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Nigeria Air project a fraud – Keyamo

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has described the Nigeria Air project of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari as a fraud.…

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has described the Nigeria Air project of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari as a fraud.

Keyamo said this during the Ministerial Sectorial update which held in Abuja, on Monday.

The immediate past Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, is being probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged money laundering in connection with the botched Nigeria Air project.

Keyamo, who was the Minister of State for Labour and Employment during the administration of Buhari, emphasised that the Nigeria Air project remained suspended.

He said: “It was never Air Nigeria, it was Ethiopia trying to flag our flag. It was not Air Nigeria. That is the truth. It was not Nigeria. It only printed Air Nigeria.

“It was an Ethiopian airline trying to fly our flag. If it is so, why not allow our local people to fly our flag. Why bring a foreigner to fly our flag? So, nobody should deceive you that it was Air Nigeria.

“Air Nigeria must be indigenous, must be wholly Nigeria or must be for the full benefit of Nigerians, not that 60 per cent of the profit is given to another country. How does that benefit us? It remains suspended. It remains so.”

He disclosed that it had been agreed that cargo flights between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, which had been suspended for a long time, would be resumed.

He stated, “Guess what? Air cargo trade accounts for 35 per cent of the world trade deficit and air cargo trade according to the International Air Transport Association, IATA attracts about $6 trillion annually and we’re missing you know, within that sector we were missing in many routes around the world and we have achieved that.”

The minister also disclosed that all trapped funds of foreign airlines had been cleared.

“We all know this issue was the issue of trapped funds of the international airlines. Their funds were trapped here because of lack of liquidity on the part of Nigeria because of so many subsidies we pay with our foreign earnings.

“Also, foreign airlines were threatening to stop operating in Nigeria. Now, I must give credit to all those in the financial sector for this. We had to work closely with the CBN, with the Minister of Finance, with all of the ministers in the financial sector and by our persistence, we’re happy to announce that we’ve cleared all the trapped funds,” he said.

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