Ex-Minister opens up on Nigeria Air, says N5 billion received for project since 2016-2023

  • Welcomes probe, flays airlines, Nnaji, others for conspiracy to truncate carrier

 

Former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has opened up on the controversies that trailed the Nigeria Air project, saying that only N5billion was made available for the project contrary to insinuation in some quarters that N85 billion was ‘squandered’ on the proposed carrier.

The Minister had come under fire and scrutiny for the way and manner the national carrier project was pursued with some labeling it, ‘fraudulent’ while some others described the entire process as shrouded in secrecy.

He had severally defended the position he took and the need to have a national carrier for the nation, saying all the decisions taken were in the interest of the country. He hinted that Nigeria Air Company is known to Nigerian laws and has a shareholders structure.

Hadi Sirika

Sirika who is billed to speak on Sunday on national television told Aviation Metric in an exclusive when our sought to know his view on the airline that had generated controversy said, “I am sure it is about this N85 billion, and of course, you have been following civil aviation. All of the monies earmarked for national carrier 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 is not even up to the N5 billion on top of the N85 billion they are bandying about.”

READ ALSO:  Ethiopian to Include Kaduna in its Vast Global Network

Sirika further stated that the government had all the resources and agencies to look through every single transaction made concerning the airline to find out if there is any impropriety, adding that he is not losing any sleep about the noise generated by the carrier’s setup

“What was budgeted does not mean it has been released and if released, it is not all that is utilized by the time I exited. Again, there is no contract given in Nigeria Air, all the monies spent on consultancy services, transaction advisory services, the office in Abuja, travels and salaries finish. There is nothing else.

“Don’t worry about it, the truth will be unveiled and what they (Airlines) are doing to truncate the national carrier because, they are afraid that they will be exposed for their incapacity, and poor service and it is an opportunity for them to improve on their services and give Nigerians services they deserve.”

READ ALSO:  FAAN to shut Lagos airport runways for eight weeks for repair, to divert planes to alternate taxiway

He noted that in the event that the government decides to halt the project which he described as unlikely, “There are only five percent, 95 percent of the company will continue. If the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCo Plc) tomorrow say they are not doing, it has only ten percent of the business, the remaining 90 percent will go and if both of them say they are not doing, it is just 15 percent of the company, it will continue.”

The ex-Minister slammed the ex-Chairman, of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, saying he was not truthful to himself and refused people from the other side from speaking, adding that when they were given the chance to speak, he interjected and said, “I hereby resolve”.

“What did you resolve? You have been in the House since you take the outcome to the committee, debate them, agree, and come out with a pronouncement, and not for you to do the hearing right there and have a pronouncement. That is number one. Number two, you don’t have the locus or the authority to issue directives or orders to Executive work for your country because they have not been elected for that. They can hear, advise and call on the government, and in a worst-case scenario, they can go to court. I will speak on the issues raised if you can hook up to Arise on Sunday at 4 pm.”

READ ALSO:  NAAE PHOTO

He faulted the actions of some airlines for opposing the Ethiopian Airlines partnership with the airline, stressing that he had failed to understand what their grouse was when “Air Peace of this world are partnering with an airline in the Caribbean.  What an irony.

Wole Shadare