Posted by Sade Williams
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), has described the comments made by the outgoing Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, on Nigeria Air as an invitation to anarchy and a court contempt.
Sirika had said that the aircraft for the operations of Nigeria Air would arrive the country on Friday despising a court order restraining him from having anything to do with the project.
In a statement signed by Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, spokesperson for the association, the AON said Sirika’s statements and actions are in flagrant disobedience of the orders of the Federal High Court of Nigeria which halted the said moves by the minister to float the said airline until the determination of the substantive suit brought by AON against it.
“For the avoidance of doubt, AON welcomes the establishment of more airlines in Nigeria for we believe that the skies are big enough to accommodate all. However, AON is against any contraption that is shadowy and not in the best overall interest of the country.
“We need the outgoing Minister to come forward, defend and counter the very damning submissions in our suit.”, it said.
It noted that the Minister is s deliberately hoodwinking the nation into accepting a flawed process.
“Again, it is very disturbing that a Minister is desperately hoodwinking the entire nation into accepting a massively flawed process just 72hours to the end of his 7-year tenure in office as Minister of Aviation, even as the courts have halted him.
The association is of the opinion that stakeholders are worried that his actions may create problems for the incoming government of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
“The government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should not be blackmailed into accepting a contraption that would definitely and ultimately hurt the Nigerian economy and destroy millions of existing jobs in favour of one or two individuals and a foreign country by this hurried last minute desperation.
“The Aviation Minister is aware of the different court orders against him and Nigeria Air. He should be aware that he is courting a charge of contempt of court as he is not above the law and can not freely disregard the courts.
“AON is also aware, like the Minister and promoters of Nigeria Air, that the process of acquiring Airline Operators Certificate( AOC) for Nigeria Air is only at the Stage one, contrary to his televised statement that the Nigerian Air AOC process was at the concluding Stage five.The world is watching the regulator, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on this Nigeria Air and its AOC process.
Meanwhile, the AON said the NG Eagles’ flawed AOC issuance is equally a matter for another day.
“The government should understand that the actions and pronouncements of this Minister is not only impugning on the independence and integrity of the NCAA, but also capable of bringing the entire industry into disrepute thereby adversely affecting the ratings of Nigeria’s airlines on the global stage.
“The minister cannot order these certification processes by fiat. Therefore, an aircraft flying into Nigeria and bearing Nigerian colours does not change anything. Furthermore, the fact that the Minister has just a few more days left of his time in office, makes it necessary that promoters of the airline, if they exist, other than Sirika, should be talking to Nigerians, telling them what they ought to know and answering relevant questions about their stakes in Nigeria Air.
“Hadi Sirika knows that until the order is vacated, the Ministry of Aviation cannot proceed with any action towards the airline.”, it added.