COVID-19 Aviation Palliatives: Nigerian Airlines Says They still Unable To Access Funds suspect being targets
More and more questions are arising concerning the disbursement from the N5bn aviation palliative shared from the N27bn disbursed to the industry by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). More airlines are complaining that they are yet to receive their share and are wondering why the secrecy of the fund disbursement and why the national carrier has become a priority after being suspended by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika claims the remaining N22bn would be expended on the aviation roadmap and the national carrier. Yet the question remains why the national carrier project was suspended in September 2018 especially when there are projects that need immediate attention for the industry to grow.
Recall on September 19, 2018, Nigeria’s government through the Federal Executive Council (FEC) suspended the Nigeria Air project months after the unveiling of the national carrier’s project logo at the Farnborough Air Show in London, till date there is no new article where the FEC reinstated the project.
Stakeholders also believe that if the project had taken off as the minister had assured that it would in December 2018 after the airline’s unveiling on July 18, 2018, probably it would have made more sense to add them to the list of beneficiaries but giving money to a nonexistent entity while existing ones are starved of funds is highly illogical.
Questions are being asked on the status of the national carrier, ‘ Nigeria Air’ which was announced as the recipient of the funds with no credentials,( Air Operators Certificate, Air Transport License )to back its existence save for what is being told the country.
Speaking to reporters on this situation, Group Capt. John Ojikutu Rtd said “If the airlines are getting palliatives to revamp their operations and pay salaries, we should expect same for the government agencies, too for their equipment and staff; how much for these? We need to know for the six aviation agencies; how much for the new ‘national carrier’? We need to know. So, ask the NASS Senate and House of Representatives that approved the money and the ministry that is disbursing it.
For other Airlines on the disbursement, some few unfortunate airlines have not accessed the palliatives despite submitting documentation, no one has explained to them why they are in the current predicament or if some malignant element is behind their ordeal as the silence from the Ministry of aviation continues to speak volumes.
Already airlines like Aero Contractors, West Link, TAL Helicopters, and a few others are yet to receive their own share of the initial N5bn shared by those in authority while Ibom Air was allegedly denied access to the fund under the guise it was state-owned and nothing is yet to be said on the balance of N22bn for the industry.
Tropical Arctic Logistics (TAL) Helicopter Company, Engr. Femi Adeniji, who spoke on the airline’s efforts to get from the palliative, questioned the modus operandi for sharing the palliatives and why some airlines would get while others don’t.
He said, “I have tried, I have called the Federal Ministry of Aviation; I have four helicopters that I am operating. They asked us to send account numbers, which we did. Even up to last Friday, I still called them to find out what is going on. Unfortunately, I was in the US when my company’s name was published as among those who will receive the palliative, but we have not gotten anything up until now.
“They said they were going to give it to us, salaries are still being owed, the staff is complaining. If they say they are going to give us, let them give us. They should not put it in the newspapers and nothing happens thereafter.
“I understand they got N25bn from the government and they are giving us N5bn. Even at that, why give some airlines and not give the others?”
Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia of West Link who had earlier spoken to reports on this issue also agreed that it would seem people were handpicked and given palliatives for whatever reasons.
“My office submitted the necessary documents. I am a member of AON. There is no leadership of AON as far as I am concerned because we are already in court. The minister and all the relevant people were served. They said we should submit our account and other details to the ministry of aviation for the collection of palliative. We wrote to the minister directly and attention to the committee, which was received.
He went on, “What I can say is that everything seems to be shrouded in secrecy. Nobody knows anything. I know the government has given us money and I heard some people have not received it. I know other colleagues who have not equally.
“It is obvious the ministry just handpicked those they wanted. They don’t want to give. It appears that we are less in number that didn’t receive. It is obvious a few of us were targeted. Whatever reason, I don’t know. Nobody has called me why I have not received and when I will receive it.”
Also speaking on the funds and their disbursement or lack of therein, a former scribe of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye who also spoke on the remaining N22bn however said, “I am not sure if the money has been released to the ministry, the agencies are still struggling to get the money from ministry of finance. All agencies have submitted their needs, which is mainly on staff salary and overhead
“The agencies are liaising with finance for the money, but I was made to understand that there were small challenges between the finance and aviation Ministry.
However, airlines who have not received are still waiting to get their share after they have been told to submit documentation. I believe this is just the beginning of these issues, the aviation sector has lost a lot in the past year and so the palliatives are duly needed.