Reps promises safe Air travel space for Nigerians, Vows to probe failed air project

By Rasheeda Yahaya

The House of Representatives unveiled plans to investigate the controversy surrounding the failed Nigeria Air project initiated by the past administration.

Chairman of, the House Committee on Aviation Technology, Hon Abiodun Akinlade gave the assurance during an inaugural meeting of the standing committee, on Thursday 7th December at the National Assembly.

Akinlade assured Nigerians that the report of the investigation to be carried out by relevant standing committees will be made public.

He said: “As we all know, this committee is newly created, carved out of the existing committee on Aviation, it is a high-tech-driven committee with so many expectations from us, we dare not fail the House, Nigerians and the stakeholders.

“We will engage and synergize with the stakeholders to give Nigerians the democratic dividend of a highly innovative and productive aviation industry.”

Watch the chairman’s speech below

According to him, the committee has rolled out a work plan that will guide the activities for the next four years.

Among the jurisdictions of the committee are: oversight of the Ministry Headquarter in conjunction with the committee on Aviation; Air Safety Services at Airports (NSIB), Schools of Aviation, Aviation Institutions, Metrological Services (NIMET) as well as annual budget estimates.

“The committee is highly concerned and worried at the recent various air crashes in Nigeria.

“We will with the support of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), the regulatory authorities organise a high-tech stakeholders town hall meeting to look into the causes of the air crashes and other safety abnormalities at our airports. Our air must be safe for all.

“The committee of aviation and aerospace technology in conjunction with the House Committee on Aviation and Aerospace will look into the controversy surrounding the launched Nigeria Air project and inform Nigerians accordingly.

“This is the budget period, as a committee will approach the process with all sense of responsibility. We shall cross all the Ts and dot all the ‘’s.

“We seek the cooperation of the minister of Aviation and Aerospace and other MDAs and Agencies under our supervision – we shall not hesitate to sanction anyone that fails to attend the budget defence to give account on their stewardship as we commence the budget process and other assignments of this committee in this 10th Assembly, I seek for the full support and cooperation of my esteemed Honorable colleagues, members of the committee, the clerk and the secretariat. There lies strength in unity.”

While noting that the committee’s clerk and secretariat will be empowered to function optimally, Akinlade assured that the committee will leave no stone unturned in the discharge of our assignment and responsibility.

Recall that the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo had in September 2023 announced the suspension of the controversial Nigeria Air project during his visit to Lagos airports, revealing that the Nigeria Air project was currently entangled in a legal dispute between Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Keyamo underscored the need for a comprehensive review of the terms and conditions of the controversial Nigeria Air project which was launched on the 26th May, 2023, to safeguard the interests of Nigerians.

It will be recalled that the former Minister (Sirika) had during an investigative hearing held at the instance of the House Committee on Aviation (9th Assembly), chaired by Hon Nnolim Nnaji disclosed that the Ethiopian Airline would hold 49 per cent shares while the Nigerian Government and the Nigerian public would retain 5 per cent and 46 per cent equities respectively.

Sirika also informed the committee that the 49 per cent shares would be held by a consortium led by Ethiopian Airlines.

Akinlade also hinted at the committee’s plan to collaborate with all the regulatory agencies, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and other stakeholders in the bid to end the spate of air crashes in the country.

While adopting the motion to declare the committee open, members appreciated the chairman and his speech especially on the Air Nigeria which was launched.

Another take-home point is the promise by the chairman to make the Nigerian airspace safe for all Nigerians to use.