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Senate berates Hadi Sirika for ‘hurriedly’ unveiling Ethiopia Airlines plane as Nigeria Air

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The Nigerian Senate has berated Hadi Sirika, former aviation minister, over what it described as unnecessary controversy generated by the last minute unveiling of Ethiopia Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 series aircraft which the Federal Government flew into Abuja for unveiling of Nigeria Air.

The Committee on Aviation, led by Senator Biodun Olujimi, Ekiti South, frowned at the action of the government during a meeting among the committee, officials of the Ministry of Aviation and other stakeholders in the aviation industry

The senate wondered why the government should hurriedly unveil Air Nigeria when the necessary ground works had not been done.

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Specifically, Senator Olujimi expressed the committee’s disgust at the entire formation process of the proposed carrier, saying it was shrouded in suspicion.

The committee listed the problems to include the controversy over trapped aviation fund; purchase of fire trucks at very exorbitant cost; ignoring concerns raised by unions and Nigerian operators in the sector in preference for Ethiopian Airlines as the preferred bidder.

It described the assertion by Sirika, to Nigerians that the aircraft was Air Nigeria plane and that four others were expected as mere propaganda to raise the hope of Nigerians.

The committee acknowledged that Air Nigeria was a good concept but regretted that Nigerians were not out for gimmicks, asking aviation ministry officials “go and wash clean”.

Meanwhile, atempts by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, to explain that Air Nigeria was a Public Private Partnership, PPP, project and that it did not assuage anger of members of the committee

Dr. Meribole, who noted that he was hearing most of the concerns raised by the committee for the first time, said the unveiling was to see Nigerian logo on an aircraft, which he said became necessary to “counter negative publicity on social media.”

Answering questions from the senators, the Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Dayo Olumide, noted that the aircraft was chartered from Ethiopia for a few days, adding that while Air Nigeria was launched in 2018, his responsibility was to secure operating certificate for the airline, Vanguard reported.

Olumide said: “It is a pleasure to be here and to finally make our position known where I can clarify all the misconceptions regarding Nigeria Air as it pertains to the technical aspects of it.

“As you know, this airline was launched in… and the logo in 2018. Several things have transpired since then that have nothing to do with me.

“I was invited last February, my mandate is to secure an air operating certificate for the airline, not necessarily to operate it but to secure a licence to fly. And that is entirely my responsibility.”

 

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