We have noted with dismay the comments by the outgoing Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, to the effect that he will commence operations of Nigeria Air before Monday, May 29, 2023. He equally stated that an aircraft in Nigeria Air colours is on its way to Nigeria in less than 24hours. 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.
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.
Again, it is very disturbing that a minister is desperately hoodwinking the entire nation into accepting a massively flawed process just 72hours to the end of his 7year tenure in office as Minister of Aviation even as the courts have halted him.
Stakeholders are worried that his actions may create problems for the incoming government of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
The government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should not be blackmailed into accepting a contraption that would definitely and ultimately hurt the Nigerian economy and destroy millions of existing jobs in favour of one or two individuals and a foreign country by this hurried last minute desperation.
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 the 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 this Nigerian Air and its AOC.
The NG Eagles’ AOC is equally a matter for another day.
The government should understand that the actions and pronouncements of this minister is impugning the integrity of the NCAA and, as such, capable of adversely affecting the ratings of Nigeria’s airlines.
The minister can not order these certification processes by fiat. Therefore, an aircraft flying into Nigeria and bearing Nigerian colours does not change anything.
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 can not proceed with any action towards the airline.
Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, OFR