The Federal Government has earmarked the sum of N29.87bn as working capital for the proposed national carrier – Nigeria Air, and for 46 new projects in the aviation sector.
An analysis of the 2023 budget presented to the National Assembly by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), showed the amount allocated for the different new projects and the new airline.
The national carrier, which was described as an “ongoing” project in the budget, got an allocation of N700m as working capital for its establishment.
Since its unveiling four years ago, various experts in the aviation sector have continued to raise concerns about its establishment.
They said the government should have identified with domestic airlines that had the wherewithal to run as flag carriers and assist them in accessing cheap funds and acquiring necessary equipment to achieve this.
A member of the Aviation Roundtable, a body of industry experts, Olamide Ohunayo, expressed fears about the partnership between Nigeria Air and Ethiopian Airline, as the government had given multiple false start dates for the commencement of operations of the national carrier.
Findings showed that in the 2023 budget, the sum of N19.7bn was allocated to the Federal Ministry of Aviation to fund 15 new projects.
Some of the items that were budgeted for/the amount allocated to them, include compliance and project assessment/upgrading in the aviation sector, N22.5m; infrastructure upgrade/EDMS solutions in the ministry, N30m; and public service reforms in relation to the aviation sector and others, N200m.
The budgets for multilateral/bilateral tied loans – four airport terminals expansion incremental project was N10.41bn; multilateral/bilateral tied loans – four airport terminals expansion ancillary project, N8.1bn.
The Nigerian Meteorological Services Agency was allocated the sum of N960m to fund five new projects; petro-fitting of National Weather Forecasting and Climate Research Centre (remodeling) phase ii & iii, got N280m, among others.
Also speaking on the allocations in the budget for the aviation sector, Ohunayo faulted the approval of the new projects. He said the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, was supposed to have constituted a board of directors to manage the agencies.
He urged the National Assembly committees on aviation to take a critical look at the projects and the figures and query them.
Ohunayo said the last time a board was constituted for the agencies was about eight years ago. He alleged that Sirika had been operating as minister and as the board of directors for the agencies.
Article first published on the Punch Website