The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, has denied asking for a five per cent equity in Nigeria Air.
The lawmaker, who represents Nkanu West/Nkanu East Federal Constituency, (PDP) described the former minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika as 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.”
Reacting to Sirika’s allegations, Nnaji in a statement on Sunday, said the former minister was unhappy that he had demanded transparency and due process in all matters concerning the aviation sector, particularly the Nigeria Air project. He added that the House suspended further questions when the Airline Operators of Nigeria draged the Ministry and Nigeria Air to court and got an injunction to stop it.
Nnaji said, “Ordinarily, l would not have bothered to reply to his allegations of my demand for 5 per cent equity in Nigeria Air as he claimed during his interview on Arise Television, but l believe I owe my constituents and indeed Nigerians a duty to put the records straight.
“It is on record that last year when the Minister announced Ethiopian Airlines as a core investor in Nigeria Air, my committee which was also inundated with petitions from various stakeholders regarding that announcement invited the Minister and his team to furnish the committee with the details of the project.
“The committee requested the evidence of the bid process that gave Ethiopian Airlines the award and, the full business case as prepared by the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), which was supposed to spell out the details of all the investors and their equity contributions.
“Sirika at that meeting said Full Business Case was still being worked out by the ICRC and promised to make it available to the committee as soon it was ready which he failed to do before Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON) took the Ministry to court and got injunction restraining it from going ahead with the project.”
The lawmaker, who said all enquiries were suspended to avoid court contempt, added that he crossed Sirika’s path again when he issued a statement against threats of mass resignations by key personnel of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority due to pressures from the ministry to give waivers to Nigeria Air to enable it to secure Air Operator’s Certificate.
“Of course, we suspended our discussions and enquiries on the project the moment the court got involved. Normally when a matter is before the court the parliament does not discuss it.
“However, on May 20th, 2023, l received reports of threats of mass resignations by key personnel of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), due to pressures from the Ministry to give waivers to Nigeria Air to enable it to secure Air Operator’s Certificate, (AOC) so that it could take off before the exit of the last administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I quickly issued a statement warning the former Minister against subverting the authority of NCAA because of its severe consequences on Nigeria’s air transport sector. It is also common knowledge that the Nigerian institutional investors he mentioned as participants have all denied him.
“It is not strange that Sirika came up with this spurious allegation against my person because l remained consistent in demanding that he followed due process. He should not deviate from the subject matter. Let him tell Nigerians the truth about the contraption he sold to us as Nigeria Air. Nnolim Nnaji is not his problem,” Nnaji added.