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Nigeria Air: Fresh Controversy As Documents Show Sirika Lied On Live TV

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Nigeria Air: Sirika Lied On Live TV, Documents show

 

The controversy surrounding Nigeria Air, the national airline that was ostensibly unveiled at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, shows no sign of abating.

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Senator Hadi Sirika, the ex-minister of aviation, unveiled the name and logo of Nigeria Air at the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2018, promising that operations would begin within five months.

 

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Sirika stated at the time that the airline would operate on 81 domestic, regional, and international routes.

 

Two months later, however, the Federal Government halted the project, citing a difficult decision.

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Given the publicity and money spent on the project, the public continued to ask questions about it.

 

The former minister repeatedly reassured Nigerians that the project would commence, eventually revealing the fleet’s planned aircraft.

 

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On May 26, 2023, under Sirika’s direction, the ministry organised a programme for the unveiling of Nigeria Air.

 

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At the event held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the minister expressed his satisfaction that the Federal Government had put its words into action with regard to the project.

 

After the event, there was a backlash, particularly regarding the Ethiopian Airlines plane that was used for the unveiling.

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Sirika cleared the air and addressed multiple issues in an ARISE Television interview, whereas the ministry had avoided commenting on multiple issues raised.

 

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However, the former minister denied the involvement of the aviation ministry in the unveiling, placing the responsibility at the feet of Ethiopian Airlines, which holds 49 percent of the project’s shares.

 

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“As part of their marketing strategy, Nigeria Air’s owners, a consortium of the federal government (five percent), decided to conduct the unveiling. Therefore, the government was not responsible for announcing the launch of operations. No, not at all. They did it, and I was invited,” Sirika stated on the live television show.

 

Several publicly available documents, however, revealed that the unveiling was organised by the Ministry of Aviation.

 

The ministry issued an invitation letter to invite guests to the launch.

 

The letter of invitation stated, “The Federal Ministry of Aviation cordially requests your presence at the official unveiling of Nigeria Air.”

 

Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport’s Nigeria Air Operations Control Centre was designated as the venue for the unveiling.

 

In addition, according to the schedule, the permanent secretary of the ministry delivered the welcome address, followed by messages of goodwill from the chairs of the Senate and House of Representatives committees on aviation.

 

According to the event’s schedule, the next speaker was the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, while the minister unveiled the aircraft.

 

Several stakeholders in the aviation industry who spoke with our correspondent confirmed that they had received an invitation from the ministry.

 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Ejes Gist Media Limited. For any rights infringements or takedown requests, please contact us at [email protected].
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