According to Nigeria’s aviation minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, any international airline seen selling tickets in dollars will face sanctions from the federal government.
Sirika made the warning while answering questions from State House media at the end of the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The minister said that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had been given orders to protect Nigerians from the alleged misdeeds of airlines.
According to NAN, he said that if somebody was caught breaking the law, it wouldn’t matter how high up they were.
He claims that the government’s own research shows that some airlines are breaking the law by refusing to accept naira as payment and instead demanding payment in dollars for plane tickets.
He said: ”I want to utilize this occasion to say that reports are reaching us that some of the airlines are refusing to sell tickets in naira. That’s against the rules around here, so they won’t be tolerated.
If the powerful among them are found to be engaging in such behavior, they will face consequences.
”NCAA had been asked to swing into action and once we find any airline breaking this, we would absolutely deal with them. They also prevented the travel agencies from entering.
They only sold the most costly tickets, and so on.
“We have a highly active Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority; our regulators are not sleeping. We need to protect our people, so once they determine which airline is responsible, action will be taken against that airline.
Furthermore, the minister revealed that foreign airlines made over $1.1 billion from Nigeria in 2016, when the Buhari administration spent the $600 million it inherited from the previous government.
Sirika remembered that in 2016, airlines sent home more than $600 million, and that so far this year, $265 million out of around $484 million owed has been sent home.
He claims that the government is making an effort to appease the airlines by preventing them from amassing a surplus of cash once again, on the grounds that both Nigeria and the airlines rely on the Nigerian market.
The minister cautioned against making demands on social media and that they instead use diplomatic channels.
Sirika also dismissed as reckless media report that the Federal Government has so far expanded N14.6 billion on Nigeria Air project.
He claims that the government has only spent N651 million (N352 million and N299 million) on “transactional advisory services” that have been approved by the FEC but have not yet been distributed because the consultants have not yet completed their work.
A detailed business case for Nigeria Air will be presented to council very soon, he said.
Public-private partnerships (P3s) like this one are governed by the rules set forth by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
We have adhered to that policy with great care. Also, I’d want to take this occasion to mention that my family and I have been reading news articles, including a sensational piece published by the Guardian, which enjoys my utmost regard.
It’s absurd that the Federal Government of Nigeria spent N14 billion on the national carrier and did nothing with the money. (NAN)