June 6, 2023

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FG drops NIGERIA AIR as the proposed National Carrier

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Capt. Hadi Abubakar Sirika, Minister of Aviation, at one of the fora to sell Nigeria Air to international community, 2018.

As the good people of the most populous black nation in the world seem losing hope in the much touted national carrier, the Aviation Minister, Capt. Hadi Abubakar Sirika, has reassured the flying public and by extension, the entire citizenry that the national carrier project will still see the light of day but with a slightly unusual re-structuring.

The Minister affirmed that there was no debate on whether the nation deserves a national carrier or not, as it was the consensus that Nigeria should have one.

Hadi Sirika, therefore, disclosed that the much spoken about national carrier proposed structure would be slightly tinkered with, as “the airline may not be branded with the country’s name but shall be able to do something close to what Ethiopian Airlines is doing”, he said

Minister of Aviation, Capt. Hadi Sirika, made these clarifications at a webinar organized by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

On the other thorny issue which the aviation workers’ unions’ have severally queried; the $500m Chinese loan for the construction of a terminal in Lagos, and the N1bn loan for airport refurbishment, the Minister said those loans had all been taken before the decision by the present government to concession the four (4) international airports was taken. 

He said, “Currently, we borrowed about N1bn from the Chinese to put into our four airports. If we were to have made the decision at the time, we would not have borrowed money to put into the airport”.

Sirika explained that, if the present government were to be involved in the loan deal abinitio, “We would have ‘concessioned’ the airports and used other peoples’ money to achieve what we want and get a better deal in the end”.

He said the concession program was not limited to the four international airports namely, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano and Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt, but with time, it would be extended to all the other airports owned by the Federal Government.

 Capt. Hadi Sirika reiterated for the umpteenth time that, “the current government is social democratic in nature”.

He enthused, “we will not be selling public assets. They belong to the people. We will concession them and get them back at a later date and re-concession them and get them back. It makes more sense for us to get people whose business is to run the airports”, he said.

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