Nigeria’s Minister of State for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said that contrary to reports that there were no investors for the suspended Nigeria Air project, that Nigeria was able to attract potential investors such as IsDB, AfDB, AFREXIM, US-EXIM, Standard Chartered Bank, Boeing, Airbus, COMAC/CCECC, BOAD, China-Exim, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines for the national carrier.
Others the minister listed include: Deutsche Infrastructure Finance, French and US Governments etc have indicated interest in the project.
Sirika while speaking at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum at the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Conference Centre, Abuja yesterday, further stated that, apart from commitments in respect of transaction advisory services, branding and participation at Farnborough Airshow, no other expenditure has been incurred on the Nigeria Air Project.
He equally attributed the suspension of the Nigeria Air project to what he termed the extra 13 months it took for the Transaction advisers to complete the works after they took over from Lufthansa who brought in some outlandish demands to be transaction advisers.
Sirika who debunked claims from quarters that $8.8 million was expended at the Farnborough Airshow stated that it was misinformation, factual errors and insinuations that were been peddled in both social and print media on the Nigeria Air Project.
He further debunked media publications, stating that no foreign company was paid $600,000 for the design of the logo of Nigeria Air, the proposed National carrier, as being speculated on those quarters.
His words: “Apart from commitments in respect of transaction advisory services, branding and participation at Farnborough Airshow, no other expenditure has been incurred on the Nigeria Air Project.”
According to him, due process was followed in the branding of the Nigeria Air project, which included obtaining ‘’No Objection’’ Certificate with Ref. No.BPP/RPT/18/VOL.1/075 from the Bureau of Public Procurement for the sum of N50,893,000.00. and in retaining the services of the company and Certificate of “No Objection” Ref. No. BPP / RPT/ 18/ VOL 1/095 in the sum of N40,219,769.20. However, he said payment for these services was yet to be made.
He further explained that when he stated that the project was suspended and all obligations will be met, he meant the sum of N50,893,000.00 for branding and N40,219,769.20 in the company which was still pending.
The minister also explained that the Federal Ministry of Aviation’s participation at Farnborough Airshow was needed as somewhere there visible to launch the airline which he said was the purpose of airshows.
“Farnborough Airshow is a bi-annual Global Aviation event, which provided a perfect opportunity to unveil the National Carrier. It created visibility and connected manufacturers, investors and financiers. It also gave the opportunity to showcase all the projects in the Aviation roadmap.”
According to Sirika, for such events as the airshow, the services of a consultant was retained to arrange for the participation of the Nigerian Delegation (hiring of exhibition booth, meeting venues, obtaining relevant passes for delegates, facilitating meetings with prospective investors, logistics, souvenirs, branding materials, meals etc).
On the suspension of Nigeria Air, Sirika said Lufthansa had come in with an independent bid to become transaction adviser which is also practice but gave some conditions which included tax-free holidays and an upfront payment of 75%, and for government to pay the upfront into an escrow account.
Sirika further explained that government, was not establishing the national carrier to suffocate domestic carriers, but use it as a tool to stimulate overall air passenger travel demand, develop new routes.
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