National carrier: Why Lufthansa was substituted, says Sirika

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Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika has given reason why Lufthansa Consortium’s contract that was expected to mid-wife the birth of a national carrier was terminated, saying the decision was taken in the best interest of the nation.
The Minister who spoke in Lagos alleged that the firm changed the term of the contract it had with government by demanding that aside asking for 75 per cent of N341 million upfront payment which he said was not in line Nigeria’s procurement law. He also alleged that the firm also wanted the money to be converted to Euros which was also not acceptable to them.
 His words, “What transpired at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which I explained very clearly is that we substituted Lufthansa Consulting as part of the consortium to provide transaction advisory services for the establishment of a national carrier”.
“The reason is very simple and clear. We thought that Lufthansa Consortium is an arm of Lufthansa Airline Group and this may compromise the process. They might be interested party latter in the day of this procurement and this may compromise the system. We want it to be transparent, as fair and equitable as it should be”.
“They wanted about 75 per cent to be paid of the sum ab nitio and this is not in line with procurement laws. The contract was in Naira N341m but they wanted to change it to Euros and this was not acceptable to us. This was neither in our request for proposal. What we did was there were many in the consortium, we substituted them with another company that is even fair, that is no appendage to any other company that might be interested. So, they are more of a neutral company to take over the place of Lufthansa “, he added.
Sirika stated that the government was very close to the establishment of a national carrier, noting that it would certainly be within the first term of this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I think in the next couple of months; one month, two months maximum,  we should be able our business case. I can say that we are very close to the establishment of a national carrier”.
Anxiety mixed with palpable joy could best describe plan by the Federal Government to put in motion process that would help to establish a national carrier for the country. Apparently worried by loss of huge revenue from the aviation industry, the government had concluded plans to regain some grounds by floating a national carrier before the end of 2018.
The Minister’s assurance may have rekindled hope that Nigeria could indeed have a new national carrier before the end of the years as the buzz around what people described as a wonderful idea if the government pulls it through waned as many feared that this may end up as another failed project considering the fact that the governments before now had tried unsuccessfully to give the country a national airline, which has divided opinion among those who believe in the idea and others who believe is an unprofitable venture.
Sirika attributed the hugely successful 2017 in aviation to doing what is right and by diligently following standard recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
 He explained that Nigeria received a very good pass mark well above average on aviation security and on safety which he said was also well above average pass mark.
“That of safety was well above global average. We were scoring 66 and 96 per cent respectively and I believe all of those safety critical matters and that of security concerns were addressed progressively”.

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