…Says FG never spent $8.8m on branding
…’No foreign firm paid $600,000 for logo design’
Better late than never, the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has explained that apart from commitments in respect of transaction advisory services, branding and participation at Farnborough Air show, no other expenditure has been incurred on the Nigeria Air Project.
Sirika, while speaking on Thursday at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum at the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Conference Centre, Abuja, explained that the Nigeria Air project was suspended because of the extra 13 months it took for the Transaction advisers to complete the works after they took over from Lufthansa who brought in some outlandish demands to be transaction advisers.
Sirika, who debunked claims from quarters that $8.8 million was expended at the Farnborough Airshow, stated that it is misinformation, factual errors and insinuations being peddled in both social and print media on the Nigeria Air Project.
He, however, debunked media publications on payment of dollars to a foreign company, stating that no foreign company was paid $600,000 for the design of the logo of Nigeria Air, the proposed National carrier, as being speculated on those quarters.
He said , “Apart from commitments in respect of transaction advisory services, branding and participation at Farnborough Airshow, no other expenditure has been incurred on the Nigeria Air Project.”
He further explained that due process was followed in the branding of the Nigeria Air project, which included obtaining ‘’No Objection’’ Certificate with Ref. No.BPP/RPT/18/VOL.1/075 from the Bureau of Public Procurement for the sum of N50,893,000.00, and in retaining the services of the company and Certificate of “No Objection” Ref. No. BPP/ RPT/ 18/ VOL 1/095 in the sum of N40, 219,769.20.
He, however, pointed out that payment for these services are yet to be made, adding that even though the project was suspended, all obligations will be met.
The minister also explained the propriety of the Federal Ministry of Aviation’s participation at Farnborough Airshow, saying that there was the need to go to a place where there is visibility to launch the airline, as that is the purpose of air shows.
“Farnborough Airshow is a bi-annual Global Aviation event, which provided a perfect opportunity to unveil the National Carrier. It created visibility and connected manufacturers, investors and financiers. It also gave the opportunity to showcase all the projects in the Aviation roadmap.
“For such event, the air show, the services of a consultant was retained to arrange for the participation of the Nigerian Delegation (hiring of exhibition booth, meeting venues, obtaining relevant passes for delegates, facilitating meetings with prospective investors, logistics, souvenirs, branding materials, meals etc).”
Commenting on the suspension of Nigeria Air, Sirika said Lufthansa had come in with an independent bid to become transaction adviser which is also practice but gave some conditions which included tax-free holidays and an upfront payment of 75 per cent, and for government to pay the upfront into an escrow account.
On reports that there were no investors for the project, Sirika said: “We do have partners, we do have investors. Already, IsDB, AfDB, AFREXIM, US-EXIM, Standard Chartered Bank, Boeing, Airbus, COMAC/CCECC, BOAD, China-Exim, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Deutche Infrastructure Finance, French and US Governments, etc, have indicated interest in the project.
You can write direct and ask these partners so as to know that they are not fabricated.”
Sirika further explained that the government was not establishing the national carrier to suffocate domestic carriers, but use it as a tool to stimulate overall air passenger travel demand, develop new routes.