21 July 2018
Nigeria’s aviation minister Hadi Sirika launched new national carrier Nigeria Air’s logo and name at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK earlier this week to much fanfare.
He claimed that the government was putting up $300m for a 5% stake in the company, with private investors, yet to be identified, providing the rest of the money.
It has since been claimed on social media that $600,000 was paid to a Bahrain-based company to design the logo. Now, Mustafa Chike-Obi, the inaugural CEO of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), has raised further disturbing questions. The former Wall Street investment banker tweeted this morning:
Am baffled. Air France/KLM paid 286 million dollars for 31% of Virgin Atlantic last year, but we are putting up 300 million dollars for 5% of a start-up airline?? Would really appreciate a rational explanation.
— Mustafa Chike-Obi (@ChikeMustafa) July 21, 2018
It’s very unlikely that there is any rational explanation for this, other than fraud. We have seen an airline launch with no planes, no staff, no offices, no investors, nothing but hot air. It looks like a classic fly-by-night operation with the only things going airborne being a few million dollars flying into private bank accounts.
Fraud and mismanagement grounded Nigeria Airways about 15 years ago after being in business for 45 years. Sirika has claimed that the government won’t be involved in running the new carrier. But it appears that he and his crew are already involved in ruining the airline even before the first plane takes off.
Incidentally, Sirika is the nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari – the minister’s mother is Buhari’s elder sister. Government business is family business in Nigeria.