In August 2021, the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, set tongues wagging across the nation, especially on social media, when he promised to initiate aircraft manufacturing in Nigeria before the end of 2023.
During an official visit to the Magnus Aircraft Industry in Pogany, Hungary, Sirika declared that Nigeria was poised to manufacture planes in partnership with the Hungarian company. The former Aviation boss outlined a plan to begin with assembling airplanes and eventually move towards full-scale manufacturing within the country.
Sirika’s spokesperson, James Odaudu, quoted the Minister saying, “If we venture with them, we may start with an assembling plant and later manufacturing.” He also highlighted the purported advantages of the Magnus plane, claiming it used regular car petrol and outperformed any training aircraft of its kind.
The former Minister expressed satisfaction with the anticipated readiness to commence production in Nigeria.
However, with less than two months remaining until the self-imposed deadline, there has been no discernible progress towards the establishment of any manufacturing or assembling plant for airplanes in Nigeria. The stark absence of any such initiative has unveiled the Minister’s promises as baseless and misleading.
The failure of the fulfillment of the minister’s pledge further exacerbates skepticism among the public, raising questions about the credibility of such ambitious proclamations by government officials. It also serves as a prime example of deceptive practices employed by authorities to generate false hopes and bolster their image without substantial groundwork or follow-through.
As the end of 2023 looms and the promised manufacturing of airplanes remains a distant dream, it becomes increasingly apparent that the assurances made by the former Minister during his visit to Hungary were, in fact, unfounded and far from realization.
Perhaps this may serve as a reminder to Nigerians as they await further explanations and accountability regarding these unmet commitments.
Meanwhile, in May this year, before his exodus from office following the expiration of the previous administration, Sirika had, in what the House of Representatives described as a ‘huge fraud,” unveiled Nigeria Air, promising that 35 aircraft are expected in the next five years.
Speaking at the event, Hadi Sirika said the partnership with the Ethiopian Airlines (ET) consortium, the preferred bidder for Nigeria Air, will connect the market of both countries.
“This is one infrastructure that has been missing in general aviation in dynamics of the country; the airline that is equal to the size of dynamics of the market in Nigeria for its geography and fortune. Indeed, we need the infrastructure we have today in the name of Nigeria Air Limited,” he said.
“This Nigeria Air Limited is obviously an entity known to Nigerian laws and the partnership between entrepreneurs in Nigeria and entrepreneurs in the Ethiopia Airline consortium. The consortium is a company belonging to many partners, and it is a very long journey that we started in 2016 and ended today.
“There were challenges, but we did not allow them to make us lose focus, and today we are here. We pray that it will be good for our country, its people, its future, and humanity.”
Speaking on when the flight operations will commence, Sirika said that in the process of establishing an airline, “there are conditions set by the regulator, which is the NCAA.”
“So, this airplane will be here, and we will commence the demonstration flight to show that we can do it. It is normally around 0-40 hours, but it can be less. It can be five or even two hours, and this is to ensure that we are able and have the capacity to do it,” he said.
“So, I know the NCAA will give clean bills to start to fly. So, this is part of the process, and it is the beginning of the establishment of the airline.”
In his words, “It is envisaged that it will hit the 35 aircraft mark, but you do not come in one day to dump the airplanes, and you don’t come in one day and start going to London. It is a gradual process, and the aircraft will be coming one after another until the five years that we reach the 35 aircraft mark,” he said.
“This is a private sector-led airline with only five percent, and there is no stopping right by the government. So, Nigerians are welcome, and I am sure the five percent will go to the public for sale at some point. He added that the airline would begin with local flights, saying, “It is a Boeing 737 capacity aircraft”.
Reacting to the development, the Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, declared the launch of Nigeria Air a fraud after the major stakeholders in the deal between the Federal Government and Ethiopian Airlines denied knowledge of the launch.
With the minister out of office, it is unclear if there are plans by the current minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, to actualize the plans of Hadi Sirika, especially since the same party is still in power.