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Who Will Liberate Air Travelers From the Grip of Nigerian Airline Operators?



On 26th May 2023, at the twilight of President Mohammadu Buhari’s government, the core investor, Ethiopian Air, and the other investors (Federal Government inclusive) in the national carrier, Nigeria Air
unveiled the model aircraft for Nigeria,

The aircraft was an Ethiopian Air aircraft a Boeing 737-800 with registration number ET – APL. This unveiling generated a frenzy across the country based on hugely distorted stories that made the round to give the airline and the then Minister Sen. Hadi Sirika a bad name just to kill the airline, which would no doubt be a liberator of local and international Nigerian air travelers.

Justification for a National Carrier

The national carrier will reduce annual capital flight from Nigeria to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by carrying a chunk of the over two million international passengers; Floating a National Carrier will enable Nigeria to gain optimal benefits from the BASA Agreements; improve national image and prestige; National Carrier will be carried out using PPP concept; and the National carrier will be expected to form alliance and/or Joint Venture with other airlines to increase reach and number of routes (code-share flights).

Also, the National Carrier may introduce competition leading to fare drop and better services; it will also generate employment for Nigerians; it will have a multiplier effect on the economy through the establishment of support services such as tourism and hospitality services and the national carrier is essential for the development of a hub.

The Gang Up Against Nigeria Air

Some of the distorted stories on Nigeria Air and Sirika led by the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) included that; the FG launched the airline for scheduled operations even when the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) had not been issued by the regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). They also claimed the process leading to Ethiopian Air emerging as the core investor was shrouded in secrecy and that ET was handed 49 percent majority equity for free as they wouldn’t be making any financial commitments.

This is even when Sen. Sirika had clarified that Nigeria Air had been previously unveiled but hasn’t been launched for flight operations.

He also clarified that the business had a total of $250 million in initial investments from all partners. Out of this ET should pay about $125.5 million being 49 percent equity in the deal after the shareholders’ agreement is signed. Every other investor will pay its equity value. It is only the 5 percent of government equity that will be in kind for rentals, and services. Don’t forget the FG has been spending money on the project thus after computation, if it is above 5 percent, they get a refund, if it is less, the FG will upscale its services to 5 percent, the ex-minister clarified recently.

They also accused Hadi Sirika to have squandered N85 billion on Nigeria Air thus, should be invested for alleged corruption, an accusation that turned out to be completely false as the ex-minister public said less than N3 billion was approved for Nigeria Air in seven years and not all the funds had been expended.

Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, the Spokesman, for AON had claimed in a statement that “As indigenous operators, we are happy and grateful to the NCAA for saving us from this punishment by resisting the pressure from Minister Hadi Sirika to grant an AOC to Nigeria Air without going through the due process.”

However, the Ex-Minister had told Nigerians and indeed the global aviation community during the stakeholders’ meeting on March 23rd, 2023, and at the May 26th model aircraft unveiling event that the regulatory process to obtain an AOC for Nigeria Air was still being followed strictly and the NCAA wasn’t on any pressure to circumvent the rules. That much the NCAA had confirmed at all the stakeholders’ meetings.

The AON had also claimed that the Ministerial Committee on the Establishment of a National Carrier recommended the establishment of a National Carrier that is private sector-driven with minimum government involvement. As soon as that recommendation was jettisoned every other thing about Nigeria Air was engulfed in secrecy. ICRC in a recent regulatory report debunked that claim.

Sirika also told Arise TV that the procurement was advertised in Nigerian papers and the Economist of London. There was a bidders’ conference and the members of AON participated. Air Peace participated. The regulators were there. Everything was hosted on the websites of both the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the ICRC. ET won the bidding, so where is the secrecy? Hadi asked. We had eight stakeholders’ conferences where Nigeria Air was discussed. AON members were present and some even made presentations during the stakeholders’ conferences.

“The ICRC provided the required guidance for the implementation of the project in line with the requirements of the ICRC Establishment Act 2005 and the National Policy on PPPs. Following the guidance provided,” it said.

