The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Friday said the Federal Executive Council was not divided over the mode of implementation of the national carrier project called Nigeria Air.
Sirika said he believed that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was misquoted in media reports that quoted him (Amaechi) as saying that FEC was divided on the mode of implementation of the project.
Amaechi had stated at his valedictory press briefing in Abuja on Thursday that members of the federal cabinet had different beliefs and positions as regards the establishment of a national carrier for Nigeria, but was quick to state that the project had not been abandoned.
Amaechi said, “On national carrier, (the) cabinet is divided on the issue of modality. There are those who believe that the Federal Government should invest and then we can sell the equity later.
“There are also those who believe that no, and from day one they say let us get investors in and give them the franchise of Nigeria Airways or Air Nigeria or whatever it’s called. That is where we are and that is what held it down. But as for whether it is still in our plan, it is and has not been abandoned.”
But a statement issued on Friday by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs at the Aviation arm of Ministry of Transportation, James Odaudu, stated that Amaechi must have been misquoted.
The statement read in part, “It is the belief of the Minister of State for Aviation that the Minister of Transportation was misquoted by the media in this respect, as the Federal Executive Council is one cohesive body that cannot be divided over any issue.”
According to Sirika, the Nigeria Air project had the full support of the council which deliberated on it and approved it.
He stated that consequently, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the Viability Gap Funding for the project be provided for in the 2019 Appropriation, adding that the National Assembly had graciously done that.
The aviation minister said he regretted the media mix-up and assured the general public, and, more importantly, the prospective partners and investors, that the Nigeria Air project was fully alive and on course.
In September 2018, The PUNCH reported that the suspension of the planned commencement of operations of Nigeria Air by the Federal Government.
Although no reason was given for the suspension at the time the project was suspended, it was gathered then that the national carrier initiative had been put on hold in the interim.