The Nigerian government on Thursday said it has concluded plans to re-lunch the suspended national carrier project, also known as Nigeria Air.
Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, who stated this at an Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum held in Abuja also debunked allegations of misappropriation of funds and lack of transparency on the national carrier project, saying the project has been subjected to all due process requirements of Nigerian law up till when it was suspended.
“Nigeria Air will be relaunched; We are coming back very soon,” said Sirika.
“The decision to suspend the national carrier project by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), was only done in the interim.The FEC has agreed that the project is desirable and potentially beneficial to the nation,” he added.
Sirika also denied spending over $8.8million on the Farnborough Show in London, UK for the unveiling of the logo and brand name of the carrier, as well as paying $600,000 for the design of the logo of the airline.
He also denied allegations that the government had invested over N1.2billion on consultants working on the national carrier project as lies.
“These allegations are not true. The project was pursued in accordance with the law and with the Transaction Advisers appointed by the government and certificate of compliance issued by the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission,” the Minister said.
According to him, rather than the figures allegedly bandied about as spending or wasted by the government on the project, the government was owing consultants that worked on the national carrier project about N100million.
He said lots of investors had shown interest in partnering with the government to float a national carrier with Beoing Corporation pleading to commit 30 new aircraft for the project provided they get a “sovereign shoulder guarantee” from the Federal Government.
Sirika said the Federal Government had succeeded in stimulating the aviation sector between 2015 and 2018 to a point where it’s contribution to the GDP had grown from 0.4 per cent to 0.6 per cent. He expressed the optimism that the target was to increase the sector’s contribution to 4 per cent in the next four years.
Sirika in his scorecard said between January 2017 and June 2018, the aviation sector recorded an average growth of 33.4 per cent on domestic airline operations and 13.5 per cent on international operations. He said that this growth pattern came with job creation opportunities for Nigerians, stressing the target was to achieve a 100 per cent in the nearest future.
He also said Nigeria achieved an effective implementation level of 67.36 per cent during the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Universal Safety Oversight Audit programme carried out in March, 2016 which is above global average of 63.54 per cent.