Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, says it is untrue that the Nigeria Air project was suspended over lack of investors.
In a statement issued on his behalf d by James Odaudu, deputy director, media and public affairs, ministry of transportation, Sirika said a number of “well-grounded” investors were ready to key into the project.
The minister’s comment contradicts that of Lai Mohammed, his information counterpart, who had told reporters on Monday that investors who were supposed to partner with the government on the project were no longer forthcoming.
“If the understanding of government at the beginning was that the project might be self-financing or the project would be financed by investors and you think that such a project can no longer be sponsored by investors, either because they are not forthcoming or such venture can no longer be viable, the government is at the discretion to take a decision,” he had said during the official opening of LSG Sky Chefs, an in-flight catering facility, in Lagos.
But in a statement, Sirika said at the Farnborough air show in UK where the logo of Nigeria Air was unveiled in July, some “potential investors” emphasised interest in the national carrier.
“The Office of the Honourable Minister of state for Aviation has noted, with consternation, various opinions, comments and observations in the media regarding the status and the reasons for the recent suspension of the processes leading to the establishment of a Nigerian national carrier,” the statement read.
“Among the reasons being bandied around for its suspension, especially in the social media is the absence of interested and ready investors. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, as the national carrier project has an avalanche of well-grounded and ready investors.
“These include international finance institutions such as the Afro-Exim Bank, African Development Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, aircraft manufacturers – Airbus and Boeing, airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Air etc. and some reputable individuals and entrepreneurs.
“The office also wants to clarify that the country’s participation at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in July was not for the sole purpose of unveiling the Nigeria Air logo as the public is being made to understand.
“It was also a meeting point with these potential investors who saw the event as another opportunity to market and re-emphasize their interests in the project.
“It is also pertinent to clarify that the Federal Executive Council only SUSPENDED the process for the establishment of the national carrier for the time being. The project has not been killed. Theses clarifications have been made in the public interest.”