Suspension Of Nigeria Air Not Politically Motivated, Says Hadi Sirika
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said the suspension of the national carrier project, Nigeria Air, which was scheduled to commence operations in December, is not “politically motivated.”
Sirika, who disclosed this in Abuja, after meeting with the President, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Mr. Pereri Taalas, stated that those saying the suspension was politically motivated are being very unfair to the president.
According to him, it was the intention of government to be able to set up a carrier that would deliver service to the Nigerian people, however the decision to suspend the airline project was strategic and has nothing to do with politics and pressure from stakeholders.
He explained that the decision had nothing to do with the pressure from stakeholders because, “We have explained as a government that for 40 years since 1978 to 1980 when decision was made to liberalise the sector, we saw the coming of Okada, Aero, ADC, Bellview; we have seen their coming and their exit and right now, we have got Medview, Air Peace, Arik; we have got all of these people with permission to go international.”
Sirika, when pressed further to state the reasons for the suspension of the project, said, “We have given them Banjul, Dubai, London, South Africa and everywhere. Of course none of them is meeting the need by Nigerian people to have robust national carrier and that is to say that something is amiss.
“Prices of tickets are astronomical within international routes and certain routes in Nigeria that ought to be developed are not developed. In the past, Nigerian Airways was doing Makurdi, Sokoto, Calabar, Maiduguri with DC10 and full.
“So, this absence, this gap is there. With all the number of airlines flying the country, this sudden growth to 20 airplanes, we have seen it in Okada, Kabo, Arik and many others but the service is not being delivered. So there is no argument from stakeholders to say we should not proceed, no.”
On how the international stakeholders would perceive the decision, he said, “Since there is lot of international engagements and banks, consulting companies and all and how do they believe in us that we are serious again in future.
“I believe it is very clear and they know we are serious. The amount of time and resources spent in the last two and half years trying to get to the end of this procurement speaks for us and also the viability of the project especially the Outline Business Case that has been developed has shown to the world that this is a serious venture and this is serious government and we are serious to do it and since I said it is strategic, it is part of the strategy. Whenever we come back, our government or a future government to do it, I am sure the international community will believe in us and will believe as to the reasons which would advance the reasons to suspend it for now.”