…as only N5bn disbursed to some airlines since January
Posted by Sade Williams
Aviation stakeholders, including airline operators, have asked the Ministry of Aviation to give full disclosure and details about the disbursement of the N27 billion released to the aviation industry as stimulus package to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic which crippled world’s economy in 2020.
Only N5 billion was released by the Ministry of Aviation to some airlines, all the ground handling companies, travel agencies and car hire operators since January 2021 as it remains unclear what the balance of N22 billion would be used for.
Airlines like Aero Contractors, West Link, TAL Helicopters and a few others, it was gathered, are are yet to receive their own share of the initial N5 billion.
Although, the minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had claimed the remaining N22bn would be expended on aviation roadmap and national carrier, an operator had asked, ‘what are these roadmap and why the failed national carrier project?’
Speaking on the palliative, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, Chief Executive Officer of of West Link Airline described the whole scenario as a mirage, adding that even after submitting details of account and company, nothing was forthcoming.
“The whole thing is a mirage. I don’t know what is going on. I have not received. There are some people who have received? My office submitted the necessary documents. I am a member of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON). There is no leadership of AON as far as I am concerned because we are already in court. The minister and all the relevant people were served. They said we should submit our account and other details to the ministry of aviation for the collection of palliative. We wrote to the minister directly and attention the committee, which was received”, he said.
On the entire N27bn released by the government, he said, ‘I am not aware of this at all, but what I can say is that everything seems to be shrouded in secrecy. Nobody knows anything. I know government has given us money and I heard some people have not received. I know other colleagues who has not equally received.
“It is obvious the ministry just handpicked those they wanted. They don’t want to give. It appears that we are less in number that didn’t receive. It is obvious a few of us were targeted. Whatever reason, I don’t know. Nobody has called me why I have not received and when I will receive it”, he added.
Another operator, Engr. Femi Adeniji, Chief Executive Officer of Tropical Arctic Logistics (TAL) Helicopter Company. who also spoke on the matter noted that all his efforts to get his own share of the palliative has proved abortive adding that just like some airlines that got the palliative, salaries are still being owed and staff are complaining in his company.
According him, ‘I have tried, I have called the Federal Ministry of Aviation; I have four helicopters that I am operating. They asked us to send account numbers, which we did. Even up to last Friday, I still called them to find out what is going on. Unfortunately, I was in the US when my company’s name was published as among those who will receive the palliative, but we have not gotten anything up until now.
“They said they were going to give it to us, salaries are still being owed, staff are complaining. If they say they are going to give us, let them give us. They should not put it in the newspapers and nothing happens thereafter. I understand they got N25bn from the government and they are giving us N5bn. Even at that, why give some airlines and not give the others?”, he asked.
Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd), a former commandant of Lagos airport and chief executive officer of Centurion aviation said there is need to ask the National Assembly to also explain how much was given to the agencies, the airlines and the amount budgeted for the establishment of national carrier.
“If the airlines are getting palliatives to revamp their operations and pay salaries, we should expect same for the government agencies too for their equipment and staff; how much for these? We need to know for the six aviation agencies; how much for the new ‘national carrier’? We need to know. So, we ne to ask the NASS Senate and House of Representatives that approved the money and the ministry that is disbursing it”.
Also speaking, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, former General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees(NUATE), said that the agencies are still struggling to get things done, adding that the money may not have been released to them.
“I am not sure if the money has been released to the ministry, I think the agencies are still struggling to get the money from the ministry of finance. All agencies have submitted their needs, which is mainly on staff salary and overhead
“The agencies are liaising with finance for the money, but I was made to understand that there were small challenges between the finance and aviation Ministry”, he said.