By News Express
The battle-line has become drawn between Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, and the country’s biggest airlines, Arik.
The war between both camps got messier this morning with the minister dismissing Arik as “a floundering enterprise” that is “groaning from a crippling N85.4 billion debt overhang.” She also denied allegations of conflict of interest made against her by Arik Management, which two days ago blamed their decision to suspend domestic operations on the hostility and unprofessional demands of the minister and some other unnamed ministry officials.
Replying this morning through her Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Joe Obi, the Aviation Minister (shown in photo) said she has started the process of suing Arik. Entitled “Arik Airlines’ Conflict of Interest Allegation Laughable, Diversionary”, the statement said in full:
“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, OON, has been drawn to a fabrication credited to the Management of Arik Airlines, to the effect that the Minister demanded a 5 percent equity holding in the airline. The story alleged a Ministry of Aviation hostility against Arik on account of the so-called equity demand that it claimed to have turned down!
“The first impulse is to totally ignore this groundless falsehood. Except that it will send the wrong signals to the general public. Therefore, the sole intent of this release is to put the records straight.
“The 5 percent equity story is without any foundation whatsoever. It is absurd, malicious and ultimately laughable. The Honorable Minister of Aviation could not have contemplated acquiring a stake in any airline, let alone Arik Air that is groaning from a crippling N85.4 billion debt overhang.
“The time is ripe for Arik Air to change its business module that ‘thrives’ on unprecedented accumulation of debts and liabilities. The futile attempt to impugn the integrity of the Aviation Minister by inferring a conflict of interest against her is at best diversionary. It should be obvious to the management of Arik Air that blackmail is not a panacea for a floundering enterprise.
“The Honourable Minister of Aviation has directed her lawyers to seek legal redress for this malicious allegation by Arik Air.”