CEM REPORT, AVIATION | Former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, has disclosed that Nigeria did not pay for or charter a plane to display the success of the Nigerian Air Project.
This was as he noted that the federal government disbursed ₦3 billion in 7 years for the national air carrier project
Reacting to the call for his arrest and investigation into the Nigerian Air Project, Sirika said the aircraft showcased was brought in by Ethiopian Airlines as a marketing strategy.
He disclosed this during an interview on Arise TV.
“The AOC owned by Ethiopian Airline is known to Nigeria and the NCAA, they are permitted to come in either with scheduled passengers, chattered or cargo. They have to come in under one of the three. So, they came as chartered. Being chartered does not mean that anybody paid for anything. The government did not pay a dime for that aircraft to come in.
“Secondly, there was no revenue passenger in the aircraft because that would have been totally against the law and wouldn’t have been allowed. It was their own marketing strategy as equity partners. They came to do this unveiling on a special allowance called chartered and it does not mean that we paid for it. If anybody was to pay for it, it would have been the Ethiopian Airline, not the Nigerian government. No penny was paid.”
Speaking on the budgeted cost for the project, Sirika said the total fund budgeted for the Nigeria Air project stood at ₦5 billion as against the reports of ₦85 billion.
He explained that of the budgeted amount the federal government had disbursed ₦3 billion in 7 years.
“The total amount approved and budgeted for Nigeria Air from 2016 to 2023 is ₦5 billion. However, only about ₦3 billion—rather than ₦85 billion—was released, and as of the time I left the government, not all of that sum had been used.
“The funds were only used to pay for salaries, the AOC procedures, special advisory services, consultative services, and the upkeep of the Abuja office.
“My office did not award any contracts; instead, the money was used for these purposes. And there is the Freedom of Information Act, people can apply and get all the information about what the money has been used for. The ₦85 billion being mentioned is only in the imagination of the people carrying it about.”