The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has declared the Nigeria Air project headed b former minister, Hadi Sirika a fraud. This is as the committee called for the suspension of the establishment of Nigeria Air. These resolutions were reached after the committee’s interactive session with some government officials and other relevant bodies in the sector on Tuesday.
Appearing before the committee, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, Emmanuel Meribole, explained that the “unveiling” was not an official launch but a display of “aspiration”, while stating that no amount was spent on the event.
In his words, he said, “We are in the process, we have not gotten an AOC for us to do official launching. But the processes are ongoing. To the best of my knowledge, from 2017 till date, we have not spent up to N3.8 billion because that is the appropriation money. The appropriation is there. No kobo was approved by the ministry. No kobo was spent on the unveiling. The unveiling is “aspirational” to allow people to see”
This is also as the Interim Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Capt. Dapo Olumide, who appeared before the committee on Tuesday, stated that the aircraft which was unveiled as the national carrier was a legitimate chartered flight from Ethiopian Airlines. He added that the particular aircraft that was unveiled was not registered and came into Nigeria with a few days clearance from Ethiopia and was returned after use.
According to him there are five phases or steps one goes through to get the license and Nigeria is still in phase one of the process.
While reacting to some reports that the passengers on board bought tickets, the MD refuted that the passengers were staff of Ethiopia airline that were brought in and at the end of the unveiling went back with their aircraft to Ethiopia
Captain Dapo also revealed that Nigeria Air is not at a point of operating the airline yet, as Nigeria Air does not have the requirements to operate as an airline in Nigeria
At the end of the hearing, Mr Nnaji read a resolution of the committee, as follows:
-The Committee, after careful evaluation of the issues on deliberation, is totally dissatisfied with the actions of the former Minister of Aviation, Sen, Hadi Sirka, in going ahead to flag off the operations of Nigeria Air despite a standing court injunction against such, and without any provision for sustaining the operations of the airline.
-We are equally irked by the role played by Ethiopian Airlines in this whole process. It does not speak well of the excellent brotherly relationship existing between our two nations.
-A careful review of the process indicates the exercise to be highly opaque, shrouded in secrecy, shoddy and capable of ridiculing and tarnishing the image of Nigeria before the international community. We want to put on record that the Committee and, indeed, the National Assembly had no role in the purported launch of Nigeria Air or anything related thereof.
-While the Committee and, indeed, the parliament is not opposed to Nigeria having a National Carrier, as a matter of fact, having a National Carrier is highly desirable to us as a people and Nigeria as a nation. However, such a process should be transparent and all-embracing. We, as a Committee, would not accept any attempt by any individual or group of individuals or organisations to hide under the project and siphon our commonwealths.