The Minister’s statement may have effectively knocked the bottom off the suggestion last week by the Chief Executive Officer of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Ahmed Lawan Kuru that Arik Air should be made the national carrier.
Sirika said that the carrier that he intended to bring was such that would support the national economy with $450 million for 200million people, and very equipped to compete favourably.
While responding to reporters’questions at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, the minister made clarifications on the status of Arik air with regards to intended national carrier.
He said that there was the need to understand the standpoint of the Ministry of Aviation on the issue. According to him, 80 per cent of international airlines that dominate the African air space are non-African in ownership and structure.
“In view of the AU Agenda 2063, the Single African Aviation Market, we thought that there will be an airline that will take up that challenge; that will take advantage of it and be able to provide services to our people.
“Nigeria, being the first country to kick-start the declaration in 1999, to establish a one common market in Africa; at the time, we wanted to take advantage of the Nigeria Airways which was the strongest airline on the continent, and we thought that we could take advantage of that and it would pay Nigeria very well.
“ Tables turned, decisions were reversed and now, Nigeria was unlucky to have an airline that can participate in that manner. “So, the answer to your question is that Arik, as presently constituted, is not in line with the thinking of the ministry.
“ It will not be able to give us that airline that we need; however, Arik as an entity, since it is private-sector driven, can either buy shares in the new ventures or invest in any manner in the business as presently approved, ‘’ he said.
The minister said that he was not implying that other airlines would go down when a national carrier comes on board as it was the ministry’s duty to support business in the sector.