FG suspends ‘fraudulent’ Nigeria Air indefinitely

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has declared the indefinite suspension of the Nigeria Air project, saying it was nothing short of Ethiopian Airlines aiming to fly the Nigerian national flag.
Nigeria Air... another year without the national carrier
Nigeria Air

• Insists on concession of five int’l airports 
Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has declared the indefinite suspension of the Nigeria Air project, saying it was nothing short of Ethiopian Airlines aiming to fly the Nigerian national flag.
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The announcement is coming amid a report indicating that at least N85.42 billion was budgeted for the national carrier in seven years.

A breakdown showed that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, in 2019, budgeted N47 billion, and between 2020 and 2022, an additional N14.6 billion was voted for the project, while yet another N24 billion was captured in the 2023 budget for the carrier that has nothing to show for the votes.

The former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, had earlier refuted the claims, insisting that less than N3 billion was released for the controversial project.

Keyamo, while speaking at a ministerial briefing yesterday in Abuja, said there was nothing like Nigeria Air, “it was only painted as Nigeria Air”.

In the place of a national carrier, he wondered why they did not allow indigenous airlines to fly the carrier, and why bring a foreign airline to fly the national flag.

He said: “Nobody should deceive us that it is Nigeria Air. Nigeria Air should be indigenous; it should be wholly Nigeria. It must be for the full benefit of Nigeria not that 60 per cent of the profit is going to another country. How does that benefit Nigeria? It remains suspended, it remains so.”

Responding to a question on the poor state of Nigerian airports, the minister declared that they would start the concession of five major international airports all over again, adding this time around they would ensure transparency.

While recalling that the airport concession project was kick-started by the previous administration, he said Nigerians have agreed that given the bureaucratic nature of government, public infrastructures cannot be run by the government, hence the need to break the bureaucracy to make the public utilities function well.
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His words: “While we try to manage what we met on the ground, you will still see the problem. Until we do a full concession, and they are run professionally as private businesses, we are going to have these problems. That is what we are doing.

“The President has asked us to go for the best in the world in terms of airport management. We are going to make the process very transparent. We carry along the National Assembly, and the aviation unions to make sure their interests are protected.”

Speaking on the increasing menace of touts at the nation’s airports, Keyamo identified two types of touts at the gateways – the official and unofficial. “Before you meet the touts outside, you will meet those inside too. We have seen disgraceful videos on social media.”

He disclosed that the ministry was working with the interior ministry and the National Security Adviser to reduce human contact at the airport, such that the officers are behind a glass door somewhere and only come out when they suspect something.
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