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By NBF News
Listen to article The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has debunked allegations that $500 million was borrowed from China to acquire aircraft for  domestic airlines.

The General Manager, Corporate Communications FAAN, Yakubu Datti in a press release  on Saturday described it as  cheap blackmail.

He said: 'FAAN has not borrowed $500 million naira from China nor any country for that matter. Furthermore, FAAN is not acquiring aircraft, as claimed in the statement'.

According to him, FAAN is a service provider in the industry and is presently occupied with translating the transformational aviation master plan into concrete realities.

'At present, the Authority is focused on the reconstruction of 22 airports across the country as initiated by the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah. The Lagos Terminal 1, popularly known as GAT has since been commissioned while the remaining airports are at different stages of completion. Work on the remaining 11 airports in the 2nd phase will soon begin', he said.

He emphasised that  the orientation of aviation employees was being vigorously pursued through capacity development, and the Director, Mr. George Uriesi is spearheading this paradigm shift towards service delivery, accountability, and self-sustenance.

He noted that  the Ministry of Aviation was making arrangements to facilitate the acquisition of 30 airplanes to boost the operations of domestic airlines. According to him, the modalities are being fine-tuned, to checkmate the abuse of the aviation intervention fund.

'This strategy will plug the loophole that allows fortune seekers free access to these funds' he  said

However, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has supported the federal government's plan to acquire 30 aircraft to boost domestic operations in the aviation industry, stressing that it was high time Nigerians travelled by air with more comfort attached to it.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Union's Acting General Secretary, Comrade Musa Lawal and President, Peter Esele.

The TUC  said, 'We are not against the government leasing aircraft to private operators who can manage them very well and return our money because the planes will be bought with public funds.'

According to Lawal, 'in the past, Nigeria Airways was grounded because some people booked seats without paying under the guise of being on official duty and so, the Congress insists that the government must ensure that the funds to be invested in the planes are recovered'.

He adds, 'We urge the government to learn from past mistakes and ensure that the exercise is well executed to achieve its intended results'.

The Labour leader, who emphasised that the government must also be ready to face reality, admit its mistakes and make corrections where necessary, however said 'The congress has thrown it's weight in support of Government plan that the aircraft would be distributed to domestic airline operators, a departure from the old practice, where they were given money from the Aviation Intervention Fund to shore up their businesses.'