Home Business & Economy Air Nigeria To Takes Off April 2022, Says Sirika

Air Nigeria To Takes Off April 2022, Says Sirika

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– As FEC Approves N7.84Bn for maritime, aviation projects

Much touted National airliner, Nigeria Air, is expected to take off by April 2022, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has disclosed.

The Minister spoke to State House Correspondents on Wednesday after the week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to Sirika, the national carrier will be run by a company in which the Nigerian government will hold a 5% stake, Nigerian entrepreneurs holding 46%, while the remaining 49% will be reserved for yet to be assigned strategic equity partners, including foreign investors.

He further noted that the national carrier, when operational, will create about 70,000 jobs for Nigerians.

Sirika recalled that over 400 thousand Nigerians participated in choosing the name which was launched in 2018.

“The next one also is approval of the outline business case for the establishment of the national carrier and this is the sixth time the memorandum appeared before Council. The sixth time, we got lucky to be passed by Council.

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“The structure of the proposed airline; government will be owning not more than 5%. So 5% is the maximum equity that government will take, then 46% will be owned by Nigerian entrepreneurs. So, if you add that, it’s 51%. So, it’s 51% majority shareholding by Nigerians and then 49% will be held by strategic equity partner or partners that will be sourced during the procurement phase, which is the next phase.

“This airline, if started, and within the first few years will generate about 70,000 jobs. These 70,000 jobs are higher than the total number of civil servants that we have in the country. Its importance had been well discussed so, I’ll not go back to it. You had discussed it separately also on various fora as to the need for it.

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“But one important item is the AU agenda 2063, which speaks to integration of Africa, which speaks to the cause and trade within Africa that is intra-Africa and to which also another flagship project of AU agenda 2063 called the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

“Now, the only way, the quickest way that you can integrate Africa is by air because if you want to interconnect all the 54 nations of Africa, via rail or road, or waterways, which is even impossible, the quantum of money that you need to do all of these, the time it will take to develop this infrastructure, as well as the maintenance cost, is almost prohibitive.

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“It’s doable, it’s time-taking, but with aviation, within a year, once the right policy is in place, like SAATM, you can connect Africa and then of course, the needed integration will happen. Part of AU agenda 2063 So, these are the two memoranda that were submitted, and gladly they were passed by Council.

“The name is Nigerian Air which of course, if you remember back in time, this was subject to national debate and 400,000 people participated, choose the name, the colour, the logo, everything and it was produced that time. It was launched also in Farnborough as far back as 2018.

“So, the business case is a public document. It will be on our website, you can download it and we can give you copies. This airline will pick up and start, by God’s grace, on or before April 2022”, he said.

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Meanwhile, the FEC approved a total of N7,840,487,969 for projects in the Transportation and Aviation ministries at Wednesday’s meeting.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Sirika, told correspondents that Council approved a memorandum for the award of contract provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, including software support and training, for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

“The first one is approval for the award of contract for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, including software support and training, which will be located in Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

“In summary, this is a software that will allow all of the activities of civil aviation regulation to be done electronically on one platform, including payments, including follow ups on personnel licensing, the medicals, the economic regulation of airlines, safety regulation of airlines and all other businesses within the envelope of civil aviation will be monitored by this single software.

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“It is called ‘the truth machine’ in quotation in Europe, because all of the truth of regulation of civilization will appear on this platform, it’s extremely important software that the world has now come to terms with.

“The contract was given to Messrs. Arif Investment Nigeria Limited, who are representatives of Empik GmbH. This Empik are the creators of this software, one of its kind in the world, at the sum of N1,492,520,325, which will be including 7.5% VAT and completion period of six months”, the Minister said.

Also, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said his ministry secured an approval for the provision of training logistics for personnel under the Deep Blue Project.

The Minister, who said Council was updated on the improved state of security on the nation’s waterways, disclosed that the amount approved for the contract was a sum of N6.348 billion.

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“Memo to the cabinet for approval for the award of contract for the provision of training logistics, operational equipment and maintenance support for government… equipment and personnel, under the Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution Infrastructure in Nigeria, and you know that this is also what we call the Deep Blue Project, that’s the project that the President launched some months ago, around May or June.

“The contract was awarded at N6,347,967,644.21, inclusive of 7.5% VAT for a period of two years. It’s also important to say that the cabinet was briefed that there’s huge improvement in the security on our waterways now and we hope that it will continue as we progress”, he said.

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