‘Sirika a drowning man,’ Lawmaker reacts to ex-minister’s 5% claim on Nigeria Air

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The former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnaji Nnolim, has reacted to a claim credited to the immediate past minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, on the Nigeria Air.

Sirika, who appeared in a programme on Arise TV Sunday, alleged that Nnolim demanded a five percent stake in the national carrier.

He also berated the lawmaker for having a pre-conceived opinion on the project.

The committee had earlier this month ordered the suspension of flight operations and other actions associated with the Nigeria Air project.

Nnolim, who spoke at the House investigative hearing in Abuja, described the unveiling of Nigeria Air as a fraud and called for the prosecution of individuals or organizations involved in the exercise.

The lawmaker, who reacted to the ex-minister’s claim in a statement on Friday night, branded him a liar.

He said Sirika was unhappy he demanded transparency on the Nigeria Air project and other matters relating to the aviation sector.

He said: “Sirika is a drowning man struggling to grab anything on his way to survive the barrage of attacks he has been receiving since his controversial unveiling ceremony of the so called Nigeria Air.

“Ordinarily l would not have bothered to reply to his allegations of my demand for 5 percent equity in Nigeria Air as he claimed during his interview on Arise Television but l believe l owe my constituents and indeed Nigerians a duty to put the records straight.

“It is on record that last year when the minister announced Ethiopian Airlines as core investor in Nigeria Air, my committee which was also inundated with petitions from various stakeholders regarding that announcement invited the minister and his team to furnish the committee with the details of the project.

READ ALSO: Sirika alleges Reps committee chairman asked for 5% stake in Nigeria Air

“The committee requested the evidence of the bid process that gave Ethiopian Airlines the award and, the full business case as prepared by the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, (ICRC) which was supposed to spell out the details of all the investors and their equity contributions.

“Of course, we suspended our discussions and inquiries on the project the moment the court got involved. Normally when a matter is before the court the parliament does not discuss it.

“However, on May 20th, 2023, l received reports of threats of mass resignations by key personnel of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) due to pressures from the Ministry to give waivers to Nigeria Air to enable it to secure Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) so that it could take off before the exit of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“I quickly issued a statement warning the former Minister against subverting the authority of NCAA because of its severe consequences on Nigeria’s air transport sector. It is also common knowledge that the Nigerian institutional investors he mentioned as participants have all denied him.

“It is not strange that Sirika came up with this spurious allegation against my person because l remained consistent in demanding that he followed due process.

“He should not deviate from the subject matter. Let him tell Nigerians the truth about the contraption he sold to us as Nigeria Air. Nnolim Nnaji is not his problem.”

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