Sirika contradicts Lai, says Nigeria Air project had ‘avalanche of investors’

ICAO scores Nigeria 96.4 in civil avaition security

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the processes leading to the establishment of a new national carrier, Nigeria Air, was not suspended because it was lacking investors.

Sirika said some potential investors indicated interest in the national carrier at the Farnborough Air Show in London where its logo and name were unveiled in July.

The minister disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday by the Deputy Director of Media and Public Affairs in the Ministry of Transportation, James Odaudu.

The statement apparently contradicts the position of the Minister of Information of Culture, Lai Mohammed, on the matter.

The information minister had on Monday said the project was suspended due to investor apathy, adding that the investors who were supposed to put in the major investment into the enterprise were not forthcoming.

Lai was quoted to have said, “If the understanding of government at the beginning was that the project might be self-financing or the project would be financed by investors and you think that such a project can no longer be sponsored by investors, either because they are not forthcoming or such venture can no longer be viable, the government is at the discretion to take a decision.”

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But according to the statement, Sirika noted that the reasons being bandied around for the suspension of the project, particularly the absence of interested and ready investors was not true, stressing that “the national carrier project has an avalanche of well-grounded and ready investors.”

The aviation minister added that, the investors “include international finance institutions such as the Afro-Exim Bank, African Development Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, aircraft manufacturers – Airbus and Boeing, airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Air etc. and some reputable individuals and entrepreneurs.

“The office also wants to clarify that the country’s participation at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in July was not for the sole purpose of unveiling the Nigeria Air logo as the public is being made to understand.

“It was also a meeting point with these potential investors who saw the event as another opportunity to market and re-emphasize their interests in the project.

“It is also pertinent to clarify that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) only suspended the process for the establishment of the national carrier for the time being.

Although, Sirika was last week reported to have announced the decision of the FEC to suspend the project for “strategic reasons”.

He however did not give further details for the suspension in the statement, but simply said “the project has not been killed.”


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