Former minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika says Nnaji Nnolim, former chairperson of the house of representatives committee on aviation, privately requested a five percent stake in Nigeria Air.
The former minister spoke when he appeared on Arise TV on Sunday.
CEOAFRICA source has contacted Nnaji for his response. “I’ll give my response soon. I am still busy with my this thing,” the lawmaker said when asked for comment.
Sirika had unveiled Nigeria Air — the national carrier — about three days before the end of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Speaking on the launch, Nnaji had faulted the process leading to the unveiling of the airline, describing it as a “fraud”.
“A careful review of the process indicates the exercise to be highly opaque, shrouded in secrecy, shoddy and capable of ridiculing and tarnishing the image of Nigeria before the international community,” Nnaji had said.
However, Sirika responded that the committee chairman “and his people” had sought a minority interest in the national carrier.
“He (Nnaji) asked to give him five percent of Nigeria Air to carry him along with his people, and I said to him at that time that honourable, this is a bidding process that has taken place, and some people won. So, I think you should go to those people and ask for the five percent,” Sirika said.
“I want to assure you that at that point, even the five percent held by the federal government will go to market. So he should get his money ready and buy for him and his people, according to him.”
When asked to clarify what “his people” meant, the former minister said Nnaji could be referring to anybody — not necessarily other members of the lower chamber.
“He said he wants him and his people. His people could be his family, members and it could be leadership. I did not know what this meant, but he said he and his people needed five percent. I am saying that he should relax and approach the owners. That’s exactly what I told him in camera,” he said.
The former minister also berated Nnaji and the aviation committee for conducting a “predetermined hearing”.
“I was a member of the house of reps 20 years ago; 10 years ago, I was a senator. I know how the workings are. He called for a public hearing. And right after the public hearing, he just turned the paper and read the riot act,” he said.
“The practice in the national assembly is that after hearing people and the complaints, you sit down as a committee. The clerks will do their job, you will then sit down to discuss the issues, raise them, approach the whole house of reps and take position of the house plus leadership and come back and make your findings known; but you do not immediately read the riot act out. It means it is predetermined.”