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Business News of Wednesday, 7 June 2023


Report shows FG spends over N85bn on 'failed' Nigeria Air takeoff, management disagrees

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Nigeria under Muhammadu Buhari's administration, spent a staggering sum of over N85 billion on Nigeria Air, the controversial national carrier, over an eight-year period.

This is according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Compilation of Budgetary Allocations, between 2016 and 2023, BusinessDay reports.

The report shows that the federal government allocated the N85.42 billion to transaction advisers, working capital, and consultancy bills for Nigeria Air.

Despite this huge splurge on the project, the national carrier was not able to fully take off as it failed to secure an Air Operating Certificate, which is a crucial approval granted by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority to operators for commercial flight operations. also reported that Nigeria was forced to quickly rent an airline from Ethiopian Airlines for the unveiling, as there was no single aircraft available for its operations.

Lawmakers call Nigeria Air fraud

The revelation of Nigeria Air's failure has prompted the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation to call for a suspension of the establishment of the national carrier.

The committee members also demanded the prosecution of those involved in the unveiling of Nigeria Air during the previous administration, denouncing the exercise as a fraudulent endeavor.

Nigeria Air management defends project

Defending the Nigeria Air project, Emmanuel Meribole, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, disagrees that over 85 billion was spent.

Explaining to lawmakers, he noted that the total expenditure was not more than N3.8 billion while clarifying that the unveiling event conducted by the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, was not an official launch but rather a display of "aspiration."

Meribole added that the ministry did not incur any expenses related to the event, Punch reports.

His words: "We are currently in the progress of completing the necessary procedures, and an AOC (Air Operator's Certificate) has not yet been acquired, which means our official launch has not taken place. However, we are actively engaged in the ongoing processes.

"To the best of my understanding, from 2017 until now, our expenditure does not exceed N3.8 billion, which aligns with the allocated appropriation funds.

"It is important to note that no funds were approved or utilized by the ministry for the unveiling. The unveiling event was organized as an "aspirational" initiative to provide people with an opportunity to observe our operations."

Also, Dapo Olumide, the Interim Managing Director of Nigeria Air, who appeared before the lawmakers' investigation committee, noted that the aircraft showcased during the "unveiling" belonged to Ethiopian Airlines and was merely chartered for a 48-hour period.

Olumide emphasised that the event was not an official launch as tickets were not being sold at that time.