The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says the Nigeria Air project followed due process and is currently at procurement stage awaiting approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Mr Sirika also discredited claims that the government spent $600,000 on the design of the logo after the carrier was unveiled at the Farnborough Airshow in London in July.
The minister spoke in Abuja on Thursday at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum.
Mr Sirika said, “In recent months, misinformation, factual errors, insinuations and fabrications have been peddled in both social and print media on the Nigeria Air project.
‘‘These include desirability, inadequate planning, non-consultation with stakeholders, lack of transparency and publications of fictitious amounts allegedly spent by the government on the project, amongst others.’’
He declared that the federal government was determined to clarify these issues and set the record straight.
He explained that the current effort to establish the National Carrier predated the composition of the present FEC and his appointment as a minister.
‘‘Mr President directed the then Ministry of Aviation to commence the process for the establishment of a National Carrier during the Ministerial briefing on the Aviation Sector.
‘‘The ministry set up a committee which came up with the modalities for the establishment of a National Carrier.
‘‘The Committee in its report submitted in September 2015 recommended a private sector-led national carrier with 10 per cent government ownership and non-involvement of government in the management of the airline, but the provision of enabling environment for its operation,’’ he said.
The minister said following approval by the FEC, a consortium of Transaction Advisers (TAs), comprising Airline Management Group Ltd., Avia Solutions Ltd and Tianaero FZE, were appointed in line with best practices.
He said the TAs completed the Outline Business Case (OBC) Report, which was reviewed by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), which subsequently issued the OBC Certificate of Compliance.
According to him, the report has been presented to FEC for consideration to move to the procurement phase and then Full Business Case (FBC), where it will be opened for bidding by investors including ordinary Nigerians.
The minister explained that the estimated funding requirement for the establishment of the project was $300 million up to 2020.
He added that the expected initial start–up capital of 55 million dollars was made up of 25 million dollars for deposit for new aircraft and 30 million dollars for working capital from June to December 2018.
According to him, the estimated working capital for 2019 is 100 million dollars and 145 million dollars for 2020 to be provided by the Strategic Equity Partners who are expected to manage the project.
‘‘Certain media publications that 8.8 million dollars was expended at the Farnborough Air show are unfounded, malicious, misleading, mischievous and baseless.
‘‘The TAs for national carrier coordinated the campaign and provided the additional services that included the development of the brand strategy and the media activities relating to the unveiling of the airline.
‘‘Due process was followed in the branding, which included obtaining ‘‘No Objection’’ Certificate with Ref. No. BPP/RPT/18/VOL.1/075 from the Bureau of Public Procurement for payment of N50.8 million for these services is yet to be made.
‘‘No foreign company was paid $600,000 for the design of the logo as speculated,’’ he said.
Mr Sirika said the Nigeria Air project was not lacking investors, stressing that institutions and airlines such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), AFREXIM, US-EXIM, Standard Chartered Bank, Boeing, Airbus and China-Exim Bank, were some of the interested partners.
He said the desirability of the national carrier was occasioned by the fact that no domestic airline had evolved to fill the vacuum left by Nigeria Airways since it ceased to operate more than 15 years ago.
According to him, only 28 out of Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) with 83 countries are active and the carrier will give impetus to the emergence of Nigeria as hub for the West and Central Africa.
Mr Sirika said it would promote reliable air transport services and support the growth of the aviation industry and domestic airlines through infrastructure expansion, traffic/routes expansion and manpower development associated with the national carrier.
He added that it would create employment as well as compete with foreign airlines for a share of international routes through competitive pricing thereby reducing capital flight.
The Acting Director-General of ICRC, Chidi Izuwah, said the nation’s aviation sector had the capacity to contribute more than the current 0.6 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Mr Izuwah noted that in 2017, Emirates Airlines generated 25.8 billion dollars as revenue, while the total revenue generated by Nigeria through its crude oil sales was 20.4 billion dollars.
He said ICRC, as the agency with the responsibility of ensuring transparency in the concession processes, would continue to support the government in its plan to transform aviation infrastructure through Public Private Partnership.
