Nigeria’s outgoing Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has explained that the Nigeria Air project was suspended because members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) were divided on the modalities for its establishment.
According to Amaechi, some FEC members believe that the Federal Government should invest in the project and then sell the equity later, just as there are those who believe that the Federal Government should get investors in and give them the franchise of Nigeria Air.
The Minister, who recently addressed journalists in Abuja during his valedictory press briefing, also used the occasion to stress that the national carrier project has not been abandoned.
“ON NATIONAL CARRIER, (THE) CABINET IS DIVIDED ON THE ISSUE OF MODALITY. THERE ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD INVEST AND THEN WE CAN SELL THE EQUITY LATER.
“THERE ARE ALSO THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT NO, AND FROM DAY ONE THEY SAY LET US GET INVESTORS IN AND GIVE THEM THE FRANCHISE OF NIGERIA AIRWAYS OR AIR NIGERIA OR WHATEVER IT IS CALLED. THAT IS WHERE WE ARE AND THAT IS WHAT HELD IT DOWN. BUT AS FOR WHETHER IT IS STILL IN OUR PLAN, IT IS AND HAS NOT BEEN ABANDONED.”
The Backstory: Recall that in July 2019, the Nigerian Government unveiled the much-awaited new national carrier during the Farnborough Air Show in London.
But barely two months afterwards, September 19th to be precise, the Minister of State for Aviation announced via Twitter that the Government had regretfully suspended the planned takeoff of the state-owned airline company.
As expected, this elicited lots of reactions from Nigerians many of whom were disappointed that the Government could not even get around owning a national carrier.
In the meantime, countries like Ethiopia, Egypt, and Kenya have continued to set the pace in the African aviation sector.