New national carrier must fail for Nigeria’s sake – Oby Ezekwesili

Nigeria Air
Name and logo of the proposed new national carrier by the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

A former minister of education in Nigeria, Oby Ezekwesili, has predicted doom for the country’s new national carrier, the Nigeria Air.

“It shall fail,” Mrs Ezekwesili ‏said on Twitter, March 28, three months before the new airline was unveiled on Wednesday at the Farnborough air show in England.

“For the sake of the country, it must fail,” she tweeted through her handle @obyezeks.

Mrs Ezekwesili said establishing the new national carrier was “clearly a wrong priority” and “a waste”.

Her remarks attracted criticisms from other Twitter users who said she wasn’t wishing Nigeria well.

“Ma, if you had maintained that it’s ‘clearly a wrong priority and a waste’. That’s understandable,” one Twitter user (@Hafsathaadi) said to Mrs Ezekwesili. “But adding that it shall and must fail is totally offensive. I think you should apologize to all those who want to see Nigeria work. Be humble enough to do that!”

But Mrs Ezekwesili, seemingly unmoved by the criticisms, reiterated her stance against the new national carrier.

“Before we once again sink scarce public resources into a wrong-headed prestige project like an airline, I am glad to stand alone on this,” she tweeted on Thursday.

Read her other tweets on the topic here.

Mrs Ezekwesili had said in a previous tweet that Nigeria lost the benefit of its market-size comparative advantage to be West Africa’s travel hub because of policy, regulatory, and standard failures of its aviation sector.

“Failure of public sector begets failure of private sector!” she had said on the social media site.

The proposed airline is expected to gulp $8.8 million preliminary cost and $300 million as take-off cost, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the Nigerian government is not fully funding the airline.

Mr Sirika said the government opted for a Public-Private partnership to deliver a national carrier that would stand the test of time and be world class in operation and management.

He said Nigeria will receive the first set of five airplanes for the airliner on December 19 and own 30 aircraft in five years.

The airline will make profit in three years after operations, the minister said.

Nigeria’s former national carrier, Nigeria Airways, was closed down after 46 years of operation.

It was liquidated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in September 2004 after it slipped into heavy indebtedness and inefficiency.


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