Aviation minister in dramatic U-turn, says NSIA not amongst owners of Nigeria Air

By our reporter| The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is not part of the private equity ownership of the Nigeria Air project as initially claimed by the government on Friday, Nigeria’s Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika has clarified.

The minister, who made the clarification in a statement issued by his spokesman, James Odaudu, on Saturday, said NSIA is not in any way involved in the Nigeria carrier bidding process.

“We wish to clarify that the Authority (NSIA) is not involved, in any way, as part of the private equity ownership of the airline, being a government establishment,” the statement read in part.

This is contrary to the brief issued by Odaudu on Friday, which stated that Ethiopian Airlines is the core investor in Nigeria Air with 49 per cent shareholding and that the NSIA is among the three Nigerian investors with 46 per cent equity.

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“After a careful, detailed, and ICRC governed selection process, Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Consortium has been selected as preferred bidder, offering an owner consortium of 3 Nigerian investors MRS, SAHCO, and the Nigerian Sovereign Fund (46%), FGN owning 5% and ET 49%,” the statement quoted Sirika as saying.

But, in less than 24 hours after the aviation minister announced the preferred bidders and investors of the Nigeria carrier, Nigeria Air, the statement described NSIA inclusion as “an error”.

“It should be noted that the NSIA was not mentioned in the Honourable Minister’s presentation, but only in the general brief given to the media, an error made during its preparation,” the statement noted.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the equity ownership structure of Nigeria Air stands as : Ethiopian Airlines 49%, Nigerian private investors (SAHCO, MRS, and other institutional investors) 46% and the Federal Government 5%,” the statement further clarifies.

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“The public, especially the business community and the media should please take note.”

Nigeria has been seeking to set up a national carrier and develop its aviation infrastructure – currently seen as a barrier to economic growth – to create a hub for West Africa.

Nigeria Air is the nation’s proposed national carrier which was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in England on July 18, 2018.

The previous national carrier, Nigeria Airways, was founded in 1958 and wholly owned by the government. It ceased to operate in 2003.



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