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Fresh controversy as Documents show Buhari’s Minister lied on live TV

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Fresh controversy as Documents show Buhari’s Minister lied on live TV

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The controversy rocking the Nigeria Air project carried out by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has taken a new shape as a recent publication showed that the former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, gave Nigerians false narratives about the airline.

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It will be recalled that the ex-minister had unveiled the name and logo of the Nigeria Air at the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2018, with the promise that operation would begin within five months.

At the time, Sirika had said the airline would have flights on 81 domestic, regional and international routes.

But two months down the line, the Federal Government put the project on hold, saying it was a tough decision.

The ex-minister repeatedly assured Nigerians that the project would kick off, at some point disclosing the plan for aircraft which will be used in the fleet.

On May 26, 2023, the ministry under Sirika’s watch organised a programme for the unveiling of Nigeria Air.

At the event which held at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the minister expressed delight that the Federal Government had matched its words with action regarding the project.

There was a backlash after the event, especially over the Ethiopian Airlines plane that was used for the unveiling.

The ministry had avoided commenting on multiple issues raised, but in an ARISE Television interview, Sirika cleared the air and addressed multiple issues.

But the former minister denied the involvement of the aviation ministry in the unveiling, putting it at the door step of Ethiopian Airlines, which has 49 per cent majority shares in the project.

“It was the owners of Nigeria Air, the consortium of the federal government (five per cent) that decided to do the unveiling as part of their marketing strategy. So it is not the government that was doing the unveiling to start the operations. Not at all. It was them who did it and I was invited,” Sirika had said on the live television programme.

However, several documents in the public domain revealed that the unveiling was organised by the Ministry of Aviation.

An invitation letter was issued by the ministry inviting guests to the launch.

The invitation letter read: “The Federal Ministry of Aviation cordially requests your presence at the official unveiling of Nigeria Air.”

The venue of the unveiling was put as Nigeria Air Operations Control Centre, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Also, the order of event saw the Permanent Secretary in the ministry reading the welcome address followed by the goodwill messages by Chairmen, Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Aviation.

The next speaker according to the order of event was the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines while the minister unveiled the aircraft.

Some aviation stakeholders who spoke to our correspondent confirmed that they received invitation from the ministry.

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