Two weeks after Ethiopian Airlines disclosed its readiness to become Nigeria’s national carrier, Hadi Sirika, the immediate past Minister of State for Aviation, has reiterated his commitment to ensure that Nigeria has it’s own flag carrier.
Sirika, who is among President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees, has vowed that if confirmed and reappointed for a second term, he would see to the establishment of a national carrier.
“Should Mr. President deem it fit that I go to transportation in order to oversee aviation, if that is his wish, I will continue with that good job.
“I believe that having a very vibrant private sector-led national carrier is good for the economy of Nigeria. It is good for the population of Nigeria; it is also good for the centrality of Nigeria; it is good for the wealth and fortune of Nigeria.
“One airplane in Nigeria is equal to 300 direct jobs to start with. The relationship between the Gross Domestic Product and air transportation is direct and we have the biggest GDP in Africa. By the United States’ estimation, we are a trillion-dollar GDP, and by official figures of the National Bureau of Statistics, we are half a trillion-dollar GDP.”
While answering questions on the floor of the Senate, Sirika added that, “We are at the centre of the world. We are highly mobile traveling people and this is why the prices of tickets are expensive. It is because we don’t have an alternative. We cannot match them. Whatever they give, we have to take. It is capitalism; we cannot run away from it.
“If it is me or whoever is the minister, I think that this is a priority we will take, thank God a lot of jobs has been done.”
The desire of Ethiopian Airlines to become Nigeria’s national carrier was disclosed by the company’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde Gebremariam, who was recently in Nigeria to continue talks regarding the national carrier.
“We are discussing at all levels. We are also discussing with private carriers, local carriers in Nigeria and the government but we are making it abundantly clear that we want to start a new one because starting from a clean slate or paper is advantageous because we won’t have any legacy or baggage to carry.”