Arik Air has claimed that they were forced out of business for refusing to part with 5% of its corporate shares to Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah.
A text message purported to originate from the airline reads:
“Due to persistent hostility of the Ministry of Aviation, with a minister who is demanding a 5 percent equity in a business where she has no investment…and FAAN management, which has culminated in the use of FAAN staff to stop the airline operations and lock in checked-in passengers in Lagos this morning.
Arik Air has suspended all domestic operations until further notice. This issue [borders] on personal interests and not payment of bills; since FAAN has been collecting.”
According to Sahara Reporters, a senior official of Arik defended the airline’s account of the source of the company’s woes. “It is a pity that a minister can cause so many problems for an airline just because she did not have her way,” the official said.
Ms. Oduah is regarded as one of the closest ministers to President Goodluck Jonathan. In the 2011 general election, she served as treasurer for Mr. Jonathan’s campaign. The Arik source claimed that the minister pressured owners of the airline to hand her a 5% stake in the ownership of Arik, asserting that she was making the demand on behalf of President Jonathan.
But in a related development, FAAN MD Mr. George Uriensi said the airline was owing them over 7 billion naira.
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