The ICRC said after 10 weeks of advertisement, only the Ethiopian Airlines consortium submitted a bid and that the project proceeded to the negotiation stage, based on Section 5 (a) of the ICRC Establishment Act 2005.

The section states that if after advertisement in accordance with Section 4 of this Act only one contractor or project proponent applied or submits a bid or proposal, or only one contractor or project proponent meets the prequalification requirements, the ministry, agency, corporation, body may undertake direct negotiation without competitive bidding for any contract to be entered into, pursuant to Section 1 of the Act.

It continued, “The consortium was thereafter requested to meet and resolve all their issues and present a common position for the purpose of negotiations and executing the PPP agreement with the government. They were unable to resolve their issues and sign the shareholder’s agreement as requested.

Ethiopian Airline has 49 percent; MRS Oil and Gas Limited, 15 percent; SAHCO, 15 percent; Federal Government, five percent while 16 percent had yet to be allotted

Recall that AON had gone to court seeking to stop the floating of the airline citing unfair competition and that ET will shortchange Nigeria.

Sirika however revealed that the prior discussions on the structure was that all the crew, pilots, engineers, and cabin crew must be Nigerians once they are competent. On the management of the airline, it is the shareholders that will be decided who gets what. But the company will be operated within the law.

On AON’s claim that ET will be handed 15 years tax holidays for Nigeria Air, the ex-Minister had told Arise T V that it has been rescinded. It will operate and enjoy the same tax parameters as local airlines.

We have supported local airlines. 50 percent of local airlines came on board during our tenure. We have removed some taxes like customs duties and VAT on aircraft and spares. We have given them a bailout and more, this is unprecedented.

Industry analysts have hailed the choice of Ethiopian Airlines as the core investor because of their competence and capacity.

They said with the national carrier, the local airfare will reduce significantly as there will be effective competition with the local carriers who have held passengers, hostage.

“Ethiopians are masters of the game. They have been in business for over 77 years. They also posted profit during COVID when most airlines posted losses. In 2022 they posted a profit of $1bn. Once the AOC is ready, they will hit the ground running” Mr. David Akwu, an Economics analyst reechoed what the ex-minister had consistently said.

He also the gang up by some local airlines shows they don’t want to innovate and run their business in a cost-efficient and profitable manner.

“The Nigerian airlines need to retool their business model, finances, and corporate governance. Corporate governance in Nigerian airlines is zero hence the high mortality rate of local airlines” he stated.


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The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has added another feather to its cap with its acceptance into the Marine Accident Investigators’ International Forum (MAIIF).

The Forum was founded in June 1992 as an international non-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of maritime safety and prevention of marine pollution through the exchange of ideas, experiences and information acquired in marine accident investigation,

A statement by NSIB’s Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Dr James Odaudu said Forum’s main goal is to promote and improve marine accident investigation, and to foster cooperation and communication between marine accident investigators around the world.

The NSIB was established by the Federal Government under the NSIB Act 2022 and is charged with the responsibility of investigating accidents and serious incident occurrences in Air, Rail, Marine and other modes of transportation in Nigeria and anywhere else Nigeria interest is affected, with the aim of enhancing safety in the transportation sector.

The fundamental objective of the Bureau is to improve transportation safety by determining the circumstances and causes of Air, Rail, Marine and other modes of transportation accidents as well as proffering safety recommended to prevent reoccurrence.

This induction into MAIIF sets NSIB on the path to even greater successes in its investigative prowess particularly in Maritime investigations and solidifies Nigeria premier spot in Africa as regards transportation accidents and serious incidents investigation.

With MAIIF having over 31 member countries cutting across Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa NSIB joins Capo Verde as the second African member.

Engr Akin Olateru
Director-General, Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau

Speaking on the admission, the NSIB Director-General, Engr Akin Olateru said it would guarantee the nation’s access to international collaboration and assistance from nations involved in maritime safety investigation, similar to what it is already benefiting from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Banjul Accord Group Investigation Agency (BAGIA), African Civil Aviation Commission (AfCAC) in the aviation sector.

