Allen Onyema, the chairman of Air Peace has disclosed that in 2022, Air Peace spent ₦78 billion naira on maintenance and these funds went to foreign countries.
He also disclosed that the airline has about $14 million stranded with the Central Bank Nigeria and about 15 aircraft stranded abroad.
Onyema made these statements in an address he delivered on August 28, 2023, at the Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association held in Abuja.
He said Nigerian airlines do not lack capacity; but a truthful government, support and ease of doing business.
The Air Peace boss went on to recount how he applied to run a maintenance hangar in 2015 after paying over 100 million naira to FAAN to lease land at the Lagos Airport but added that Air Peace is yet to get the land even eight years after.
Urges government action
He said: “As I speak to you, we are yet to get that land. We are the largest carrier in West and Central Africa and the fastest growing airline in Africa. Yet we do not have a maintenance hangar. Not because we do not have funds to build one. If we had been given the land to build the hangar, by now, Nigeria will have an MRO they will be proud of, and this will attract foreign investments because other countries will come here to maintain their aircraft”.
Onyema said the ease of doing business in Nigeria is low as local investors face a lot of statutory bottlenecks which stifle their growth.
In his words: “We are not serious in this country about encouraging indigenous investments. How do you grow your economy when local investors are being treated with levity and envy by their own ministers?
“How do you grow your economy when indigenous investments are overtaxed? These same investors are providing jobs for the populace. How do you grow your economy when people in government see you as an enemy, a rival, because they are beclouded by whatever sentiments they believe in, thereby making business difficult.”
Onyema, who noted that the Nigerian economy is low-ebbed, said with political will, significant progress can be made, while urging Nigerians to give this current government time and benefit of doubt.
“They(government) inherited a massive governance burden, and the government needs forthrightness, sincerity of purpose, and a radical political will.
“The government must be decisive enough to confront the entrenched vested interests in the polity. It must do everything to dismantle those interests. Public servants must be statesmen who must be committed to the principles of democratic governance. If this is not done, we are in for a serious problem.
The government must be ready to adopt a hardline commitment to the principles of democratic governance, even in the face of reactionary pressures arising from the entrenched vested interests. All hands must be on deck to make this country work”.
He said the practice of ethnic nationalism has slowed Nigeria’s development while also stressing that the country’s ease of doing business is poor.