Mr Hadi irika, the former Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, has said that N3 billion out of the budget of N5 billion had so far been released by the Federal Government for the establishment of Nigeria Air.
The N3 billion, he explained had been completely spent.
Sirika who was guest on Sunday in Abuja during a programme on Arise TV, said that from 2016 to 2023, the budget for the Nigeria Air is N5 billion, and only N3 billion was released.
The N3 billion, he said had not been completely spent.
He said the government of Nigeria did not pay a dime for the May 26 unveiling of Nigeria Air.
“It is ridiculous to think that we’ll hire and paint an aircraft for N138 billion which could get us five new Boeing 777max.
“We are responsible people and the general public should approach Ministry of Information and apply for the right of information to see for themselves.
Sirika admitted that the aircraft used for the launch of Nigerian Air belonged to Ethiopian Airline, but added that government did not pay for the aircraft as it was brought by Ethiopian Airlines to demonstrate their commitment to the project.
“The AOC owned by Ethiopian Airline is known to Nigeria and the NCAA, they are permitted to come in either with scheduled passengers, chattered or cargo. They have to come in under one of the 3.
“So, they came as chartered. Being chartered does not mean that anybody paid for anything. The government did not pay a dime for that aircraft to come in.
“Secondly, there was no revenue passenger in the aircraft because that would have been totally against the law and wouldn’t have been allowed. It was their own marketing strategy as equity partners.
“They came to do this unveiling on a special allowance called chartered and it does not mean that we paid for it.
“It is their own marketing strategy as equity partners that they came to do this unveiling on a special allowance which is called chartered flight.
“Chartered does not mean they paid for it. If there is anybody that paid for it, it would have been the Ethiopian Airline. No penny is paid,” Sirika said.
According to him, former President Olusegun Obasanjo handed Nigeria Airways to his friend company, Arik Air, which is indebted to the tune of over N300 billion, of which Nigeria taxpayers money is N250 billion via AMCON.
“So, do we hand it over to Arik?” he asked, rhetorically.
Ethiopia Airlines was the preferred bidder and holds 49 percent shares in Nigeria Air while Nigerian government owns just 5 percent and the remaining private.