The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has insisted that the National Carrier Project is still on course and has followed due process right from its inception.
He said there have been several misinformation, factual errors, insinuations and fabrications peddled in the social, electronic and print media on the Nigeria Air Project which were not true.
At the 6th stakeholders meeting in Lagos, the minister insisted that from the day the approval to commence the execution of the National Carrier Project by the President, processes embarked on in the actualization of the project were transparently implemented.
“The Ministry set up a Committee which came up with the modalities for the establishment of a National Carrier. The Committee in its Report submitted in September, 2015 recommended a private sector- led National Carrier with 10% Federal Government ownership and non-involvement of Government in the management of the airline but the provision of enabling environment for its operation”.
Giving further clarification, Sirika said, the estimated funding requirement for the establishment of the project was USD300million with initial start–up capital of USD55million for working capital including aircraft leases and deposit for new aircraft, working capital for 2019 USD 100 million and working capital for 2020 USD 145 million to be provided by the Strategic Equity Partners who are expected to manage the project.
He stated that, the project was adequately planned, there was due consultation of stakeholders, ensured transparency and no fictitious amounts was spent by Government on the project, as it was being alleged by people.
“The processes fully complied with the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and the ICRC Act, 2005, the Aviation Sector Roadmap was presented to Stakeholders for inputs and buy-in, a project implementation management structure comprising inter- ministerial Project Steering Team and Project Steering Committee were constituted to oversee project implementation, the appointment of Transaction Advisers followed due process culminating in Federal Executive Council Approval”.
According to Sirika, the speculation that $8.8 million was expended at the Farnborough Air show was unfounded and baseless, adding that as often the practice in such events, the services of a consultant was retained to arrange for its participation (hiring of exhibition booth, meeting venues, obtaining relevant passes for Ministry’s delegation, facilitating meetings with prospective investors).
He disclosed that due process was followed in retaining the services of the company and Certificate of “No Objection” Ref. No. BPP / RPT/ 18/ VOL 1/095 in the sum of N40, 219,769.20 were obtained and payment to the Consultant was yet to be paid.
“The name and livery of the National Carrier ‘’Nigeria Air‘‘ were obtained by engaging the general public through social media campaign, the TAs (Technical Advisers) for National Carrier coordinated the campaign and provided the additional services that included the development of the branding strategy and the media activities relating to the unveiling of the Airline in the sum of ₦50,893,000.00, payment for these services is yet to be made”.
“Due process was followed in design of the logo which included obtaining ‘’No Objection’’ Certificate with Ref. No. BPP/RPT/18/VOL.1/075 from the Bureau of Public Procurement; no foreign company was paid $600,000 for the design of the logo as speculated”.
The minister assured that, the Ministry was implementing the project in a very open and transparent manner in conjunction with relevant stakeholders and it was committed to doing more, adding that apart from commitments in respect of transaction advisory services, design of logo and participation at Farnborough Air show, no other expenditure had been incurred on the Nigeria Air Project.
On the way forward, he said, “the Ministry to restructure the financing arrangements in a manner acceptable to both Government and prospective investors for the take-off of the airline”.
“We are open to suggestions and contributions from stakeholders”, the minister concluded.