Did you know that in the past week, the Minister of Aviation “launched” an airline that many Nigerians, including the House of Representatives, have discovered to be nothing more than a scam? I’m going to give you the full tea on this, and at other times, the government has tried to play a smart one on us. 

If you recall, in July 2018, the federal government launched a national airline, Nigerian Air, which was to serve as the second national airline after the collapse of Nigerian Airways in 2003. But unfortunately, the whole thing turned out to be audio, as the only thing we saw was the logo of Nigerian Air and random pictures; no one ever saw an actual aircraft.

However, it looked like the wait was finally ending when, on May 27, 2023, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, unveiled a Boeing 737-800 aircraft at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja. He also claimed it’d begin international and local flight operations before Monday, June 5. On a norms, this would be cause for celebration, but as you very well know, things don’t work normally here. A few hours later, news reports started pouring in that the unveiled aircraft was already over ten years old and actually belonged to Ethiopia Airlines. The plane was simply painted and presented to Nigerians as an aircraft belonging to Nigeria Air. 

A committee of the House of Representatives on Aviation carried out an investigation, revealing that the aircraft was chartered from Ethiopia and landed the day before. So far, the House has declared the entire launch of the national airline a fraud and has begun probing those involved. But like I said, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of situation. 

In August 2022, the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) management was asked by the Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) to account for how ₦17.158 billion was spent. However, the NSITF couldn’t give a satisfactory explanation and claimed that the documents containing details of the expenditure were kept by the past management and had been beaten by rain and eaten by termites. And, of course, no one was ever penalised for this. 

Do you remember the story of the money-heist snake? In 2018, a sales clerk at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Makurdi, Benue state, couldn’t account for ₦36 million made from the sales of JAMB scratch cards. She instead claimed that her household had spiritually stolen the money from JAMB’s vault with the help of a mysterious snake. At this point, we can say that Nigeria is fighting against power, principalities, and the animal kingdom. 

A sad theme around stories like this is that they usually get swept under the rug. Nonetheless, we’re going to keep an eye out to see how the Nigeria Air story unfolds, and hopefully the perpetrators are justly punished. 

What else happened this week?

Edo State Government Adopts Hybrid Work

Many Nigerians haven’t found adjusting to the recent fuel subsidy removal easy. But, the Edo state government is putting measures in place to make life a little easier for its people. 

On June 6, 2023, in a statement, the Special Adviser to the state governor on Media Projects, Obaseki, announced that the government had reduced the number of work days civil and public servants would have to commute to the office to three and encouraged them to work from home twice a week until further notice. 

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He also stated that steps had been taken to increase the state’s minimum wage from ₦30,000 to ₦40,000. Obaseki also announced that efforts were already being taken to improve the power supply to homes and the availability of fibre optic cables to aid remote work and reduce the cost of transportation. 

Question of the week

Do you know “tapping” electricity and metre bypass is a theft that can earn you jail time in Nigeria? 

Video of the week

Ehen one more thing…

George Akume has been officially sworn in as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Who is he, and what does his job entail? Find the answer here. 

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