The spokesperson of the domestic airline association, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Obiora Okonkwo, has tackled the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, for insisting that the national carrier, Nigeria Air, will be commissioned before his tenure ends on Monday, 23 May.
Recall that Prime Business Africa reported this week that Nigeria Air plans to take delivery of some aircraft, as Sirika continues his push to commission the national carrier.
According to Okonkwo in a statement on Friday, an aircraft flying into Nigeria and bearing Nigerian colours does not change anything.
He questioned why Sirika is the only one talking about Nigeria Air and other promoters of the national carrier have not been answering relevant questions about their stakes in Nigeria Air.
“Furthermore, the fact that the minister has just a few more days left of his time in office, makes it necessary that promoters of the airline, if they exist, other than Sirika, should be talking to Nigerians, telling them what they ought to know and answering relevant questions about their stakes in Nigeria Air.
“Hadi Sirika knows that until the order is vacated, the ministry of aviation cannot proceed with any action toward the airline,” the domestic airline operators clarified.
In the statement, AON argued that Sirika is flagrantly disobeying court orders in a bid to float Nigeria Air 72 hours before he exits his position as minister of aviation.
“All of these statements and actions are in flagrant disobedience of the orders of the federal high court of Nigeria which halted the said moves by the minister to float the said airline until the determination of the substantive suit brought by AON against it.
“We make bold to respond because of the myriad of inquiries from concerned and patriotic Nigerians and industry stakeholders who have either called or sent messages over the minister’s comments.
“For the avoidance of doubt, AON welcomes the establishment of more airlines in Nigeria for we believe that the skies are big enough to accommodate all. However, AON is against any contraption that is shadowy and not in the best interest of the country.
“We need the outgoing minister to come forward, defend, and counter the very damning submissions in our suit.”
Okonkwo said Sirika is aware of the different court orders against him and Nigeria Air, adding that his action could result in contempt of court charge “as he is not above the law and can not freely disregard the courts,” he wrote.
The spokesperson also faulted Sirika for claiming the Airline Operating Certificate (AOC) is at stage five when it is only at stage one.
“AON is also aware, like the minister and promoters of Nigeria Air, that the process of acquiring airline operating certificate (AOC) for Nigeria Air is only at stage one contrary to his televised statement that the Nigerian Air AOC process was at stage five.
“The world is watching the regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Nigerian Air and its AOC. The NG Eagles’ AOC is equally a matter for another day.”