Sirika Speaks On Nigeria Air Unveiling, Says Project Gulped Only N3bn

Posted by Timige, On 11 Jun, 2023 | Updated On 11 Jun, 2023 No Comments »



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The immediate-past Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, Senator Hadi Sirika, on Sunday, disclosed that the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, did not pay for the chartered Ethiopian Airline plane unveiled as ‘Nigeria Air’.

Sirika, who disclosed this while speaking on the controversial project on Arise News Channel, on Sunday, said the aircraft was brought by Ethiopian Airlines to demonstrate commitment to the ‘Nigeria Air’ project.

The former minister, however, clarified that only N3billion was released for the Nigeria Air project, and the funds were spent on consultancy services and office maintenance.

He refuted the allegation of spending N85 billion on the project, emphasising that only N5billion was budgeted and not all of the N3 billion released was expended in the last seven years.

He further stated that the N3 billion had not been fully expended before he left the office on May 29.

According to Sirika, the total money budgeted for the project since 2018 was N5billion, out of which N3billion was disbursed.

“From 2016 to 2023, all of the money voted and budgeted for Nigeria Air is N5billion. But all that was released was in the neighborhood of N3billion, not N85 billion, and not all of the N3 billion has been expended as of the time I left office. What has been done with the money is nothing but to get special advisory services, the AOC processes, salaries, consultative services, and the maintenance of the office in Abuja.

“No contract was awarded by Hadi Sirika, these are the things the money was used for. And there is the Freedom of Information Act, people can apply and get all the information about what the money has been used for. The N85 billion being mentioned is only in the imagination of the people carrying it about.”

The ex-minister, however, admitted that the Ethiopian aircraft that was showcased as the success of the project was chartered.

“The AOC owned by Ethiopian Airline is known to Nigeria and the NCAA. They are permitted to come in either with scheduled passengers, chattered or cargo. They have to come in under one of the 3. So, they came as chartered. Being chartered does not mean that anybody paid for anything. The government did not pay a dime for that aircraft to come in.

“Secondly, there was no revenue passenger in the aircraft because that would have been totally against the law and wouldn’t have been allowed. It was their own marketing strategy as equity partners. They came to do this unveiling on a special allowance called chartered and it does not mean that we paid for it. If anybody was to pay for it, it would have been the Ethiopian Airline, not the Nigerian government. No penny was paid,” the former Minister added.

Source: Leadership

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