FG Suspends Controversial, Embryonic National Carrier;Nigeria Air
… As Ojikutu Asks Govt. To Disclose Reason For Suspension
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika today disclosed that the Federal Executive Council(FEC) has suspended the controversial national carrier project; Nigeria Air.
The suspension is coming about 63 days after the name of the airline and logo was unveiled at the Farnborough International Airshow in London.
The Minister made this known on his on his Twitter handle, @hadisirika, Sirika tweeted.
“ I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always.”
Though ,no reason was given for the suspension of the much talked about project but that source in the industry who be in the know said the suspension was for strategic reason.
Recalled that the Government had said that the with as much as $300 million the unborn Nigeria Air would come on stream.
The Federal Government through the Minister als said that government would contribute only 5 per cent of the $300million but did not disclosed how the remaining 95 percent will be contributed and who these investors are .
Reacting to the suspension, a Security Expert and the Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Securities, Grp Capt. John Ojikutu(rtd) said the reason for the suspension of the project should be made known to the public if truly it is national carrier.
According to him, “I don’t think we have properly gotten our acts together with the need for a national carrier. I also do not think many in the federal executive have grasped the meaning or differences between national carrier and government carrier which Nigeria Airways was. Remember early this year, the President said, he wants to know what killed Nigeria Airways for him to give serious thought to a new carrier.”
“Government has right to back pedal if its 5% shares will require initial $300m contribution. Secondly, those to contribute the remaining 95% have not been identified or named. I believe those in cabinet were considering where would be the source of the $300m in this national economic downturn without knowing who are the contributors of the balance of 95%. The suggestions some of us supported are; 40% for foreign technical investors.”
He continued, “The foreign technical investors shares according to the minister now is 50% but who are they? They must not be among any of our competitors on the international routes. 20% for credible Nigerian investors and boardroom gurus like Dangotes, Otedolas, Emeka Ofors, etc. 10% for Fed and states government and the remaining 30% for the Nigerian public through IPO. This is simple and transparent sharing which I thought the minister was offering.Whatever has happened between him and the cabinet members that makes the project suspended or to be kept on hold must be shared with the public if truly it is a national carrier project and not government or private project. This should not be a Nigeria Airways (Government carrier) that was liquidated without any recourse to Nigerians neither do I think it is another Virgin Nigeria in making, a private airline given a coloration of a national carrier.”
“The minister must return to council and tell them we don’t really or may not need the whole of the $300m from the Fed government as the 5% contribution. 50% of that amount is sufficient for now as the 5% of the initial capital. $300m is on the high side for a government in perpetual recession. $3billion from all the prospective shareholders is sufficient to bring in at least 20 to 30 new aircraft,” Ojikutu said.
Recalled that in July 18,2018, Sirika unveiled the name of Nigeria’s national carrier as Nigerai Air, as well as the logo at the Farnborough International Airshow in London.
At the unveiling in London, the Minister said, “this will be a national carrier that is private sector-led and driven. It is a business, not a social service. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. The investors will have full responsibility for this.”
“The Nigerian Government will not own more than 5% (maximum) of the new National Carrier. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it,” he added
He stated that the Federal Government was already in talks with aircraft manufacturers. According to him, “We’ve been talking to Airbus and Boeing regarding the aircraft for and we will be making announcements very soon. We are currently negotiating.”