***Umahi says he built Airport with over N36b
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state has disclosed that he expended over thirty-six billion naira to built the state international airport at Onueke, Ezza South Local government Area of the state.
Umahi made the disclosure while addressing stakeholders of the state and a delegation of the Federal Ministry of Aviation during flight test run that took place at the airport.
The international airport named after President Muhammadu Buhari, is to be inaugurated in the first week of May, 2023 by the President.
During the test run, two Air Peace Hopper airlines, No. 5N-BXF and No. 5-BUY landed at the airport with over one hundred passengers on board from Lagos and Abuja.
Umahi however said his he is ready to hand over the airport to the federal government to run, noting that the state government can’t manage the airport.
He further indicated that over 400 citizens of Ebonyi State were employed as staff of the airport.
Earlier in his remark, the director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nigeria CAAN, who was represented by General Manager, Aerodrome Services, Mr Oladipo Adebayo, described the airport as the best of all the airports in Nigeria.
He applauded the Ebonyi State Government for using high-standard equipment to construct the airport, adding that with such quality materials used, the airport will stand the test of time.
MD admits fraud in the unveiling of the Nigeria Air Logo, says Aircraft was chattered
***Says ceremony stagemanaged, Nigeria Air is yet to launched
The Interim Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Captain Dayo Olumide has admitted before the Senate Committee on Aviation on Tuesday, that the recently unveiled Nigeria Air launched by former President Muhamadu Buhari, was a chattered aircraft from Ethiopia hired for five days to show case the logo to Nigerians and their shareholders.
Captain Dayo disclosed further that, for Nigeria to operate an aircraft, the aircraft must be Nigerian registered with all necessary procedures complied with.
He added that, the particular aircraft that was unveiled was not registered and came into Nigeria with a few days clearance from Ethiopia and was returned after use.
He further stated that Nigeria only has airport license which is one of two licenses required for operating an airline and does not permit one to carry out commercial service operations
In his words, “I will like to address your question first before I go on. The aircraft that came in and left was a legitimate charter flight.
“Anyone of us here if we have a destination wedding in Senegal, we can charter an aircraft. You don’t need to have a licence to do that, you just charter an aircraft, an aircraft you paid for it, it will be brought here, take your passengers and off you go.
“And that is what we did. But in this case, it was to unveil, ever since 2018, all you have ever seen about Nigeria Aircraft were pictures, drawings not the real aircraft, and we thought it was time to show what the logo will look like on a real aircraft and also to let our shareholders see the effort we have made so far. “Our institutional investors are not in aviation, but they are putting their money for 10 or 15 years. So they need to see what the actual aircraft with logo will look like. Then the social media dimension came into it.
“It is Ethiopian registered one . Why is it Ethiopian registered. To operate aircraft in Nigeria, they must be Nigerian registered; that aircraft was not 5th November registered because it was a chartered flight and it came in with just a few days clearance and off it went.
“For us to get that licence which is my mandate, we must among other things have three aircraft before the NCA will give us a licence and those three aircraft must be Nigerian registered aircraft.
“There are five steps that one goes through to have a licence. We have gone from the first one to the second one but the problem is that when you change what we call post holders, post holders is a technical term for director of maintenance, Chief pilot, when you change them and replace them completely, you have to go back to phase one to interview them to be compliant to the authority.
“But haven gone back to phase one doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong. That is a correct and normal process.”
“So when this aircraft came on a chartered flight, everybody said we have launched Nigeria Air, I want to clarify that we have not launched Nigeria Air”.
In their remarks , the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South ) and Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), said it was unfortunate for the Nigeria Air project to be shrouded in suspicion and secrecy.
The committee also frowned at other at other decisions taken by handlers in the aviation sector that does not add value to the sector and the image of the country.
At last, Nigeria Air debuts, Lands in Abuja against court injuction
At last, Nigeria Air flight has touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja but not without misgivings from Aviation stakeholders
The flight which took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, finally journeyed through to Nigeria’s capital city on Friday, Three days away from the change of batton between outgoing President Buhari and the incoming Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The debut of the Nigeria Air may have fufilled the promise that the national carrier would fly before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
However, A report in the Guardian indicated that, contrary to court orders, the minister, Hadi Sirika, had said that the aircraft would be unveiled in Nigerian colours in fulfillment of all promises the Buhari-led administration made in the aviation sector.
But the AON has described the new twist as a last-minute disobedience of court order, attempt to muddle the water through a phantom project, and an effort to “rubbish” the Buhari-led administration.
Solicitor to the AON, Abubakar Nuhu Ahmad, of the Nureini Jimoh (SAN) Chambers, in a memo to the Attorney General of the Federation, yesterday, drew attention to the pending suit number: FHC/L/CS/2159/2022, challenging the “shady deals, deliberate infraction of the Nigerian laws and self-enrichment/corruption,” against the Federal Ministry of Aviation on the Nigeria Air project.
