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Hadi Sirika: House of Rep Chairman Requested 5% Shares of Nigeria Air

Former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has made allegations against Nnolim Nnaji, Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, claiming that Nnaji requested a five percent stake in Nigeria Air. Sirika revealed this information during an interview on Arise TV/Thisdaylive, stating that after the bidding process for Nigeria Air, Nnaji contacted him and made the request. However, Sirika explained to Nnaji that the shares were determined through the bidding process, and if he wanted a stake in the airline, he would need to purchase shares from the existing shareholders.It should be noted that last week, the House of Representatives criticized the supposed launch of Nigeria Air on May 26, 2023, asserting that Sirika and other proponents were attempting to deceive the nation. Nnaji had also denounced the launch, labeling it as fraudulent.During the interview, Sirika addressed the allegations regarding the budgetary allocations and expenditure on the national carrier. He contradicted the data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which claimed that ₦85 billion had been spent on the airline over an eight-year period. According to Sirika, only ₦3 billion had been released and spent thus far, primarily on transaction advisory, salaries, office setup in Abuja, consultancy services, and the Air Operating Certificate (AOC) processes.Sirika clarified that Nigeria Air is predominantly a private sector-driven venture, with Ethiopian Airlines holding a 49 percent stake, SAHCO owning 15 percent, other investors accounting for 31 percent, and the federal government holding just five percent. He emphasized that Ethiopian Airlines, as the primary investor, would invest $200 million, representing 49 percent of the project’s funding.Addressing the airline’s launch, Sirika explained that Ethiopian Airlines had chosen to unveil Nigeria Air as part of its marketing strategy and did not want to wait for the AOC issuance. He mentioned that he was unaware of why SAHCO, one of the investors, was not invited to the unveiling, but he himself was invited as a guest by the airline’s owners.Sirika further clarified that the federal government did not provide any financial support to Ethiopian Airlines for bringing in the aircraft or branding it. The airline operated Nigeria Air as a chartered flight, scheduled flight, or cargo flight, as permitted by law. Ethiopian Airlines retrieved the aircraft following the unveiling, as the AOC was not yet ready. Sirika emphasized that the airline would commence operations once the AOC was secured, and any notion of the federal government paying for the aircraft was entirely false.


Ademola Adeyemi

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