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Why national carrier project was shelved, by Osinbajo

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Nigeria Air. Photo PM News Nigeria

Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has offered an insight into why the much-celebrated Nigeria Air project was suspended by the Federal Government.

According to him, the decision was to allow for private-sector management of the proposed national carrier.

During an interactive session, tagged The Grill and organised at the weekend by Christian leaders and youths in Lagos, Osinbajo clarified that the current administration was disposed to a flag carrier that would be run mainly by the private sector.

His words: “We didn’t want another airline that would be run by the government. Several international companies and local investors have come together and are planning to run the airline and carry the Nigerian flag. Nigeria is one of the most lucrative places for airline business in Africa and the airports must also be run professionally.

“And that is why we are also trying to concession the airports. So if we concession the airports and have Nigeria Air, it will be much easier for the nation to be Africa’s hub in the aviation sector.”

On the prevailing high exchange, he noted that Nigeria does not have a convertible currency, “so we rely on the dollar. The more the dollars, the more favourable the exchange rate.”

He went on: “From 2010 to 2014, Nigeria earned the highest amount of money ever, $383 billion, and that was when we had our best exchange rate. One barrel of oil was sold above $100. By May 2015, the price of oil fell to $28. So, there was a sharp drop in foreign exchange.

“The first strategy we adopted was to import less. If we focus on local production, our country will not only create jobs, but also have all the foreign exchange issues reduced.”

The vice president pointed out that in 2015 when the Muhammadu Buhari government came on board, Boko Haram was in control of 17 council areas, adding: “Today, they are just in Borno border. The Nigerian Army has contained and restricted them to where they are now.

“We also have a threat of ISIS West Africa and we are working with neighboring countries to prevent their incursion. The purchase of weapon is also political. You can’t buy war equipment from Brazil for instance, without the United States.”

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