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Controversy Trails N8.5bn Earmarked For Suspended National Carrier



An aviation expert, Dr. Gabriel Olowo, has criticised , the  federal government for earmarking N8.5billion for the suspended national carrier project, Nigeria Air in the 2019 budget proposal to the national assembly. Olowo, who is currently the president of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), also condemned the government for setting aside the sum of N500million for transaction advisers in the budget. According to Olowo, such an amount of money, if allocated to technical professionals in the country, would give the government appropriate advice on how to go about the birth of a befitting national carrier for the nation. Olowo made the observation  yesterday in Lagos at the launch of a book ‘The Learned Commander,’ authored by Capt. Dele Ore, an erstwhile director of operations of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways. The aviation expert insisted that the government was not following the right path in establishing a new national carrier for the country and urged it to consultant locally from professionals in the sector on how to re-establish a new national airline for Nigeria. He said, “I read it somewhere that the federal government proposed another N8.5billion for the establishment of a new national carrier for Nigeria in the 2019 budget proposal to the National Assembly. Out of this money, N500million was set aside for transaction advisers. “If you give the N500million to people like Dele Ore and co, they will advice you better on how to have a befitting national carrier. However, ART as a body will continue to fight for the interest of the former staff of Nigeria Airways. We will continue to drum it to the ears of the government that what is due to them is paid.” Also speaking in an interview with journalists, Capt. Ore, expressed sadness over the liquidation of the airline almost 16 years later, saying that the staff were poorly treated by the government. He insisted that the government was wrongly advised on the liquidation of the airline, adding that another national carrier may not berth until all the former staff were properly remunerated by the government. He explained that late Umaru Yar’Adua paid five years severance packages of the retired staff, while President Goodluck Jonathan, who took over from him refused to pay the staff of the liquidated carrier. He, however, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari, for paying a part of the severance package, but lamented that he and a few others who retired before the airline was liquidated were still not properly paid their dues.