Report Shows FG Spends Over N85bn on ‘Failed’ Nigeria Air Takeoff, Management Disagrees Gives its Own Figure
Former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration spent over N85 billion on Nigeria Air, the national carrier, over an eight-year period.
Despite the significant investment, Nigeria Air failed to obtain an Air Operating Certificate (AOC) and secure any aircraft for its operations
The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has called for the suspension of Nigeria Air’s establishment and the prosecution of those involved, labeling the project as fraudulent
Nigeria under Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, spent a staggering sum of over N85 billion on Nigeria Air, the controversial national carrier, over an eight-year period.
This is according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Compilation of Budgetary Allocations, between 2016 and 2023, BusinessDay reports.
The report shows that the federal government allocated the N85.42 billion to transaction advisers, working capital, and consultancy bills for Nigeria Air.
Despite this huge splurge on the project, the national carrier was not able to fully take off as it failed to secure an Air Operating Certificate, which is a crucial approval granted by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority to operators for commercial flight operations.
Legit.ng also reported that Nigeria was forced to quickly rent an airline from Ethiopian Airlines for the unveiling, as there was no single aircraft available for its operations.
Lawmakers call Nigeria Air fraud
The revelation of Nigeria Air’s failure has prompted the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation to call for a suspension of the establishment of the national carrier.
The committee members also demanded the prosecution of those involved in the unveiling of Nigeria Air during the previous administration, denouncing the exercise as a fraudulent endeavor.
Nigeria Air management defends project
Defending the Nigeria Air project, Emmanuel Meribole, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation disagrees that over 85 billion was spent.
Explaining to lawmakers he noted that the total expenditure is not more than N3.8 billion while clarifying that the “unveiling” event conducted by the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, was not an official launch but rather a display of “aspiration.” Meribole added that the ministry did not incur any expenses related to the event, Punch reports.
“We are currently in the progress of completing the necessary procedures, and an AOC (Air Operator’s Certificate) has not yet been acquired, which means our official launch has not taken place.
However, we are actively engaged in the ongoing processes. “To the best of my understanding, from 2017 until now, our expenditure does not exceed N3.8 billion, which aligns with the allocated appropriation funds.
“It is important to note that no funds were approved or utilized by the ministry for the unveiling. The unveiling event was organized as an “aspirational” initiative to provide people with an opportunity to observe our operations.”
Also, Dapo Olumide, the Interim Managing Director of Nigeria Air, who appeared before the lawmakers’ investigation committee noted that the aircraft showcased during the “unveiling” belonged to Ethiopian Airlines and was merely chartered for a 48-hour period.
Olumide emphasized that the event was not an official launch as tickets were not being sold at that time.