Nigeria Air launch scam: The Nigerian aviation industry has been a subject of concern for several years because of its poor performance, and Nigerians have long hoped for a game-changer. That was the hope with the announcement of the launch of Nigeria Air, a new national carrier that was meant to revamp the industry.
The managing Director of Nigerian Air, Captain Dayo Olamide has revealed that the unveiled Nigeria Aircraft launched in the last days of Former President Muhamadu Buhari was a chartered aircraft from Ethiopia with the Nigeria logo, hired to dazzle Nigerians about the last administration achievement. The hired aircraft has since been returned to Ethiopia.
He stated that the particular aircraft that was unveiled was not registered and flew into Nigeria with a few days’ clearance from Ethiopia and was returned immediately after use.
- The Chairman House Committee on Aviation declared the launch of Nigeria Air a fraud after the major stakeholders in the deal between the Federal Government and Ethiopian Airlines denied knowledge of the launch.
- Members of the committee were shocked when stakeholders in the Aviation sector disclosed that the aircraft bearing Nigerian colours was on a chartered flight to Nigeria.
- The committee also passed a resolution asking the federal government to suspend the operations of Nigeria Air.
Aircraft was a chartered flight
The Ministry of Aviation claimed Nigeria Air was only unveiled and not launched, which the committee dismissed as an attempt to divert the lawmakers’ attention.
Members of the committee were shocked when NAMA disclosed that the aircraft bearing Nigerian colours was on a chartered flight to Nigeria.
Other stakeholders who confirmed the disclosure noted that a chartered flight could be painted in any colour and with any inscription.
Findings of the Investigation
The MD stated that for Nigeria Air to get the required license, Nigeria must have three aircraft before the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority will give the country air license to fly and the three aircraft must be Nigeria-registered aircraft.
He further revealed that there are five phases or steps one goes through to get the license and Nigeria is still in phase one of the process. Nigeria is not at a point of operating the airline yet, as Nigeria Air does not have a terminal for international operations.
When he was asked about reports that the passengers on board bought tickets, the MD refuted the allegation and stated that the passengers on board were staff of Ethiopia airline that was brought in and at the end of the unveiling went back with their aircraft to Ethiopia.
Captain Olamide Dayo with relevant years of experience in Airline operations further confirmed that he was appointed in February 2022, to secure the air operating certificate for the airline to fly and not to operate the airline.
Evidence of the Scam
The evidence presented by the House of Reps Committee on Aviation strongly suggests that Nigeria Air may be a scam. The lack of transparency in the process, the absence of a feasibility study, and the violation of the Public trust, all point to a lack of seriousness on the part of the government. The lack of clarity on the source of funding also raises suspicions about the legitimacy of the project.
Furthermore, the announcement of the Nigeria Air launch was made without any concrete plans for the airline, including the routes it would operate, the type of aircraft it would use, and the personnel it would employ. This lack of detail suggests that the announcement was made without any serious consideration of the feasibility of the project.
Analysis of the Scam
The Nigeria Air scam is a reflection of systemic corruption and lack of accountability in the Nigerian government. The lack of transparency in the procurement process is a common feature of Nigerian government contracts, and this has led to several failed projects in the past. The absence of a feasibility study for Nigeria Air is also a reflection of the government’s lack of seriousness about the project.
Public Reaction to the Scam
The news of the Nigeria Air scam has left many Nigerians feeling disillusioned and frustrated. Nigerians had hoped that Nigeria Air would be a game-changer for the aviation industry in the country, and the news that the project may be a scam has dashed those hopes. Many Nigerians have taken to social media to express their disappointment and to call for accountability from the government.
The Nigeria Lawmakers have also spoken out against the scam, calling for an investigation into the process for Nigeria Air. The Reps have called on the government to be transparent in its dealings and to ensure that public funds are used for the benefit of the people.
Consequences for Those Involved
The consequences for those involved in the Nigeria Air scam are yet to be determined. However, the House of Reps Committee on Aviation has recommended that the Minister of State for Aviation be investigated for violating the Public trust.
Lessons Learned from the Nigeria Air Launch Scam
The Nigeria Air launch scam highlights the need for transparency in government procurement processes. The lack of transparency in the Nigeria Air procurement process is a common feature of many government contracts in Nigeria, and this has led to several failed projects in the past.
The Nigeria Air scam also highlights the need for accountability in government. The government has a responsibility to ensure that public funds are used for the benefit of the people, and it is essential that those responsible for mismanaging public funds are held accountable.
Preventing Similar Scams in the Future
To prevent similar scams in the future, the government must ensure that there is transparency in its procurement processes. The Public Procurement Act must be strictly adhered to, and there must be consequences for those who violate the act.
The government must also conduct feasibility studies for all projects to ensure that they are viable and sustainable. This will prevent the government from embarking on projects that are doomed to fail.
Resolution of the House Committee on Aviation
The committee also passed a resolution asking the federal government to suspend the operations of Nigeria Air.
The resolution of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation reads,
- ‘’The Committee after careful evaluation of the issues on deliberation is totally dissatisfied with the actions of the former Minister of Aviation, Sen, Hadi Sirka in going ahead to flag off the operations of Nigeria Air despite a standing Court injunction against such, and without any provision for sustaining the operations of the airline.
- ‘’We are equally irked by the role played by Ethiopian Airlines in this whole process. It does not speak well of the excellent brotherly relationship existing between our two nations.
- ‘’A careful review of the process indicates the exercise to be highly opaque, shrouded in secrecy, shoddy, and capable of ridiculing and tarnishing the image of Nigeria before the international community.
- ‘’We want to put on record, that the Committee and indeed the National Assembly had no role in the purported launch of Nigeria Air or anything related thereof.
- ‘’While the Committee and indeed the parliament is not opposed to Nigeria having a National Carrier, as a matter of fact having a National Carrier is highly desirable to us as a people and Nigeria, as a nation. However, such a process should be transparent and all-embracing.
- ‘’We, as a Committee, would not accept any attempt by any individual or group of individuals or organization to hide under the project and siphon our commonwealths.
- ‘’Consequently, the Committee hereby resolves to:
- Direct the Federal Ministry of Aviation and its partners in the Nigeria Air project to immediately suspend flights operations and every other action with respect to Nigeria Air;
- Urge our new President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR President and C-in-C, to as a matter of urgency constitute a high-level Presidential Committee to undertake a holistic Review of the Processes of the whole Nigeria Air project and advice the government on the way forward.
- Ensure that all individuals, groups, or organizations involved in the controversial shenanigan named “Nigeria Air Take-Off” are brought to book, prosecuted, and sanctioned.
What you should know
- The former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, about 3 days to the end of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, unveiled the national carrier, Nigeria Air.
- This was despite opposition from Domestic operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) who have sued the Federal Government over the project.
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