December takeoff date of national carrier sacrosanct–Sirika

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*Minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika flanked by the director general of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Chidi Izuwah and the permanent secretary, transportation, Mr. Sabiu Zakari during the presentation of the Certificate of Compliance for the National Carrier to the minister.

The minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has assured that the December 2018 takeoff date of the proposed national carrier remains unchanged.

Sirika who gave the assurance while receiving the Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance from the director general of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Chidi Izuwah, assured that the national carrier to be delivered would be world class in operation and management.

He said the presentation of the certificate was an official approval of the process through which the project had gone so far.

“There is no doubt that the issue of national carrier for Nigeria is very close to the hearts of both the government and the people, which is the reason it has taken the option of a public private partnership with the belief that it was the only way to deliver a national carrier that would stand the test of time,” he said.

He commended the efforts of the ICRC director general and his team in ensuring that the national carrier project has remained on track through the observation of all legal aid regulatory frameworks.

The minister also expressed satisfaction with the way the transaction advisers carried out their assignments with utmost diligence and timeliness.

Thereafter, he debunked the claim that the national carrier would sound the death knell for other airlines operating in the country.

“Nigeria, with a population of over 180 million people with so many unserviced routes offers more than enough space for all serious airlines to operate profitably,” he asserted.

In his remarks, Izuwah said the presentation of the certificate was an official green light to proceed with the procurement process.

He said the ICRC, in granting the certificate reviewed the project structuring report, also known as the outline business case, in line with the ICRC Act of 2005.

He also said the certificate was granted on the condition that the federal government “has committed to leveraging on private sector capital and expertise towards the establishment of the national carrier through the provision of a viability gap funding for the project.”

Furthermore, he said the other condition for granting the certificate of compliance was an official commitment to zero contribution to airline management decisions and zero government control.

“Any attempt to impose government control would invalidate the certificate and the entire process,” he warned.

The ICRC director general commended the minister for his commitment to changing the face of aviation in Nigeria through infrastructural renaissance stressing that “the PPP remains the only viable option for Nigeria in view of dwindling national resources.”

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