(Opinion) Nigeria Air : Last Minute Arrival Of Shame and Dishonour By Abraham James
In a show of shame and dishonour,the embattled, outgoing Minister of Aviation,Hadi Sirika is trying to test the will and resilience of Nigerians,even with an impending court order restraining the importation of the aircrafts,whose airworthiness is uncertain,a last minute rush you will call it,an arm twisting plan,a boju boju kind of arrangee between Hadi Sirika and his cohorts,this move must be investigated against procurement acts of government and law governing the operation of Airlines as enshrined in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA) Law,is this standard acceptable to ICAO.Hadis desperation to convince President Muhammadu Buhari, that he succeeded in bringing into the Nigeria’s Airspace Aircraft’s that are àlleged not to be registered in Nigeria’s name is an issue of investigation and probe by all anti- grafts agencies ICPC,EFCC and the local and International aviation governing bodies NCAA and ICAO to bring the embattle Minister of Aviation, Alhaji Hadi Sirika to Justice with respect to this last minute deal with Ethiopian Airlines and repainting of two of its aircrafts for a STATIC DISPLAY in Nigeria on Friday, May 26,2023,if this is found to be true,Hadi,must be prosecuted.
According to findings, this was to justify his promise to deliver Nigeria Air before May 29.He was seen on television, days before the arrival of this Airlines, that they will arrive on a Friday,and so they were secretly imported,landed in Abuja Airport,where he invited friends and Family members to grace the disgraceful occassion.
We gathered that in an effort to achieve the desperate plot, Sirika had to enter into a quick agreement and truce with his associates in Ethiopia Airlines, to rent two of their aircraft on their fleet to be used to convince Nigerians that he has delivered as promised,this is a last minute gimmick.Nigerians have being fooled enough.
According to our investigations, the two aircrafts were flown to Turkey where they were repainted and furnished to carry Nigeria’s colours before they were sneaked into Nigeria for a static display which would hold at 4pm on May 26. They are due back in Addis Ababa according to sources after the static display.
Already, Sirika’s office had sent out invitations to government officials, emirs and stakeholders to grace the static display, which would hold in Abuja.
Investigations into Sirika’s desperation to close the deal which had raised many questions, showed that the Minister had wanted to armtwist the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to wave all registration processes and grant the airline a licence to operate in Nigeria, despite not meeting regulatory requirements.
However, the Authority, it was gathered, insisted on strict observation of the mandatory registration processes.
According to NCAA regulations, an applicant for an Airlines Operators Certificate (AOC) must show proof of ownership of at least three aircrafts, which must also be registered in Nigeria.This did not meet any of the requirements.
The NCAA insistence on strict observation of the process, we gathered, provoked Sirika, because his rented aircraft do not meet the requirement.
According to regulatory sources, the two rented aircrafts are registered in Ethiopia and not in Nigeria as required by the law.
However, Sirika was said to have begged to be allowed to fly them into Nigeria for DEMONSTRATION FLIGHT before President Buhari and his incoming successor in order to clear the shame of failing to deliver.
Though NCAA turned down the request, Sirika deviced a new process, not known to the industry, to show that the aircraft would be used for STATIC DISPLAY only.
According to our sources, one other hurdle facing Sirika’s Nigeria Air is that it is just at the second stage of its license acquisition process, which is manual submission.
Our source said, Sirika wanted the processes waived in order to remove shame of failure on him and to proof to the government he has delivered.
It was further gathered that insistence by NCAA on due process, forced Sirika to attempt the sack of the NCAA Director General. However, his move failed because of new regulations in the NCAA Act, which legally mandated an action by the Senate and board of the agency before the DG could be sacked.
We further learnt that his desperation to force the hands of NCAA on the project got the attention of the global aviation regulatory body, the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), which warned Nigeria of dire consequences should the aviation regulation procedures be waived in favour of Nigeria Air.
Specifically. ICAO was said to have told Nigeria that it would be catastrophic for it to breach regulations for Sirika.
However, the leadership of other regulatory agencies, which were not protected by law like the NCAA, were not so lucky as Sirika fired them for insisting that due process must be observed in the creation of Nigeria Air.
Sirika’s desperation has also raised questions about the actual owners of Nigeria Air. While the minister had said that Ethiopian owns 51 percent equity of the airline, industry experts are asking for full disclosure as to the value of the 51% equity.
They also want to know the share capital of the airline and have full disclosure on what other equity stakeholders contributed to it.
According to an industry operator “the minister’s desperation clearly points to something shady. He should have put a lot of things to rest by telling Nigerians who the equity stakeholders are and the monetary value of their shareholding in the airline.
“He said that Nigeria owns only 5%. That means we are a minority shareholder. So, why are the majority shareholders not fighting for their investment to see the light of day? Or, did they just throw away the value of 51% equity shareholding? These are questions that Sirika has refused to answer, which has made many Nigerians to believe, that the desperation he has shown so far, including disobeying valid court orders, are indications that this project may be his own personal slice of the cake”.”
The minister has been on this project for a long time, He has waisted several billions on it without result. Now, he is in desperate move for validation on a project that is not even on the table. Nothing else could be more fraudulent and I believe the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu understands the game better before he will rubbish the good intention of the new incoming administration”.
* Abraham James, an Economic Development Expert at Hallvive Media and Communication Limited, Abuja. Email: Hallvivemediacom @gmail.com,Instagram:@vivehall.