Nigeria Air belongs to Ethiopian Airline, I spent only N3bn for consultation – Sirika speaks

Hadi Sirika, a former minister of aviation, discloses that over the past seven years, the federal government has only provided N3 billion for the Nigeria Air project.

The N3 billion had not been completely spent before Sirika left the office on May 29, according to Sirika, who revealed this during a live broadcast on Arise TV on Sunday to clear the air about the contentious project. He said that a total of N5 billion had been budgeted for the project since 2018 and that N3 billion had already been spent.

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The country, he claimed, paid nothing for the chartered Ethiopian aircraft displayed a few days before President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration ended. Ethiopian, he claimed.

The former Minister responded to the claim that the Aviation Ministry under Sirika had spent N85 billion on the Nigeria Air project by saying:

“The total amount approved and budgeted for Nigeria Air from 2016 to 2023 is N5 billion. However, only about N3 billion—rather than N85 billion—was released, and as of the time I left government, not all of that sum had been used. The funds were only used to pay for salaries, the AOC procedures, special advisory services, consultative services, and the upkeep of the Abuja office.

“Hadi Sirika did not award any contracts; the funds were used for these purposes. Additionally, the Freedom of Information Act allows individuals to apply for and obtain full disclosure of how their tax dollars have been spent. The N85 billion referenced only exists in the minds of those who are holding it.

Sirika acknowledged that the Ethiopian plane used to display the project’s accomplishment was chartered but insisted that the government did not foot the bill because Ethiopian Airlines brought the plane to express their support for the endeavor.

“The NCAA and Nigeria are aware of the AOC possessed by Ethiopian Airlines, and they are allowed to enter with either scheduled passengers, unscheduled passengers, or cargo. They must fall below one of the three. They arrived as charter members. Being chartered does not imply that anything was purchased. The entry of that aircraft was not funded in any way by the government.

Second, no paying passenger was aboard the airplane since doing so would have been illegal and would not have been permitted. Since they were equity partners, it was their own marketing plan. They were given a special allowance known as a chartered to perform this unveiling; this does not imply that we paid for it. It would have been the Ethiopian Airlines, not the Nigerian government, who would have had to foot the bill. No money was paid, according to the former Minister.

A number of people and organizations have demanded the former minister’s arrest and inquiry due to claims of fraud regarding the Nigeria Air project.

While some said that the enterprise as a whole lacked transparency from the start, others claim that the Minister should be held accountable for the last-minute presentation of an Ethiopian Airline rebranded as Nigeria Air.

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