The immediate-past Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, Senator Hadi Sirika, on Sunday, disclosed that the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari did not pay for the chartered Ethiopian Airline plane unveiled as ‘Nigeria Air’.
In an interview on Arise News Channel, Sirika stated, “The AOC owned by Ethiopian Airline is known to Nigeria and the NCAA. They are permitted to come in either with scheduled passengers, chartered, or cargo. They have to come in under one of the 3. So, they came as chartered. Being chartered does not mean that anybody paid for anything. The government did not pay a dime for that aircraft to come in.”
Regarding the expenditures for the Nigeria Air project, Sirika clarified, “From 2016 to 2023, all of the money voted and budgeted for Nigeria Air is N5 billion. But all that was released was in the neighborhood of N3 billion, not N85 billion, and not all of the N3 billion has been expended as of the time I left office.”
He further emphasized, “No contract was awarded by Hadi Sirika, these are the things the money was used for. And there is the Freedom of Information Act, people can apply and get all the information about what the money has been used for. The N85 billion being mentioned is only in the imagination of the people carrying it about.”
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Sirika also highlighted that the Ethiopian aircraft showcased as part of the project’s success was chartered, saying, “If anybody was to pay for it, it would have been the Ethiopian Airline, not the Nigerian government. No penny was paid.”
He added, “Secondly, there was no revenue passenger in the aircraft because that would have been totally against the law and wouldn’t have been allowed. It was their own marketing strategy as equity partners. They came to do this unveiling on a special allowance called chartered, and it does not mean that we paid for it.”