Home Politics FG Suspends Nigerian Air Project Indefinitely, Says Not Beneficial to Nigerians

FG Suspends Nigerian Air Project Indefinitely, Says Not Beneficial to Nigerians

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By Uche Amunike

The federal government of Nigeria has suspended the Nigeria Air project, which was unveiled by ex-President Muhammadu Buhari shortly before he left office.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development , Mr. Festus Keyamo, Monday, as he clarified that the national carrier, which was meant to be an indigenous project that would spark hope for Nigerians, rather became shrouded by a lot of secrecy and fraudulent activities.

Speaking, while addressing newsmen, during the second day of the Ministerial Sectorial update in Abuja, Keyamo described the Nigerian project as anti-Nigeria and maintained that it remains suspended. He explained that it was never Nigeria Air, but rather, Ethiopia trying to fly the Nigerian flag. His words: ‘It was never Air Nigeria, it was Ethiopian trying to fly our flag. It was not Air Nigeria. That is the truth. It was not Nigeria. It only printed Air Nigeria.’

‘It was an Ethiopian airline trying to fly our flag. If it is so, why not allow our local people to fly our flag? Why bring a foreigner to fly our flag?’

‘So nobody should deceive you that Air Nigeria must be indigenous, must be wholly Nigeria or must be for the full benefit of Nigerians. Note that 60 per cent of the profit is given to another country. How does that benefit us? It remains suspended. It remains so,’ he said.

The minister also talked about the efforts that they have made so far, to boost activities in the aviation sector. He mentioned the kick off of cargo flights, which, he said, will enable Nigeria to tap into the $6 trillion global cargo market. Hear him: ‘We have agreed that we’re going to resume cargo flights between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. This has been suspended for a long time but now cargo flights are back.’

‘Guess what? Air cargo trade accounts for 35 per cent of the world trade deficit and air cargo trade according to the International Air Transport Association, IATA attracts about $6 trillion annually and we’re missing you know, within that sector we were missing in many routes around the world and we have achieved that.’

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also spoke about his achievements, noting that all trapped funds of foreign airlines have been cleared. Hear him: ‘We all know this issue was the issue of trapped funds of the international airlines. Their funds were trapped here because of lack of liquidity on the part of Nigeria because of so many subsidies we pay with our foreign earnings.’

‘Also, foreign airlines were threatening to stop operating in Nigeria. Now, I must give credit to all those in the financial sector for this. We had to work closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Minister of Finance.’

‘We had to work closely with all of the ministers in the financial sector and by our persistence we are happy to announce that we have cleared all the trapped funds.’

He also pointed out that the problems surrounding the second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja were solved within two weeks of his appointment, promising, improved capacity and operational efficiency. His words: ‘The issue of the Abuja airport second runway has been there since Obasanjo administration, as a SAN, I had to deploy my expertise to resolve this imbroglio.’

‘Imagine we are holding a world conference of various Heads of Government, and something happened at the only runway we have, do we cancel the event? So, the project is currently ongoing after meeting with the settlers.’

 

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