, which would ultimately bring a bad name to AMCON after such a well-intended intervention.
Again, he reiterated: “Arik has a strong Nigerian brand name. We therefore, as members of NAATE, are pleading with AMCON not to let Arik die because of the number of unemployment cases the death of Arik will add to the stressed economy and the negative ripple effect that it would create in the country.”