Hadi Sirika Accuses Lawmaker of Demanding 5% Stake in Nigeria Air
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The immediate past Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, has accused the Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Mr Nnolim Nnaji, of demanding a 5 per cent stake in controversial Nigeria Air.
Mr Sirika made this allegation while appearing on Arise TV’s ThisDay Live on Sunday evening, monitored by Business Post.
About a day to the end of the tenure of the immediate past President, Mr Muhammadu Buhari, the former Minister launched the national carrier in Abuja.
This raised dust in the media, compelling the House of Representatives to conduct a hearing, where the acting Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Mr Dapo Olumide, declared that the chartered Ethiopia Airlines aircraft showcased as Nigeria Air was brought in to let Nigerians know how the logo would be on a real aeroplane.
At the hearing, Mr Nnaji declared the launch of Nigeria Air a fraud, charging President Bola Tinubu to probe the process and prosecute those involved in the sham.
But on Sunday, Mr Sikira said the lawmaker described the process as a fraud because he was not allowed to own a 5 per cent stake in Nigeria Air Limited.
“On the issue of Honourable Nnaji, who called Nigeria Air launch a fraud, I will respond now. I will say exactly what I told him in private when we spoke.”
“Hon Nnaji asked me that I give him 5% of Nigeria to carry him along with his people, and I told him at that time, Honourable, a bidding process that has taken place, and some people won. So, I think you should go to those people and ask for the 5 per cent,” he said.
When asked by the show anchor, Mr Reuben Abati, if the bribe was for committee members, Mr Sirika said, “Let’s be fair, Hon Nnaji didn’t say other members. He said he wanted it for himself and his people.
“His people could be his family, could be members, and it could be leadership. I don’t know, but he insisted on 5 per cent. I said that he should relax and approach the owners. That’s exactly what I told him.”
Recall that at the end of the hearing by the lower chamber of the National Assembly, Mr Nnaji said the parliament was not part of the controversial Nigeria Air project because the process was not transparent.
“A careful review of the process indicates the exercise to be highly opaque, shrouded in secrecy, shoddy and capable of ridiculing and tarnishing the image of Nigeria before the international community,” he said.
The lawmaker criticised Ethiopia Airlines for its role in the process.
“We are equally irked by the role played by Ethiopian Airlines in this whole process. It does not speak well of the excellent brotherly relationship existing between our two nations,” he said.