In his struggles to free himself from the obvious self inflicted barrage of misdemeanours in the poorly packaging of the purported national carrier, Nigeria Air project which ended in a national embarrassment,the former minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has continued to incur more wrath from all angles.
Sirika during his interview on Arise Television on Sunday failed to convince majority of Nigerians that everything he did about the proposed national carrier was done in good faith.
Rather than clear himself from all the allegations and questions put to him, Sirika chose to descend low by going personal to attack the imaginary enemies he felt exposed his shenanigans in the bad deals.
In his getting back at his targets, he ended up further implicating himself through the incoherent responses he churned out and in the cause of doing this, attracted reactions and surprises from stakeholders who expected better responses from him.
Since that appearance on Arise TV station, more facts have continue to emerge which point to the fact thst in his bid to exonerate himself from the controversy, ended up being economical with the truths.
One of the airlines he indicted during the special interview, Air Peace airline has however come out to expose the lies told by the former minister while trying to drag the airline because its Chairman who happened to be the Vice President of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Barrister Allen Onyema with other domestic airlines dared to challenge his bad dealings in the supposed national carrier.
In the Arise TV interview, Sirika accused Air Peace of lacking in capacity and competency.
But in a swift reaction, the airline management has come out to counter his outburts through a statement issued by the Chief Operating Officer of the airline, Mrs Toyin Olajide.
The airline in the statement expressed dismay at the spurious lies the minister spewed out against it which the airline said was unbecoming of a former minister of aviation.
The airline in the statement declared:”Air Peace deems it absolutely necessary to debunk these false assertions.
“Firstly, Sirika, in his bid to denigrate Air Peace while praising Ethiopian Airline, stated that we leased ‘two’ Boeing 777 aircraft on a monthly lease fee of $250,000, parked the aircraft for several months and incurred losses of $19 million while all the aircraft engines and landing gears became due for replacement when we were ready to fly. He went on to ask, “who does that?”. He stated that Ethiopian Airlines would never do that.
“This is a blatant lie as we have three and not two Boeing 777 aircraft which were never leased or rented, but were purchased outrightly by the airline.
“Air peace never incurred such a loss, we never paid rentals contrary to his lies. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA) can attest to the purchase and ownership of the Aircraft by Air peace.
“Secondly, Sirika said the airline stopped flying to Dubai because ‘we lack capacity’. This is another stark lie.
“Air Peace never stopped the Dubai operations because of lack of capacity. Air Peace commenced operations into the UAE in July, 2019, but in October 2022, the UAE Government announced a total visa ban on Nigerians.
Neither Emirates nor Air Peace is operating the Nigerian/UAE route since the ban. The persisting non-issuance of visas and the accompanying inconveniences necessitated the suspension of our Dubai operations from November 22, 2022 till date.
“For the former minister to ascribe the suspension to ‘lack of capacity’ is not only shocking but also shows how keen he is to disparage an airline which ascendancy, has defied all the commercial odds and hostile environment placed on its path to continue to serve our nation proudly.
“How could an airline that placed a firm order for 13 brand new E2-195 aircraft, a firm order of 15 Boeing 737 Max 8 & Max 10, with over 30 aircraft already in its existing fleet be accused of lacking in capacity?
How can an Airline that stood up for the entire nation during the Covid-19 outbreak, and embarked on rescue operations worldwide, evacuating Nigerians from far away China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, UK and South Africa during the Covid-19 lockdowns be accused of lacking capacity?
“We implore the general public to disregard these lies told by the former minister of Aviation against Air Peace during the Arise TV Interview.
We take serious exception to a situation where Airpeace is being misrepresented in the public sphere, causing wrong perceptions about our brand.”