‘It’s shadowy’ — airline operators fault Sirika’s move to float Nigeria Air days to handover

‘It’s shadowy’ — airline operators fault Sirika’s move to float Nigeria Air days to handover
May 26
09:48 2023

Domestic aviation firms, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), have condemned plans by Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, to deliver Nigeria Air, the proposed national carrier, before May 29, 2023.

The airlines, in a statement on Friday, signed by Obiora Okonkwo, spokesperson of AON, described the move as contemptuous and shadowy.

Two days ago, Sirika announced that an aircraft belonging to Nigeria Air would be delivered on Friday (today), insisting that the national carrier would be operational before his tenure ends.

Prior to this announcement, aviation stakeholders had raised concerns over the ownership stake of the proposed national carrier.


Last year, a federal high court in Lagos prohibited the federal government from selling the shares of Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines — a judgment that ultimately halted the commencement of operations.

But the minister had consistently insisted that the national carrier would fly before the end of the current administration, adding that “nothing would stop it.”

Responding to Sirika’s recent comments on floating Nigeria Air in the statement, the airlines kicked against the plan, adding that such a move “was not in the best interest of the country”.


“All of these statements and actions are in flagrant disobedience of the orders of the federal high court of Nigeria which halted the said moves by the minister to float the said airline until the determination of the substantive suit brought by AON against it,” the statement reads.

“We make bold to respond because of the myriad of inquiries from concerned and patriotic Nigerians and industry stakeholders who have either called or sent messages over the minister’s comments.

“For the avoidance of doubt, AON welcomes the establishment of more airlines in Nigeria for we believe that the skies are big enough to accommodate all. However, AON is against any contraption that is shadowy and not in the best interest of the country.

“We need the outgoing minister to come forward, defend, and counter the very damning submissions in our suit.”



The airlines also frowned on the desperate move of the minister to operate the airline despite a court order, uncompleted certification, and a short time before his tenure elapses.

“It is very disturbing that a minister is desperately hoodwinking the entire nation into accepting a massively flawed process just 72 hours to the end of his 7-year tenure in office as minister of aviation even as the courts have halted him,” AON added.

“The aviation minister is aware of the different court orders against him and Nigeria Air. He should be aware that he is courting a charge of contempt of court as he is not above the law and can not freely disregard the courts.


“AON is also aware, like the minister and promoters of Nigeria Air, that the process of acquiring airline operating certificate (AOC) for Nigeria Air is only at stage one contrary to his televised statement that the Nigerian Air AOC process was at stage five.

“The world is watching the regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Nigerian Air and its AOC. The NG Eagles’ AOC is equally a matter for another day.”


The group said the actions and pronouncements of the minister are impugning the integrity of the NCAA and, as such, capable of adversely affecting the ratings of Nigeria’s airlines.

AON also said Sirika cannot order the certification processes by fiat.


“Therefore, an aircraft flying into Nigeria and bearing Nigerian colours does not change anything,” the airlines said.

“Furthermore, the fact that the minister has just a few more days left of his time in office, makes it necessary that promoters of the airline, if they exist, other than Sirika, should be talking to Nigerians, telling them what they ought to know and answering relevant questions about their stakes in  Nigeria Air.


“Hadi Sirika knows that until the order is vacated, the ministry of aviation cannot proceed with any action toward the airline.”


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