Nigeria Air Project Suspended Indefinitely: Minister Accuses Ethiopian Airlines of Flying ‘Foreign Flag

"It was only painted as Air Nigeria. It was Ethiopian Airlines trying to fly our flag." His comments echoed longstanding concerns over the involvement of foreign entities in what was meant to be a symbol of Nigerian pride and self-reliance

Aviation Minister Festus Keyamo Reveals Alleged Deception Behind National Carrier Initiative

In a startling revelation during a televised ministerial briefing, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, announced the indefinite suspension of the Nigeria Air project, accusing Ethiopian Airlines of disguising itself as a Nigerian venture.

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Keyamo’s assertion shed light on the contentious nature of the proposed national carrier, casting doubts on its authenticity and underlying motives.

“It was not Air Nigeria,” Keyamo affirmed, emphasizing the foreign influence overshadowing the purportedly indigenous initiative.

“It was only painted as Air Nigeria. It was Ethiopian Airlines trying to fly our flag.” His comments echoed longstanding concerns over the involvement of foreign entities in what was meant to be a symbol of Nigerian pride and self-reliance.

The minister’s declaration marks a significant setback for the Nigeria Air project, which the previous administration initially championed under former President Muhammadu Buhari and former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.

Conceived as a joint venture between Nigerian investors and Ethiopian Airlines, the initiative aimed to establish a national carrier, but its implementation encountered numerous obstacles and controversies.

Keyamo’s revelation, made on May 27 during an event commemorating the administration’s first anniversary under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, underscores the complexities surrounding Nigeria’s aviation sector.

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The minister questioned the rationale behind entrusting the national carrier’s operations to a foreign airline, arguing for the empowerment of local entities for the benefit of Nigeria.

“Why bring in a foreign airline to fly our flag?” Keyamo questioned, emphasizing the need for genuine Indigenous representation in the country’s aviation landscape.

“Air Nigeria will be indigenous for the whole of Nigeria and for the full benefit of Nigeria, not with 60% of the profits going to another country.”

The Nigeria Air project’s trajectory has been marred by legal challenges and political upheaval. Despite initial optimism, it faced opposition from private Nigerian carriers and encountered legal action, leading to its eventual collapse following a change in government last year.

The project’s demise was further compounded by allegations of corruption, culminating in the arrest and arraignment of former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika and family members on corruption charges related to the misappropriation of funds amounting to NGN2.7 billion naira (USD1.94 million).

Ethiopian Airlines, the purported partner in the Nigeria Air venture, has yet to officially respond to Keyamo’s accusations. However, as recently as March, the airline expressed optimism about the project’s prospects, having acquired three Boeing 737-8 aircraft earmarked for Nigeria Air. These aircraft have since been deployed at affiliate carriers in Togo, Malawi, and Zambia, signaling a shift in focus amid the project’s uncertainty.

Keyamo’s directive to suspend the Nigeria Air project underscores the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability in national endeavors.

The decision reflects a broader push to prioritize the interests of Nigeria and its citizens, ensuring that initiatives purportedly aimed at national development remain true to their intended objectives.

As Nigeria navigates the complexities of its aviation sector, the fate of the Nigeria Air project remains uncertain.

Keyamo’s revelations have reignited debates over the country’s approach to national development initiatives and the role of foreign partnerships in shaping its future.

Amidst ongoing challenges and controversies, the quest for a truly indigenous national carrier continues, underscoring the aspirations of a nation striving for self-reliance and economic empowerment.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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