President of Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr. Gabriel Olowo, has berated the Federal Government for earmarking N8.5bn for the suspended Nigeria Air project in the 2019 budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly.
This is just as a former director of the defunct Nigeria Airways insisted that the path to establishing a national carrier taken by the government was ill-advised.
Speaking in Lagos, Thursday at the launch of a book; ‘The Learned Commander,’ written by Capt. Dele Ore to mark his 75th birthday, Olowo also criticized the government for setting aside the sum of N500m for the foreign Transaction Advisers in the budget.
According to Olowo, it would only have cost the government a paltry sum to engage the services of technical professionals in the country, who, he added, would give the government appropriate advice on how to go about establishing a befitting national carrier for the country.
While insisting that government was not following the right path in establishing a new national carrier for the country, the ART President further advised it to make use local consultants in the sector to guide them on how to re-establish a new national airline for Nigeria.
“I read it somewhere that the Federal Government proposed another N8.5bn for the establishment of a new national carrier for Nigeria in the 2019 budget proposal to the National Assembly. Out of this money, N500m was set aside for Transaction Advisers.
“If you give the N500m to people like Dele Ore and co, they will advise you better on how to have a befitting national carrier. However, ART as a body will continue to fight for the interest of the former staff of Nigeria Airways. We will continue to drum it to the ears of the government that what is due to them is paid,” Olowo said.
Earlier, author of the book, Capt. Dele Ore, an erstwhile Director of Operations of the defunct Nigeria Airways, posited that the liquidation of the defunct national carrier by the Federal Government was based on wrong advice.
Ore expressed sadness over the liquidation of the airline in 2004 by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government without paying the workers their severance packages.
“Nigeria Airways was all I know in my entire life. In fact, someone boasted that once they remove an aeroplane from me, I will be empty. I retired shortly before the airline was liquidated by the Federal Government.
“The government was ill-advised. It was a costly mistake. To liquidate the airline and not settling the staff was another crime against the staff. However, former President Umaru Yar’Adua did a bit by paying the five years severance packages but Jonathan who was his vice, when he took over did not do anything for the workers.’’
He, however, lauded the present administration for paying a part of the severance package but lamented that he and a few others who retired before the airline was liquidated were still not properly paid their dues.
Ore, a former President of the Aviation Round Table (ART), added that the government’s plan to float another national carrier in Nigeria Air would be difficult until ex-workers of Nigeria Airways were completely settled.