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The Federal Government has announced the suspension of the national carrier project.
The decision was disclosed by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika on Wednesday in Abuja.
The Minister who said the decision was strategic dismissed claims that the suspension was due to pressure from stakeholders and the politics.
According to him: “Today in Council,  the Federal government of Nigeria decided  to suspend the National Carrier project for some strategic reasons and we would advice you in due course.
“The decision has nothing to do with the pressure  from stakeholders because have explained as a government that for 40 years; since 1978 to 1980 when decision was made to liberalise the sector, we saw the coming of Okada, Kabo, ABC,  Bellview, we have seen their coming and their exit and right now, we have got Medview, Airpeace, Arik,  we have got all of these people with permission to go international.
“We have given them Banjul,  Dubai,  London, South Africa and we have given them everywhere.
“Of course none of them is meeting the need by Nigerian people to have robust national carrier and that is to say that something is amiss.
“That was the intention of government to be able to set up a carrier that would deliver this service to Nigerian people.
“So the service is needed and that is why the Federal Government went ahead to appoint Transaction Adviser to continue the process.
“So it has nothing to do with pressure. There is no pressure and you and I know that the service is not being delivered in Nigeria; locally here and internationally as well.”
He continued: “Prices of tickets are astronomical within international routes and certain routes in Nigeria that ought to be developed are not developed. In the past, Nigerian Airways was doing Makurdi, Sokoto, Calabar, Maiduguri with BC10 and full.
“So this absence, the gap is there. With all the number of airlines flying the country,  this sudden growth to 20 airplanes, we have seen it in Okada, Kabo, Arik and many others but the service is not being delivered.
“So there is no argument from stakeholders to say we should not proceed, no.
On whether the decision was political, he said: “I think those saying it was politically motivated are being very unfair to Mr. President.
“Seating to my right is the Rector of Nigeria College of Aviation Technology  (NCAT) Captain  Abdulsalam Muhammed, even before I was made the Minister, shortly after the Mr.  President was sworn in, he was made the chairman  of the the Task Force to establish a national carrier and once I became Minister,  they handed over the report to government and government gave me the report and asked me to implement to set up a national carrier.
“So it had nothing to do with politics. It is strategic and let’s leave it at that. It has been suspended for now.”
On how the International stakeholders would perceive the decision,  he said: “Since there is lot of international engagements and banks, consulting companies and all and how do they believe in us that we are serious again in future?,
“I believe it is very clear and they know we are serious. The amount of time and resources spent in the last two and half years trying to get to the end of this procurement speaks for us and also the viability of the project especially the Outline Business Case that has been developed has shown to the world that this is a serious venture and this is serious government.
“We were serious to do it and since I said it is strategic, it is part of the strategy, whenever we come back, our government or a future government to do it, I am sure the  international community will believe in us  and will believe  as to the reasons which would advance the reasons to suspend it for now.”


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