Ahmad said that in the said suit, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos headed by Justice A.L Allagoa, granted three separate orders of injunctions, restraining the defendant from taking of any step about the Nigeria Air project.
He noted that while the administration would hand over on Monday, May 29, 2023, “the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, is planning to circumvent the Court Orders on Friday, May 26, 2023, being the last working day of this administration, and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws, amongst others.
“The minister is planning to hurriedly bring in two aircraft and pretend that Nigeria Air has commenced operation. Aside from moral justification for commercial operation after the last day in office, it is a clever way to violate the court orders.” Ahmad stated.
He added that the action had no regard to whether or not it will stain the record of this administration, “whether or not it will cover for corrupt actions raised in the suit and deliberately meant to violate Court Orders for self-serving purposes.”
“We, therefore, employ your excellency to stop this action of the Minister of Aviation, ensure compliance with the terms of the order and avoid needless controversies on the action after your tenure has expired.
“Notwithstanding, our client will still pursue contempt action against the Minister personally whether or not he left office, for the promotion of the rule of law, protection of the integrity of the court, and in line with international best practices,” the memo stated in part.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, in November 2022, ordered all parties involved in the proposed national carrier to maintain the status quo, effectively truncating the December take-off date as pledged by the minister.
The court gave the order upon receiving the application of the AON, urging the court to stop the national carrier deal and withdraw the Air Transport Licence (ATL) already issued to Nigeria Air by the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Operators, like Air Peace, United Nigeria, Azman, and Top Brass, claimed that the firm that served as Transaction Adviser for the transaction was incorporated in March, last year, and alleged that the company was linked to the aviation minister. The local airlines further alleged that the ATL issued to Nigerian Air did not pass through normal security clearance.
A stakeholder, who did not want to be mentioned, regretted that after seven years and billions wasted on the project, the minister is still bent on creating landmines for the next administration.
He described the national carrier project as one of the most wasteful ventures ever undertaken in Nigeria’s aviation history.
He said: “Can the Civil Aviation Authority confirm which AOC Nigeria Air is using? Has an AOC been issued and when was it issued?
“In all honesty, is this airline founded on a solid foundation to meet the aspirations and dreams of Nigerians? Or is it just a feat to cover the wasteful and shambolic project of Hadi Sirika? It has every inclination of a faulty foundation, and that is where the problem is for the next administration. An airline business is not a venture you hatchet under the table and expect to fly. No! A minister should know this. That we are having this conversation itself is a shame,” he said.
Apparently reacting to a report that Buhari has failed to deliver Nigeria Air as promised, Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, had insisted that Nigeria Air would fly before the tenure of Buhari winds down
Speaking in a Channels Television interview, Sirika had said, “On the question of Nigeria Air, on Friday in two days, Nigeria Air plane will land in Nigeria as part of the processes to commence operation. We will on that day unveil this aircraft, the livery and everything in Nigeria’s colours, belong to Nigeria Air and we will proceed to go and do the retrofit and bring back those airplanes.”
Relief as Airline operators call off plan to shut down operations
The earlier decision to shut down commercial flight operations in the country with effect from Monday by airline operators has been suspended
The operators it was gathered secured the commitment of some top government functionaries to intervene on the critical issue of the astronomical increase of the price of aviation fuel in the country to N700 per litre.
They disclosed that based on the plea from the top officials they had to suspend the planned action.
The Statement was jointly signed by the President Alhaji (Dr.) Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina and the various Airlines.
They are Alhaji Shehu Wada – Executive Director, Max Air; Barr. Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood – CEO, Aero Contractors, Mr. Sukh Mann – Deputy CEO, Dana Air, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo – Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu – CEO, Arik Air, and Alhaji Faisal Abdulmunaf ‘MD, Azman Air -MD, Azman Air.
They said that the decision was also informed by their consideration of their customers who have faced days of uncertainties over their travel plans,
The statement reads, “The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wishes to inform the general public that further to numerous calls from the highest echelons in government with promises to urgently intervene in the crises being faced by airlines due to the astronomic and continuously rising cost of JetA1.
The statement explained further that the operators has acceded to requests to withdraw the action for the time being to allow for a fresh round of dialogue with government in the hope of reaching an amicable solution.
“We have also reached this decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to their various destinations for the time being during the period of discussions with relevant authorities.
“In view of the above and in the interest of national economy and security considerations, AON hereby wishes to notify the general public that the earlier announced shutdown of operations on May 9, 2022 is hereby suspended in good fate pending the outcome of hopefully fruitful engagement with government. “
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