The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has disclosed that there are plans to continue with the establishment of Nigeria Air.
According to the Minister, the Federal Government has earmarked N47 billion to ensure the completion of the project. However, the project’s takeoff is currently being delayed by disagreement among FEC members over modality issue, as well as and the uncertainty occasioned by impending cabinet reshuffling.
Disagreement among FEC: Mr Amaechi disclosed that there has been internal disagreement between members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) over the best way to implement the project. This, he said, has been frustrating the continuation of the Nigeria Air project.
Apparently, some members of the Federal Executive Council suggested that the project should be 100% private-owned, while the others want the Government to make some investments towards the establishment of the national carrier.
“On the national carrier, the cabinet is divided on the issue of modality. There are those who believe that the Federal Government should invest and then we can sell the equity later.” -Amaechi
Meanwhile, commenting on the matter, the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had demanded that Viability Gap Funding should come from the 2019 budget which the Senate passed in April 2019 and was assented to by President Buhari earlier today.
“President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for the project be provided for in the 2019 Appropriation; which the National Assembly has graciously done.”-Sirika
The VGF is $155 million or about N47.43 billion at N306/$1 official exchange rate at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rate.
What this means: It shows the project was not a fraud after all, unlike previous belief that the project was introduced to embezzle public funds. Earmarking N47.43 billion in the 2019 budget proves the government is committed to ensuring the project is completed.
What’s the impact: Nigeria for years have been without a national carrier, leaving Nigerians to the mercy of the private airline operators, but the establishment of Nigeria Air will create new competition in the airline sector, as the national air carrier is expected to offer cheaper flight services; thereby, igniting a price war amidst private airline operator.
For your consideration: Note that the alleged disagreement might delay the establishment of the national carrier. Moreover, President Buhari is expected to reshuffle his cabinet members after his second term begins in June. If this happens, the possibility of new people taking over key positions could mean a further delay for the project.