Tinubu Has Final Say On Nigeria Air – Keyamo

Festus Keyamo, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, says President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will decide the next step for the Nigeria Air Project.

He disclosed this while speaking to State House Correspondents after Monday’s Federal Executive Council meeting at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

“I cannot preempt my President. I cannot…now we have looked at all the issues and it’s before Mr. President,” Keyamo said.

According to him, it would be “irresponsible“ of the Federal Government to follow through on a deal that gives monopoly of Nigeria’s aviation industry to a foreign entity.

Founded in 2018, Nigeria Air’s ownership stakes is divided among Ethiopian Airlines (49 per cent) Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (46 per cent), and the Federal Government (5 per cent)

However, Keyamo revealed that some of the details of the agreement signed with the major stakeholder in the deal, Ethiopian Airlines, required another critical look, in the interest of the nation, citing waivers and the staffing arrangements.

“In the agreement, you are giving tax waivers to Ethiopian Airline coming into Nigeria. They asked for tax waivers for five years and you granted them, to come and compete with your local airline which are paying those heavy taxes.

“How? Do you want to create a monopoly? That’s why when they tell you that we want to crash price by…it’s a lie. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul.

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“The only thing that brings down prices in the commercial world is fair competition,” he detailed.

Keyamo also lamented that the contract sought to cede the appointment of employees at all levels to the Ethiopian investors, a situation he lamented.

“In the agreement, they also made a proposal that they will appoint everybody; top management, everybody Ethiopian, in Nigeria, and we agreed. We agreed!” he lamented.

However, Keyamo said all details are before the President for consideration.

“I have heard all kinds of things going on, all kinds of brickbats in the social media, but I cannot preempt my President.

“All the documents, all the reports, everything, we have forwarded to Mr. President, the issues we’ve met on the ground.

“I feel the pulse of Nigerians. Even the National Assembly raised concerns over that, and so many stakeholders. It would have been irresponsible to close my eyes totally to those concerns. So because of that, we suspended it, to say that let’s just look at all the issues and recommend,” he explained.

Keyamo explained that, had the Nigeria Air agreement been implemented, it would have created a monopoly for Ethiopian Air, at the expense of other local airliners.