Newsmen gathered that federal government yesterday ordered contractors handling the remodeling of airports across the country, who failed to deliver their various remodeling projects, to return the funds they collected to government’s purse.
Aviation minister, Chief Osita Chidoka, who gave the directive, also offered reasons why the planned re-establishment of a national carrier for Nigeria had not seen the light of day since the liquidation of Nigeria Airways in 2003.
It was further learnt that at the commencement of the exercise, the minister had taken $88 million from the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA), deposited in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as one of the signatories to the account.
A former supervising minister in the sector, Chief Samuel Ortom, had declared that former aviation minister, Princess Stella Oduah, left behind N174 billion debts from the remodelling exercise, an allegation Oduah had not debunked.
Presenting his scorecard as aviation minister in the last eight months, Chidoka said many of the contractors had nothing to show for the mobilisation funds and other contract funds they had already collected, and they must, therefore, refund the monies.
He also noted that, in some cases, the quality of job done was very poor while in other cases they were uncompleted.
Oduah had commenced the airport remodelling exercise in 2011.
Chidoka explained that on his assumption of office, the government had set up a committee to look at some of the projects that had been abandoned, and few weeks later, the committee came up with a report that most of jobs done by the contractors were substandard.
Chidoka noted that aside the order that they return money for jobs not done, most of them had been asked to return to site to complete the projects.
On the issue of a national carrier, the minister attributed the inability of Aero Contractors to emerge as a national carrier to the inability of the airline to source for partners as well as resolve issues bordering on funding mechanism and equity holding.
Chidoka said Aero Airlines, which has been acquired by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), with government having majority equity holding, did not possess the capacity to be a national carrier.