Armoured Cars For Aviation Minister: Price, Process Not Justifiable – Utho

A Public Affairs Analyst, Paul Utho has described recent developments in the Nigerian aviation sector as disturbing and worrisome considering the level of investment reported to have gone into the sector over the years.

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Mr Utho expressed disappointment that the same issues keep happening over and over again in the Nigerian aviation sector, referring to incidents of plane crashes and allegations of corruption.

According to him, “for NCAA to even come out to try to justify why bullet proof cars should be bought for the minister, makes you even begin to think that there is something really really wrong in the system”.

“If we were talking about the minister of Defence, I would have said ok, maybe some justifiable reasons. But for the minister of aviation, is it like she doesn’t fly anymore? Is it that she prefers to go by road now?”

Reacting to claims that the armoured cars are not for an individual but for the ministry, he asked, “Who is the head of the ministry? Who else is going to use the vehicle?” He insisted that it is illogical to spend N250 million on bulletproof cars in a country where ASUU has been on strike for 3 months, and the NCAA has over time complained over unavailability of funds.

He disagreed with claims by an NCAA official who stated on Sunrise Daily last week that funding was not a problem for the agency. He claimed that his interactions with officials who work in some of these agencies revealed that trainings are not regular, some technical staffs are totally left out of the little training, and some salaries are usually delayed.

On possible risks to the aviation minister’s life as it was in the case of former DG of NAFDAC, Professor Dora Akunyili, Mr Utho stated that Nigerians would have asked for bulletproof car to be purchased for the former DG because everyone felt the impact of her good job at the agency and therefore she should not be compared with the current Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah.

He also suggested that the figure quoted for the purchase of the cars leaves much to be desired as there are revelations that each of the cars should have cost N75 million . He spoke further on the manner in which they were purchased as having not followed the due process as well as on the alleged rot in the administration of airlines’ operation.

Mr Suraj Olanrewaju of the Movement Against Corruption also joined the discussion via phone to lend his voice to the issues. Supporting the allegations of corruption against the aviation sector, he queried why the NCAA or any other agency should be responsible for purchasing an official car for the minister when she is head of the Ministry of Aviation.

“For us (Movement Against Corruption), it is a clear situation of corruption, it is a clear situation of abuse of office, it is a violation, clear violation of the appropriation act 2013”.

They both called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to step into the matter.

FG To Help Nigerian Airlines Acquire New Aircraft

The new plan of intervention fund for the nation’s ailing aviation sector will not involve the release of cash to Nigerian airlines but a funding system will entail the purchase of brand new aircraft that the federal government is negotiating with aircraft manufacturers.

Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Mr George Uriesi.

The federal government will provide the funds to purchase the new aircraft on stringent conditions and at very low interest rate.

This clarification was made on Channels TV weekend breakfast programme; Sunrise, by the Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr George Uriesi,  where he explained that the Nigerian airlines that will benefit from the intervention will only enjoy such privilege based on stringent conditions.

According to FAAN’s MD, “the federal government of Nigeria is not buying any number of aircrafts that as being rumoured about. The government is just negotiating with aircraft manufacturers to supply brand new aircraft at globally competitive price to Nigerian airlines and funds to make the purchase will be provided by the government.”

It has been speculated that the federal government was about to purchase about 30 aircraft and practitioners in the aviation sector have been worried about how such aircraft will be distributed to the airlines operating in the nation’s airspace.

But Mr Uriesi debunked the claim about the purchase of 30 aircraft but confirmed the move on negotiating with aircraft manufacturers as part of the road map designed by the Ministry of Aviation to rescue the ailing sector.

He claimed that funds to buy these aircraft will be provided on very low interest rates instead of just giving the airlines funds from the intervention funds as it has being done twice before with no commensurate improvement in the sector.

“The interest rate will be single digit” he revealed.

This system, he notes will help address the issues of old aircraft that are plying the Nigerian airspace.

Merger for national carrier

He also denied reports that the federal government will be launching a new national carrier this year but however hinted that a merger of some notable airlines in the country will occur in the first quarter of the year and this merger will birth a national carrier that will be managed by the private sector.

“The federal government will not launch a new national carrier but it will help some new companies’ access funding to build a new national carrier” stated Mr Uriesi.

He further adds that “a couple of airlines will merge by March 2013 to emerge as the national carrier” and that “conditions that will enhance these developments are currently being put together.”

Part of the stringent conditions to access the scheme will be a thorough corporate governance structure within the prospective airlines.

When asked whether any airline in the Nigerian Aviation sector will be able to meet up to the stringent conditions at present, the FAAN boss claimed that the benefit of this new policy will be too good an offer, which would in turn make the airlines strive to operate even better.
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Nollywood dedicates “Last Flight to Abuja” to victims of the Dana crash

Producer of the award winning movie ‘Mirror Boy’, Obi Emelonye, has dedicated the premiere of his aviation inspired film “last flight to Abuja” to the victims of the June 3rd Dana Air crash.
The premiere which is set to take place on June 8, 2012 in London at the Troxy Cinema will start at 9pm.
According to a statement signed by the movie organizers ‘It is quite unfortunate that the plane crash occurred before the premiere of the movie. The movie is dedicated to all who lost their lives in the two ill fated crashes that involved Allied Air and Dana Air in Accra and Lagos.’
The organizers further said ‘ The movie is to express our solidarity with the feelings of everyone affected by both tragic events, especially those who have lost their loved ones. A minute silence will be observed before the film screens and the movie will be used as an advocacy tool to highlight the issues of air safety in Nigeria and Africa at large.’
‘Last flight to Abuja’ was inspired by the series of plane crash tragedies that rocked the Nigerian aviation sector in 2006.