Home » Africa: Nigeria Air distress deepens as former Aviation Minister accuses lawmaker of seeking 5% kickback, debunks N139b expenditure, says only N5b budgeted in 5yrs

Africa: Nigeria Air distress deepens as former Aviation Minister accuses lawmaker of seeking 5% kickback, debunks N139b expenditure, says only N5b budgeted in 5yrs

by Atqnews
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The drama surrounding the proposed carrier, Nigeria Air continues to fester with recent revelations by the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika that the Chairman, House Committee on Aviation Honourable Nnaji Nnolim demanded to have a 5% stake in the airline as part of the shareholders of the new carrier.

Sirika while speaking on a live television programme on Arise TV, said the ministry only received 3 billion naira out of the 5 billion naira budgeted as project cost for the carrier since 2018 as opposed to the 139 billion naira being reported in the media.

The House Committee Members had earlier branded the Nigeria Air launch project as a fraud during a hearing it held to investigate the allegations it received by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and other aviation bodies in the industry.

The former minister who stated that he was only invited to witness the unveiling of the airline said the reason why there is so much noise about Nigeria Air was because he had declined granting 5% requested by the Nnolim Nnaji, Chairman of the Aviation Committee.

READ: Africa: AON list implications of granting AOC to Nigeria Air without due process, praises Civil Aviation Authority for refusing to succumb to pressure from Minister

He said: ““On the issue of Hon Nnaji who called Nigeria Air launch a fraud, I will respond now. I will say exactly what I told him in private when we spoke.”

“Hon Nnaji asked me that I should give him 5% of Nigeria to carry him along with his people, and I said to him at that time, Honourable, a bidding process that has taken place, and some people won. So, I think you should go to those people and ask for the 5 percent.”

When the programme anchor asked the former Minister to clarify if the lawmaker indeed asked for bribe for himself and other legislators, Sirika said, “Let’s be fair, Hon Nnaji didn’t say other members. He said he wants it for himself and his people. His people could be his family, could be members and it could be leadership. I don’t know, but he insisted on 5%. I said that he should relax and approach the owners. That’s exactly what I told him.”

The former Minister also criticised Nnaji and the aviation committee for conducting what translated to a “predetermined hearing”.

‘I was a member of the House of Reps 20 years ago, and 10 years ago, I was a Senator. I know the workings of the National Assembly. He called for public hearing. And right under the public hearing, he just turned the paper and read the riot act.

“The practice in the National Assembly is that after hearing people and the complains, you now go and sit down as a committee, discuss the issues, raise them, approach the whole house of reps and take position of the house plus leadership and come back and make your findings known, but not immediately you just read the riot Act out. It means is pre-determined”, Sirika said during the programme.

But responding to the allegations by the former minister, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji denied asking Hadi Sirika for five per cent stake in Nigeria Air.

Nnaji described Sirika as a drowning man struggling to grab anything on his way to survive the fallout of the unveiling of the controversial national carrier project.
The lawmaker in a statement said that Sirika came up with the allegation because he had insisted that the ex-minister must follow due process.

According to him, the House suspended further questions when the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) took the Ministry and Nigeria Air to court and got injunction to stop it.

He said: “Sirika is a drowning man struggling to grab anything on his way to survive the barrage of attacks he has been receiving since his controversial unveiling ceremony of the so-called Nigeria Air.

“Ordinarily l would not have bothered to reply to his allegations of my demand for 5 percent equity in Nigeria Air as he claimed during his interview on Arise Television but l believe l owe my constituents and indeed Nigerians a duty to put the records straight.

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