The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has kicked against the agreement the immediate past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari signed with Ethiopian Airline on the proposed national carrier, Nigeria Air.
The minister, who said the agreements of the deal were unfair to Nigerian airlines, noted that 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.
This was made known by Keyamo, while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday, November 27, 2023, where he further disclosed that reports had been submitted on the issue and President Bola Tinubu will determine the next step for the project.
Keyamo in his statement said,
- “I cannot preempt my President. I cannot…now we have looked at all the issues and it’s before Mr. President.
- “But just to say that it would have been irresponsible of me as minister to take over office and close my eyes totally to those concerns.
- “So because of that, we suspended it to say, let’s just look at all the issues and recommend. Now we have looked at all the issues and it’s before Mr President. But let me just give you one or two snippets because Nigerians who are quick to judge.
- “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.
- “The only thing that brings down prices in the commercial world is fair competition.”
He also lamented that the contract sought to cede the appointment of employees at all levels to the Ethiopian investors, a situation he lamented.
- He noted, “In the agreement, they also made a proposal that they will appoint everybody; top management, everybody Ethiopian, in Nigeria, and we agreed. We agreed!’’
All reports before the president for consideration
However, Keyamo said all details are before the President for consideration.
- The minister added, “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 responsible 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.’’