JUST IN: GREAT NEWS!!! Buhari’s Top Minister Rolls Out Powerful National Plan, As The APC-led FG Set To Fulfill Another Major Campaign Promise, Ahead Of 2019 

By Joshua Amaugo July 9, 2018 14:28

JUST IN: GREAT NEWS!!! Buhari’s Top Minister Rolls Out Powerful National Plan, As The APC-led FG Set To Fulfill Another Major Campaign Promise, Ahead Of 2019 

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to fulfill yet another campaign promise, ahead of the 2019 Presidential poll, as latest reports have revealed the Federal Government’s proposed action plan to unveil a national carrier.

Recall, that President Buhari during the build-up of the 2015 Presidential election, had promised to re-brand Nigeria’s long overdue national carrier, which he said was moribund by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, leadership.

Post-Nigeria gathered that it is over 14 years, since the liquidation of the Nigeria Airways, by the administration of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Efforts to bring back the carrier by successive governments have been futile, with the country unable to raise her head high among the comity of nations, while Nigerian travelers are denied the opportunity of low-cost flying experience.

In the absence of a national carrier, coupled with lack of strong flag carriers from Nigeria, the nation has suffered unquantifiable losses from the various Bilateral Air Service Agreements, BASAs, entered into with other countries.

While many foreign airlines operate into Nigeria, the country is unable to reciprocate the pacts, making the BASAs lopsided and highly skewed in favor of other countries.

President Buhari on assumption of office, had appointed Advisers to help him set up a national airline and develop its aviation infrastructure; currently seen as a barrier to economic growth, to create a hub for West Africa.

According to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, a group of six firms, including German carrier, Lufthansa, would advise the government on setting up an airline, an aviation leasing company, and a maintenance hangar, and on creating concessions to run the country’s Airports.

In one of the cabinet meetings, chaired by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, President Buhari had approved N1.52 billion ($4.99 million), of funding for the project.

In a bid to fully drive home the President’s campaign promise, latest reports have it that the Federal Government would unveil Nigeria’s re-branded national carrier, in December, 2018.

Sirika in a statement by the Ministry’s Deputy Director, Media and Public Affairs, James Odaudu, said: “There is no doubt that the issue of national carrier for Nigeria is very close to the hearts of both the government and the people, which is the reason it has taken the option of a Public-Private partnership, with the belief that it was the only way to deliver a national carrier that would stand the test of time.”

Sirika also expressed satisfaction with the way the Transaction Advisers had carried out their assignments, with utmost diligence and timeliness.

He assured that the National Carrier that would be delivered, would be world class in operation and management.

The Minister said that the presentation of the certificate, was a testament on how far the project had gone.

The proposed airline will gulp $8.8 million as preliminary cost, and $300 million as take-off cost. The project would be executed through a Public Private Partnership, PPP.

Sirika noted further, that Nigeria would receive the first set of five airplanes for the airliner, on December 19.
The airline would make a profit in three years, after operations, he said.

“We will make the investments and follow the business plan through private sector management. We intend to get a 30 aircraft market in five years. But we will begin with five aircraft on the day of launch.”

Sirika added: “At Farnborough International Public Air show, coming July 18, 2018, in London, we will unveil the name, logo, color scheme, the structure, and the type of airplane about the national carrier. We will also place the order for the aircraft at the event.”

The Minister, explained that the government would step in to cover the funding gap, at the onset and exit later.

He said that the government would not get involved in the management of the national carrier, adding that, Nigeria’s population of over 180 million people, is huge enough to support aviation, and that the airline would take advantage of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA, that the country had with over 70 countries.

According to him, it would also take advantage of the Africa Single Air Transport Market, and would be the best player, if the government gets it right.

“But if we do not, it will become a threat to us. But I believe we are on the right track”, he said.

The Minister, also gave an assurance that the national carrier would not kill the domestic airlines operating in the country.

He commended the efforts of the ICRC Director General and his team, in ensuring that the National Carrier project remained on track, through the observation of all legal aid regulatory frameworks.

Also speaking, the Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, Mr. Chidi Izuwah, said the presentation of the Certificate of Compliance, was an official green light to proceed with the procurement process.

According to him, start-up cost over the next three years is about $300 million, but pre-start-up is $8.8 million.

“The rest of the investment will be equity injection, which will happen in tranches, because you do not need all the monies at once. External capital injection also depends on the profitability of the airline. Though you need that initial government finance to make it take off, but what is important is that the national carrier will be entirely private sector controlled”, he said, adding: “There will be zero government interference. But if that happens, it invalidates the certificate and the entire process.”

He said his Commission, in granting the Certificate, reviewed the Project Structuring Report, also known as the Outline Business Case, in line with the ICRC Act of 2005.

According to Izuwah: “The Certificate was granted on the condition that the Federal Government has committed to leveraging on private sector capital and expertise, towards the establishment of the national carrier, through the provision of a Viability Gap Funding for the project.”

He stated other conditions for granting the Certificate of Compliance to an official commitment to zero contribution to airline management decisions, and zero government control, warning that any attempt to impose government control, would invalidate the Certificate and the entire process.

The ICRC Director-General, commended the Minister for his commitment to changing the face of aviation in Nigeria, through infrastructural renaissance, and said that the PPP remains the only viable option for Nigeria, in view of dwindling national resources.

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