The federal government has disclosed that Nigeria’s national carrier, Air Nigeria, is expected to take off by April 2022.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this to State House correspondents yesterday after the 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 and Nigerian entrepreneurs 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.
He said, “Today in Council, civil aviation presented two memoranda. 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 at 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.
“It is called ‘the truth machine’ in a quotation in Europe because all of the truth of regulation of civilisation 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 is 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 a completion period of six months. So that’s the first memoranda.
“This 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.
“The structure of the proposed airline: the government will be owning not more than 5%. Not more than 5%, below 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 partners 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.
“But one important item is the AU agenda 2063, which speaks to the integration of Africa, which speaks to intra-Africa trade and to which also is another flagship project of AU agenda 2063 called the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).”
He further stated that the quickest way to 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.
“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. It is part of AU Agenda 2063. So, these are the two memoranda that were submitted, and gladly they were passed by Council.
“The name is Nigeria Air, which of course, if you remember back in time, this was subjected to a national debate and 400,000 people participated, chose 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 added.