FORMER aviation minister Hadi Sirika has promised to revisit plans to float a national carrier called Nigeria Air he is re-appointed to his previous position by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In July last year at the Farnborough Air Show in Kent, in the UK, Mr Sirika, revealed plans to float a new national carrier called Nigeria Air. Pointing out that the airline would take off in December 2018, Mr Sirika said that following extensive negotiations with several international airlines and aircraft manufacturers, it would fly to 80 different destination and have a fleet of 30 aircraft.
However, the federal government announced that the plans were being put on hold and it is believed that this was because of objections from the economic management team (EMT) chaired by vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Apparently the EMT recommended that the Nigerian government should not set up a national carrier with public funds, which was accepted by the cabinet.
Earlier this week, President Buhari re-nominated Mr Sirika for a ministerial appointment and it is believed that he may get his old job back as minister of state for aviation. Shortly after he appeared before the senate for his screening as a ministerial nominee, Mr Sirika said he achieved a lot on the projects before the end of President Buhari’s first term and would do more if re-appointed.
Mr Sirika said: “Should Mr President deem it fit that I go to transportation in order to oversee aviation, if that is his wish, I will continue with that good job. I believe that having a very vibrant private sector-led national carrier is good for the economy of Nigeria.
“It is good for the population of Nigeria, it is good for the centrality of Nigeria and it is also good for the wealth and fortune of Nigeria. One airplane in Nigeria is equal to 300 direct jobs to start with and the relationship between the gross domestic product (GDP) and air transportation is direct as we have the biggest GDP in Africa.
“We are in the centre of the world, we are a highly mobile travelling people and this is why the prices of tickets are expensive because we don’t have an alternative. We cannot match them, whatever they give, we have to take.
“It is capitalism, we cannot run away from it. If it is me or whoever is the minister, I think that this is a priority we will take, thank God a lot of job has been done.”