Following the widespread rumour that the Nigerian Government expended as much as $8.8 million (N1.2 billion) on the suspended Nigeria Air project, the Minister in charge of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, yesterday made efforts to refute the claims and set the record straight.
Senator Sirika, who made the refutation in Abuja during the 5th Aviation Stakeholders Forum, stressed that the reports were unfounded and malicious.
The Minister explained that so far, the Nigeria Air Project has gulped less than N100 million. He went further to state that parts of commitments made by the Government were spent for Transaction advisers and branding purposes.
“There is about N50 million and another N40 million expenditure. People have been saying that we spent $8.8m on the national carrier. Its unfounded, malicious, lazy work of some people who are not seeing anything good in what we are doing as government” he said.
“I have the duty to set the record straight. We have not spent N1.2bn. we have not spent $600,000 to create a logo.” -Sirika
The minister also used the occasion to speak on the actual state of the Nigeria Air, stressing that the project is just suspended for the meantime, not completely scrapped. According to him, the next course of action by the Government will be announced soon.
Recall that the Nigerian Government had in July 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 likes of Ethiopia, Egypt and Kenya continue to set the pace in the African aviation sector.