OAU Professor Allegedly Involved In Sex-For-Marks Scandal To Be Arraigned By ICPC
Mr Akindele was accused of demanding sex from one of his students, Ms. Monica Osagie, in order to upgrade her academic result.
In a statement by the spokesman of the commission, Rasheedat Okoduwa,Professor Akindele will be docked on Monday 19th November 2018, on a 3-count charge having been accused of using his position as a lecturer in the Department of Management and Accounting to demand for sexual benefit from a student and fraudulently upgrade her result in Research Method course which she supposedly failed in 2017.
The Commission says that his actions were contrary to Sections 8 (1) (a) (ii), and 18 (d) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and are punishable under the same sections.
One of the counts reads, “That you, professor Akindele, on or about the 16th day of September, 2017 at Ile-Ife did corruptly ask for sexual benefits for yourself from Ms. Monica Osagie on account of favour to be afterwards shown to her by you in the discharge of your official duties as a lecturer in the Department of Management and Accounting, Obafemi Awolowo University, to wit; altering her academic grades in the course with code MBA 632- Research Method from fail to pass; and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 8(1)(a)(ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”
The 57-year-old professor has asked for plea-bargain having admitted guilt. He also cited ill-health as a factor that may make him unable to stand the rigours of prison life, notifying the Commission through his lawyer, Omotayo Alade-Fawole.
He pleaded that his prayers for plea-bargain be considered, more so as he was already serving punishment for his offence having been sacked by the university.
Ms. Osagie had earlier expressed a lack of confidence in the capacity of ICPC to give her a fair hearing.
According to the commission, the public announcement of the professors impending arraignment is in fulfillment of its promise to the public to avail them of the outcome of the investigation in due time.
Traditional Ruler Arrested Over Alleged N15.5m Fraud
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, in a statement made available to TribuneOnline, said the arrest of the traditional ruler followed a petition written by the management of a real estate firm against the traditional ruler.
DSP Oyeyemi said the company approached the traditional ruler for the purchase of about 23 acres of land in his domain, which was negotiated for N15.5 million, and the company paid the amount to the suspect after showing them the land.
“Surprisingly, some months after the payment was made, the traditional ruler started selling the same portion of land to another set of people, and before the company knew what was going on, he had sold 17 acres out of the 23 acres.
“As a result of the petition, the state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu, directed the officer in charge Public Complaints Bureau to look into the case and bring the suspect to book.
“The traditional ruler was subsequently arrested, and on interrogation, he admitted collecting the said amount of money from the complainant after showing them the land.
“He stated further that it was when he needed some money for his coronation that he was tempted to sell parts of the already sold land,” DSP Oyeyemi stated.
The police spokesperson said CP Iliyasu had ordered a thorough investigation into the case, and that the suspect would be arraigned in court in accordance with the anti-land grabbing laws of Ogun State.
Court orders forfeiture of N300m bonds over Kanu’s absence
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the interim forfeiture of the N300 million bail bonds by sureties to Nnamdi Kanu following their failure to produce him in court on Tuesday.
Justice Binta Nyako ordered that the money be deposited in the court’s bank account and not the Federal Givernment’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) before the next adjourned date on March 28, 2019.
The judge ruled that the sureties: Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; a Jewish priest, Immanuel Shalom, and an Abuja-based accountant, Tochukwu Uchendu, would be given six months to argue their applications challenging the forfeiture.
However, the co-accused to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Bright Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu, and Chidiebere Onwudiwe were present as their trial on three count-charges bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony and setting up illegal broadcast stations, continued.
Earlier, prosecution counsel Suleiman Labaran asked the court to order the sureties to show cause why the N100m bail bond for each of the them should not be forfeited to the Federal Government.
But counsel to Abaribe, Chukwu Machukwu-Ume (SAN) said the lawmaker went on an oversight function with the Senate Committee on Niger Delta.
Justice Binta Nyako threatened to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of Abaribe and Uchendu, who was said to be ill. Shalom was present in court.
The sureties had filed separate applications asking the court to stop their suretyship on the ground that they can no longer perform that responsibility because of some supervening and exceptional circumstances.
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