Saturday 22 September 2018

Why FG Suspended Nigeria Air Project

The source, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said Nigeria's delay in providing the funds might have sent the wrong signal to investors who began to back down.
Details have emerged on why the Federal Government suspended plan to establish a national carrier named Nigeria Air.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had on Wednesday announced the indefinite suspension of Nigeria Air without giving reasons.

However, impeccable sources in the Ministry of Aviation told Saturday PUNCH that the Federal Government was not able to provide the $155m which it needed to make available as part of its seed funding.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said Nigeria’s delay in providing the funds might have sent the wrong signal to investors who began to back down.

He also said the matter was only stepped down and could be revisited should things change.

The official said, “The matter was brought before the President at the FEC meeting and it was put on hold. When a matter is brought before council, it is either rejected or passed or the President can say the matter should be stepped down to allow for further consultations and that was what happened. It has not been jettisoned.

“There was a debate at FEC and expectedly there were differences in opinion. The main cause of the argument was in the legality of the funding. We were asked to get investors and some people were already showing interest but they were waiting to see seriousness on the part of the government.

“They wanted the government to lead the way in putting down the first sum but when the government was not willing to put down its own seed funding, investors began to shy away.

“The initial funding that Nigeria was expected to make available between now and the end of 2019 was about $155m.”

Announcing the indefinite suspension of the plan to establish national carrier, Sirika on his Twitter handle, @hadisirika, tweeted: "I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always.”

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