Senate Frown at N500bn Aviation intervention fund

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Bank of Industry Building

The Senate committees on Aviation and Anti-corruption on Monday frowned at the way the N120 billion bailout to the aviation sector from the N500 billion intervention fund, was allegedly mismanaged.

This was even as the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said his ministry and agencies under it, based on available records, were not aware of the fund.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by a Director, Mudashiru Olaitan, said out of the N120 billion intervention fund injected into the sector, only N39.5 billion has been recovered while N81.2 billion was still outstanding.

He admitted that some of the ten airlines that benefitted from the fund have folded up, which according to him, was against the original purpose for which the funds were released.
Arik, Dana, Aero, Kabo, Overland, First Nation, Odenegene Airlines are still in operation on the strength of the funds. AirNigeria and Chanchangi Airlines are named as those that have folded up.

When probed on why two of the airlines folded up despite the intervention fund, he said the responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the fund by the beneficiaries was given to the Bank of Industry (BoI ) being the facilitator of the loans to them.

But other stakeholders at the session including John Nnorom who served as finance director of defunct AirNigeria, said diversion of the fund to other ventures led to the collapse of the airline. According to him: “The moment the N34.5 billion intervention fund was paid into the Airline’s account with United Bank for Africa ( UBA), the funds were diverted to one of the private accounts of the owner without any amount from the fund injected into the Airline, paving the way for its eventual collapse.”

Efforts by the committee to make further enquiries about the alleged diversion was frustrated with the absence of BoI Managing Director and other relevant stakeholders. The committee however directed the CBN Governor and heads of other agencies including Airlines to appear before it today.

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