From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
The Federal Government has reiterated that the proposed National Carrier being proposed will be established before the end of the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari’ s administration in 2019, Minister in charge of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said.
Sirka disclosed that before the end of March 2018, the FG will have the outline business base for the transaction ready even as he explained that it had to substitute Lufthansa Consortium as the initial transaction partner when it became apparent that the firm’s demand were inimical to the country’s tax system.
Speaking to journalists during a tour of the Lagos airport on Thursday, Sirika said “ I will say that we are very close to having the national carrier established. Certainly it would be within the first term of this administration.”
On the cancellation of the deal with the German firm, he said “ on the issue of Lufthansa Consortium, part of what they required from us for the national carrier was that they wouldn’t be charged any taxes which is against our law.”
He assured ex-staff of the Nigeria Airways who protested against the delay in the FG payment of their entitlement on Tuesday in Lagos that the issues has been addressed by the authority while the payment will soon be made.
He explained “ We’ve dealt with the issue of pensioners. The money is being provided by government, the Ministry of Finance is handling it and the National Assembly is also playing its roles. I want to plead with those Nigeria Airways ex-staff that since this thing happened to them, nobody cared, nobody did anything for decade and we came in and felt that this is unfair for people who have put in their entire life to serve this country.
So we felt that we should compassionately deal with the matter which we did and we provided the funding of N45bn. They should exercise patience while it happens while everybody will get his entitlement very soon.”
On airport concession, he disclosed that the transaction advisors for the concession have brought in the outline business case saying “ We are studying it and we are going to do our full business case and it would happen so soon.”
Sirika urged Nigerian airlines to rejig their business model as the present administration will not allow them to accumulate debts.
He reiterated that “ If I will advise them, they should get their Acts together to focus to reorganise, to re-engineer and take advantage and be futuristic and looking at the bigger future and organize themselves and take advantage of the SAATM rather than to sit there and the train is moving and begin to whine.”
Look there is an airline that is owing one of the agencies N13bn. There is an airline that is owing total debt of N500bn which is its collective indebtedness of that airline. That airline crashed or at least it is being taken over. And I do feel that in a situation like that.
“ I think is getting their priority right and doing the business model that would bring money for them. Everybody wants to run into scheduled passenger flights. There is a lot they can do in aviation.
According to him, “ Under this administration, it is not going to happen to allow them to continue to pile debt and go to the villa and the debts are either waived off or the debts are post- dated. No villa will call any airline. There is no door that is open for.”