FG faults foreign airlines over blocked funds, others

The Federal Government has dismissed threats by foreign airlines to suspend operations in Nigeria over their inability to repatriate their blocked forex from the country.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said that Nigeria would fare better if foreign airlines boycott the country, as the government has developed the capacity to face the challenges. Sirika said this in Abuja on Monday at the continued negotiations following the intervention of the House of Representatives in the conflict between the Nigerian Government and some operators under the International Air Transport Association.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had called the roundtable over threats by Emirates Airline and British Airways to suspend their operations in Nigeria.

“Nigeria under President Buhari has shown the capacity and audacity to stand up in difficult moments to do the right thing to help the country,” the minister stated.

Sirika recalled that when the regime led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), came into power in 2015, there were about $480m blocked in Nigeria. “That year, we were in recession and revenues had dwindled,” he said.

 According to the minister, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, then said that the country would either ‘earn or borrow it (forex)’. He noted that at that moment, the regime had not started borrowing. He said that Buhari asked him, Emefiele and the then Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Kemi Adeosun, to resolve the problem which was done.

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Article first published on the Punch Website

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