The Federal Government through its Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has again declared that the proposed national airline for the country will be unveiled by December 2018.

Sirika made this known while receiving the Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the new carrier from the Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr Chidi Izuwa, in Abuja.

“There is no doubt that the issue of national carrier for Nigeria is very close to the hearts of both the government and the people, which is the reason it has taken the option of a Public Private Partnership with the belief that it is the only way to deliver a national carrier that will stand the test of time”, the minister said.

The proposed National Carrier, which Sirika said will gulp $8.8 million as preliminary cost and $300 million as take-off cost would be executed through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the first set of five airplanes for the airliner arriving December 19, 2018.

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Nigerians have all desired to have another national carrier in place of the defunct one, the Nigeria Airways which was unwisely liquidated by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Truly, both the proponents and opponents of the idea have their genuine reasons for their opinions, but considering the population of the country, the appetite Nigerians have for traveling for various reasons, with the huge capital flights being daily repatriated out of the country by the foreign airlines and coupled with the exploitation of Nigerian travelers, it is normal for the country to have its national carrier.

When the present government announced its plan to float another national carrier therefore, many Nigerians were in support even though as expected, some were against it on the excuse that government had no business being in business.

 

In view of this, the decision by the President Muhammadu Buhari led government to provide a new national carrier for its citizens is a welcome development.

However, as good as this move is supposed to be, the process and procedure being used to midwife this project is shrouded in secrecy which has aroused suspicion from different interest groups.

Those raising questions about the sincerity and feasibility of the new national carrier taking off in five months’ time may not be wrong taking into cognizance the required processes needed to follow while coming up with a new airline not to talk of a new national carrier.

Many stakeholders expressed their surprise at the level government had reached with the project when the Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance was presented to the minister last week, with the announcement that come July 18, 2018, at the Farnborough International Public Air show in London, that the name, logo, colour scheme, the structure and the type of airplane for the national carrier will be unveiled.

Up till today, the government team led by the minister has kept all its moves and strategies under the table about the status of the national airline and even the would-be private investors or technical partners.

Besides all these puzzles, has government considered the embarrassment it will cause it and the entire Nigerians if the ghost of the mess created by the liquidation of the defunct national carrier haunts and prevents the eventual take off of the new carrier?

Does the government remember that the former workers of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways, in Nigeria and other parts of Africa are yet to be paid their final entitlements? Has government settled other foreign partners the former national carrier transacted business with and are yet to be paid?

The idea of coopting the CEOs of the aviation agencies and other unknown entities to the team packaging the project may not translate to any magic unless the government follows due diligence.

In all honesty, while it is the dream of many including Crucial Moment that government provides Nigerians another befitting national carrier, the best way to achieve this is to take one step after the other in order not to create another mess.

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Without settling the former workers of the defunct national carrier, the other foreign partners it’s indebted to, unveiling the identity of the would be private investors, technical partners and the position of other Nigerians, this national carrier’s project may be another unwise policy of the government.

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