The static display of an aircraft in the fleet of the Nigeria Air last week has continued to generate controversy, as indigenous operators have accused the former minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, of a dangerous plot to kill the entire indigenous operators and handover monopoly to Ethiopian Airlines.
In a statement by the public relations officer, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Dr Obiora Okonkwo, stated that their action was borne out of the desire to save their investments in the aviation industry,
He said, “AON really cares less about the ownership of Nigeria Air if the intentions are genuine and for the common good with strict compliance with the due process. After all, Ethiopian Airline is already operating multiple landing rights in Nigeria, British Airways are owned by IAG, a company registered in Spain but owned by Qatar as the major shareholder.
“The Canadian government owns less than 7% of Air Canada’s National carrier. Takatso, a Pan-African consortium, recently took over South Africa Airways, all we are saying is let the right thing be done the right way, for strictly the interest of Nigeria and her Aviation industry,” he said.
“We discovered some mind burgling dangerous agenda to kill the entire indigenous operators and handover monopoly to Ethiopian Airline in a dubious and fraudulent way against the economic interest of Nigeria, hence our court action supported by strong material evidence.
“For us, it is a patriotic action to save the Nigerian Government, people and economy from exploitation and to also protect the Nigerian aviation sector and our investments.” However, the former aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, had denied the allegation saying the project was in good faith and was done in the good interest of the country.
He said the project is private sector driven and one that the government has minority stakes, and in tandem with global best practices. Sirika who had recently said he invited Nigerian carriers to own stakes in the new airline, said the action was rebuffed because of the selfish interest of the carriers.
He further stated that he sold the idea to them in many of the meetings he held with them by giving them the option of first refusal in a deal in that they would have owned stakes, hinting that his ministry followed all the rules in the setting up of the airline.