By UCHE USIM
The Federal Government has given reasons why it revoked the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with German national carrier, Lufthansa, saying the deal was scorching the nation’s aviation sector but soothing the airline and the German economy.
In the MoU, the airline was to provide platform for the training of pilots, engineers and ground handling personnel, while the carrier enjoys increased frequency on the Lagos-Frankfurt route. But the government said the airline hurriedly swung into action to enjoy increased frquencies, while abandoning the other side of the deal.
This forced the government to terminate the MoU on November 7, 2012, after the government discovered that Lufthansa did not adhere to the terms of the agreement. A source at the Aviation Ministry, who disclosed the development to Daily Sun, said the MoU between the Nigerian government and Lufthansa dates back to May 31, 2002, when a Commercial Agreement between Nigeria Airways Ltd and Lufthansa was signed; whereby the airline would pay 11% per passenger ticket fee as no Nigerian airline was reciprocating.
“On the 10th November, 2008 during the visit of the President of Germany to Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Aviation (FMA) signed an MoU with Lufthansa with the strategic aim of one, increasing Lofthansa frequencies to daily flight from Frankfurt to Abuja. Two, the airline and other identified Nigerian carriers (where Arik Air was picked) were to use of Abuja as a hub in West Africa with cautious and mutually agreeable cabotage and fifth freedom rights,” the source said. Part of the agreement was for Lufthansa to provide training and employment of Nigerian at management levels, as well as flight attendants on respective flights to and from Nigeria.
Another thing the MoU sought to achieve was to carry out a comprehensive study, by both parties at a mutually acceptable date, on pilot training, aircraft maintenance, ground handling, operations, security, safety and quality management and other fields of cooperation. Daily Sun further gathered that there were two visits to Germany by the Aviation Minister, Fidelia Njeze, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Aviation, Capt Usman Shehu Iyal SSA and other top government officials to work out modalities for the implementation of the MoU using the above stated as guidelines.
The source at the ministry further said that “the report of the 17th May, 2009 meeting with Aviation Minister of Aviation, Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Capt. S.U. Iyal, with Lufthansa clearly stated that Lufthansa would not pay cash for Commercial Agreement but would rather offer other services (training etc) which Mr. President noted and also Permanent Secretary of the Aviation Ministry directed further action. More so, a training Committee headed by Capt. Adebayo Araba, then Rector of NCAT was given the task to coordinate the training requirements of the Ministry and its Agencies for onward to Lufthansa. Lufthansa was also to work in collaboration with Arik Air to development the Nigerian airline”, he explained.
In all, Lufthansa reportedly took advantage of the extra frequencies granted it without working on the training and maintenance part of the MoU. Following the lopsided implementation of the agreement, the incumbent Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah of requested Mr. President’s approval to revoke the MoU with Lufthansa as the benefits of training, employment, etc have not been done. “ Eventually the MoU was revoked on 7th November, 2012 as the Ministry has not seen any appreciable benefit of the MoU with Lufthansa, the source said.