Nigeria Air: Reps summon aviation ministry’s permanent secretary

THE Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace, Emmanuel Meribole, will on Wednesday, June 7 appear before the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation to clear some grey areas in the Nigeria Air project.

Meribole’s invitation was conveyed in an letter signed by the committee clerk, Bassey Edem.

According to the invitation, the committee requested that the permanent secretary come with every document that pertains to the project, also known as a national carrier.

The committee is worried about the viral reports and videos making the rounds over the Nigeria Air project.

“As committee of the parliament saddled with responsibility of oversighting the aviation sector of the economy, we deem it necessary to be fully briefed about the project.

“Consequently, l am directed to invite you to an emergency session with the committee on Thursday, first of June 2023. You are to come with all individuals/agencies connected to the project,” the committee stated in the invitation.

Meribole, however, requested to be given till June 7 to enable him to assemble all the necessary documents and individuals connected with the project and appear before the committee.

The ICIR recalled that the immediate past minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, had on Friday, May 26, brought in an aircraft branded Nigeria Air.

A Boeing 737-800 with registration number ET-APL, mode S Q4005C, and serial number 40965/4075, the aircraft was displayed by the outgone minister as belonging to Nigeria Air.

According to Sirika, the aircraft is one out of 30 aeroplanes expected to form the fleet of national carriers in the next five years.

To the amusement of many Nigerians, the aircraft was suddenly returned to Ethiopia Airlines the day after the unveiling.

Information gathered from the live tracker, however, showed that the aircraft was about 10 years eight months old, with its first flight being June 22, 2012, as an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft.

Further checks revealed that the aircraft is in active service for Ethiopian Airlines and was back to regular flight service after Sirika made a “water splash” unveiling the aircraft.

Stakeholders in the industry had queried the aircraft’s specification, documentation, ownership, and technical agreement, besides the court case surrounding the project.

The ICIR also reported that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had sued Sirika over alleged shady deals, deliberate infractions of the Nigerian laws, and self-enrichment/corruption surrounding the Nigeria Air project.

Against this background, the House Committee on Aviation had invited the permanent secretary to appear before it with detailed documents.

According to detailed information on the invitation, the documents expected to be presented by the permanent secretary to the committee include full business case (FBC) as prepared by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), full disclosure of the ownership structure of Nigeria Air, including equity contributions by individuals, organisations and consortium outlining each contribution, names, addresses, phone numbers and their businesses’ registration certificates.






     

     

    All private and public partnership (PPP) agreements reached and signed with Ethiopian Airlines on the project are also to be presented to the committee, the letter specified.

    Meanwhile, the latest information on flight live tracker ‘flightrader24.com’ showed that the Boeing 737-800 flight had been back to regular service for Ethiopian Airlines on its Addis Ababa-Mogadishu route, which appears to be the same route it flew before being brought into Nigeria and presented as Nigeria Air’s aircraft.

    David Hundeyin, via his tweeter handle, had drawn public attention to the flight tracker.

    “The “Nigeria Air” Boeing 737-800 has had its hurried wrap job removed and is now back in regular service for @flyethiopian on its usual Addis Ababa- Mogadishu route – the same route it flew as recently as last week before being “commissioned” in Abuja by @hadisirika,” Hundeyin tweeted.

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