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We suspended national carrier in Nigerians’ interest – FGW

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…Says US, France, others ready to invest

Minister of State Aviation, Senator Hardi Sirika, has explained that the reason behind the suspension of the new national carrier, (Nigeria Air) was to give Nigerians opportunity to also benefit by partnering in the project even as he disclosed that the governments of the United States, France, African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank are among the top investors on ground who are ready to support with the needed funds to kickstart the project.

Speaking at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum in Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, dismissed the claims that the project was suspended due to lack of investors.

Sirika went further to explain that US-EXIM bank had indicated interest in providing the needed fund to embark on the project but for a little constrain in the number of their board members who was less by one person which resulted in the approval of only $10 million.

“There was fake news that we suspended the process because there was no investor. That is not true. Already IDB, AfDB, AFREXIM, US-EXIM, Standard Chartered Bank, Boeing, Airbus, COMAC/CCECC, BOAD, China-Exim, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Deutche Infrastructure Finance, all of them, including the governments of France and US, have written us to say they are committed to this project, that they want to donate and partner.

“And you know why? It is because they want to export their markets. They want to sell their aircraft. And this is because we don’t have and we can’t produce aircraft. So their (US and France) governments have the responsibility to promote their businesses and that is why they wrote to us that they want to partner. So we have investors.

“We could have run with that because we had a lot of investors showing interest in the Nigerian Air project but we wanted Nigerians to also benefit and partner in the project. We will soon advertised in the dailies so Nigerians should get their bank account ready so that they can partner in the Nigeria Air project” he said

He also added that renowned brands in the aviation industry, Airbus and Boeing were willing to support the project with 30 Aircraft, 15 for start and another 15 subsequently, but they requested for a sovereign shoulder to assure them that their investment was safe.

Furthermore, the minister took time to explain the reason why its first Transaction Adviser was changed noting that it was due to its outrageous demands which included opening an escrow account, refusal to pay tax and demand for 75 per cent upfront payment as against the romour which was been circulated in part of the media.

While reiterating the FG’s determination to continue with the procurement phase in line with ICRC guidelines, obtain FEC approval on the FBC and Proceed to Financial closure, he insisted that no foreign company was paid $600,000 for the design of the logo of the Nigeria Air as speculated.

He maintained that apart from commitments in respect of transaction advisory services, branding and participation at Farnborough Air show, no other expenditure has been incurred on the Nigeria Air Project.

“It is not true that transaction advisers for the project were done in a hush- hush as they advertised the bid process in Nigerian dailies and also in the federal adding they also extended the date by two weeks, so we did not appoint out friends.

“Due process was followed in the branding, which included obtaining ‘’No Objection’’ Certificate with Ref. No.BPP/RPT/18/VOL.1/075 from the Bureau of Public Procurement for the sum of N50,893,000.00. Payment for these services is yet to be made.

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