According to a source in the aviation industry, the minister misled President Buhari by launching the airline without informing him that the necessary certification had not been obtained.
It was also discovered that the former minister had prevented Nigerian Eagle from obtaining the required certification to operate, citing similarities in their color and name to the unsuccessful Nigeria Air project.
The source revealed that Sirika attempted to use Nigerian Eagle’s Airline Operators Certificate (AOC) but was unsuccessful.
The source further stated that Sirika prioritized self-interest over national interest, which goes against proper governance.
These revelations have sparked nationwide attention, leading stakeholders to call for an investigation into Sirika and the agencies under his authority.
Critics argue that Sirika’s administration was characterized by lopsided appointments, tribalism, disregard for the rule of law, and the usurpation of powers belonging to aviation agency boards.
For instance, despite being aware of the ongoing litigation surrounding Nigeria Air, Sirika boldly claimed that no court could stop the airline from operating. Furthermore, he engaged Ethiopian Airlines to provide an aircraft painted in Nigeria Air colors, unveiled in the country without the necessary certification from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
This move caused a significant uproar, prompting the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation to summon the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, along with the airline’s Managing Director, Capt. Dapo Olumide and shareholders for an emergency meeting to discuss the project.
After the meeting, the legislative body labeled the project fraudulent and pledged to investigate its details thoroughly.
Meanwhile, stakeholders continue to express their disappointment with the project’s lack of transparency.
Olumide Ohunayo, an aviation analyst, emphasized the need to scrutinize all the processes and documents presented by Sirika, suggesting that the agencies under the ministry should undergo an audit. Ohunayo also described Nigeria Air as a fraudulent endeavor that requires investigation. He highlighted the logo’s unveiling in 2018 and criticized the static display presented by Sirika in May 2023.
Regarding other airlines in Nigeria, Ohunayo pointed out that several airlines were established during Sirika’s tenure, such as Ibom Air, United Nigeria Airline, Green Africa, Value Jet, and Rano Air. He mentioned that Nigeria Eagle was poised to launch after obtaining an AOC but was prevented from doing so due to similarities in color and name to Nigeria Air. Ohunayo also questioned why the government didn’t utilize existing carriers like Arik and Aero Contractors under the control of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Sindy Foster, the Principal Partner at Avaero Capital, expressed disappointment with the entire plan of the federal government, describing it as poorly executed.