The President of Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr. Gabriel Olowo, has condemned the Federal Government for earmarking N8.5bn for the suspended national carrier project, Nigeria Air in the 2019 budget proposal to the National Assembly.
Olowo specifically castigated the government for setting aside the sum of N500m for Transaction Advisers in the budget, saying that a little of such an amount of money if allocated to technical professionals in the country,
would give the government appropriate advice on how to go about the birth of a befitting national carrier for the nation.
Olowo stated this yesterday in Lagos at the launch of a book ‘The Learned Commander,’ authored by Capt. Dele Ore, an erstwhile Director of Operations of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways.
Olowo insisted that the government was not following the right path in establishing a new national carrier for the country and urged it to consult locally from professionals in the sector on how to re-establish a new national airline for Nigeria.
He said: “I read it somewhere that the Federal Government proposed another N8.5bn for the establishment of a new national carrier for Nigeria in the 2019 budget proposal to the National Assembly. Out of this money, N500m was set aside for Transaction Advisers.
“If you give the N500m to people like Dele Ore and co, they will advise you better on how to have a befitting national carrier.
However, ART as a body will continue to fight for the interest of the former staff of Nigeria Airways. We will continue to drum it to the ears of the government that what is due to them is paid.”
Also speaking in an interview with journalists, Capt. Ore expressed sadness over the liquidation of the airline almost 16 years later, saying that the staffers were poorly treated by the government.
He insisted that the government was wrongly advised on the liquidation of the airline, adding that another national carrier may not berth until all the former staff members were properly remunerated by the government.
He explained that late Umaru Yar’Adua paid five years severance packages of the retired staff, while President Goodluck Jonathan who took over from him refused to pay the staff of the liquidated carrier.
He, however, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for paying a part of the severance package but lamented that he and a few others who retired before the airline was liquidated were still not properly paid their dues.
He said: “Nigeria Airways was all I know in my entire life. In fact, someone boasted that once they remove an airplane from me, I will be empty. I retired shortly before the airline was liquidated by the Federal Government.
The government was ill-advised. It was a costly mistake. To liquidate the airline and not settling the staff was another crime against the staff.
ART boss berates FG for budgeting N8.5bn for national carrier in 2019
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