“The position of government in business is to provide the enabling environment, and it is not to become the sole source of finance or funding and, in addition, there is much more than funding in trying to get our national carrier. So, the Federal Government thinks this thing should be stepped down now until we get a better funding structure.”- Lai Mohammed
The Nigerian Federal Government has further shed light on why it suspended the controversial national carrier, Nigeria Air, at its last Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday.
Also, the government said it deserved commendation not vilification from the public on its conduct of Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Osun State.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, told journalists at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, on Wednesday, during the official opening of the multi-million dollar state-of-the-art building of LSG Sky, in partnership with Things Remembered, that lack of interested investors led to the suspension of the national carrier project.
Mohammed explained that some of the investors the government had expected to partner with on the project were no longer forthcoming, adding that the government never wanted to be the sole sponsor of the project.
He explained that the suspension of the project was in the nation’s interest, and stressed that the government would not venture into any business that would fail in the long run.
He, however, said the project was not terminated and assured that the government would return to it in the future.
He said: “If the understanding of government at the beginning was that the project might be self-financing or the project would be financed by investors, and you think that such a project can no longer be sponsored by investors, either because they are not forthcoming or such launching can no longer be viable, the government is at the discretion to take decision.
“The position of government in business is to provide the enabling environment, and it is not to become the sole source of finance or funding and, in addition, there is much more than funding in trying to get our national carrier. So, the Federal Government thinks this thing should be stepped down now until we get a better funding structure.”
Mohammed also emphasised that Senator Hadi Sirika, the Minister of State for Aviation, carried along the government on the entire project, but insisted that the assurances did not materialise.
Besides, he explained that the suspension of the national carrier project would not lead to the suspension of other projects like maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities, leasing company and airport concession in the sector.
“I don’t think the government should be condemned or criticised if it decides to step down a particular project. I think it is in the interest of the country that we can’t embark on a project which had not been well thought out. Four years is a short time for some things; it doesn’t mean that we have abandoned it,” he said.
The Genius Media