According to him, the membership of organisation will further improve the Nations maritime safety and follow global standards in carrying out its investigations

‘This is a step in the right direction for us as a Nation by joining forums like this where we can exchange information, knowledge and ideas’ said Olateru.

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Flight Diversion: NCAA Investigates United Nigeria Airlines ✈️



By Elizabeth Okwe

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has commenced investigation into the circumstances surrounding United Nigeria flight NUA 0506 to Asaba and the confusion it has created in the public domain.

This is according to a statement signed by the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu.

The statement however affirmed that preliminary steps have been taken pending conclusions of ongoing investigation.

“The Authority wishes to reassure the traveling public that it will leave no stone unturned as it has always done in the past to ensure continued safety of the aviation industry” it concluded.

But in its defence few hours after the incident, United Nigeria Airlines claimed the flight was diverted to Asaba as a result of bad weather.

Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, the airline spokesperson, said the pilot was properly briefed about the diversion, noting that the cabin crew made “wrong announcement upon landing safely in Asaba [and] created confusion among the passengers.”

Capt. Musa Nuhu DG, CAA

However, unconfirmed reports indicate that the regulatory agency may have suspended the operations of wetleased aircraft in the stable of United Nigeria Airlines pending the conclusion of the investigations.

According to the sources, the Civil Aviation Authority is not satisfied with the explanations of the airline and is determined to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the flight misdirection.

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Omni-Blu AOC: Olateru Duely Resigned as Director of Airline, NCAA DG Affirms



Contrary to recent reports regarding the involvement of the Director-General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Engr Akin Olateru in the management of Omni-Blu Aviation, a jet and helicopter charter company, it has been revealed that the NSIB Director-General actually resigned his position as a Director in the company before taking up appointment with the company.

Director general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu who has put the controversy to rest, has also revealed that the documents provided by the management of Omni-Blu aviation show that the Director General of Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Engr. Akin Olateru, duly resigned from the company before taking up appointment with government.

Capt. Musa Nuhu DG, NCAA

The NCAA DG spoke yesterday at the launch of a book ‘Handbook on Public Relation Practice and Aviation Reporting’, written by Sam Adurogboye, former public relations manager of NCAA.

He said the NCAA only asked somes questions in the course of the processing of the AOC which some quarters have conined to be suspension.

“It is unfortunate that it is coined that NCAA has suspended the AOC processes of Omni-Blu Aviation. One of the directors of Omni-Blu who is DG NSIB, Engr. Akin Olateru, a very close colleague and a friend of mine is a shareholder in Ombi-Blu and this was something he had before he came to the public service. Just because you came to public service does not mean you should wipe off your previous years.

Engr Akin Olateru
Director-General /CEO, NSIB

“There was just a question from NCAA that it appears there was a conflict between this application and the Act of NSIB and NCAA. So, they were asked to respond and they responded. He has provided all the documents, he has shown proof he has resigned and he has declared his interest in those organisations. So, he has provided the appropriate documentation to show that there is no conflict of interest.

“We cannot wipe out our previous lives just because we got to work for government, but there are conditions. In an industry that you are a CEO or a staff, you cannot have an interest, but there are procedures and he has given proof for those procedures; he has showed us that he actually resigned and that letter is actually confirmed by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). He showed that he has done all the necessary declarations to show that he has resigned.

“The only thing is that he has given the necessary documents required, but we have to take it through the normal procedures, legal process so that when documentation is done that he has been cleared, somebody tomorrow will not go and challenge it. It is important to go through the process of clearing him so that the records are put there. Anybody that comes in the future, can look at the file, see that the issue was raised, but the appropriate information had been provided and individual is cleared”, he said.

Nuhu said the process would be completed during the new week.

“However, in this new week. It would have been done, but our legal adviser travelled out with me. So, we will work on it and the process will continue.”, he added.

He said the conflict of interest aspect has also be resolved.

It was reported last week that the NCAA had suspended the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) processes for Omn-Blu Aviation (OBA), which would enable it to operate as a scheduled operator.

Ombi-Blu currently operates as a chartered helicopter and jet company.

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