Nigeria's minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Wednesday, July 17, unveiled the name and logo of the nation's new national carrier, Nigeria Air.
Speaking in London at the Farnborough International Airshow, Sirika said: "This will be a national carrier that is private sector led and driven.
"It is a business, not a social service. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. The investors will have full responsibility for this."
He added that the government will not own more than five percent of the airline. "We want to use this new private-sector-led airline to make a statement that, ‘Yes, Nigeria can do it!’ and we also want to promote our cultures and traditions. It will also create economic opportunities and jobs," Sirika said.
The airline is set to commence operations in December 2018.
Meanwhile, the announcement has drawn severe criticisms and divergent opinions from Nigerians.
While some believe that having a new national airline is something to be proud of as a country, others believe that having a new airline is just a sheer misplacement of priority; they cited various fruitless efforts by previous governments to set up a national airline as one of the premises for their arguments.
Oby Ezekwesili, a prominent social critic and one of the conveners of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign, is one of the major voices against the new airline.
However, the issue that seems to draw the most attention from Nigerians does not centre on the above arguments.
Barely after the official announcement and unveiling of Nigeria Air’s logo, news started filtering in that the logo was designed by a company based in Bahrain.
Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain, is an Arab constitutional monarchy in the Persian Gulf. It is an island country.
Below are few reactions from Nigerians on Twitter:
Is Nigeria Air’s logo actually designed by a foreign company?
On Wednesday, July 18, a company in Bahrain named FROM6 Communications announced on its Facebook page that it designed the Nigeria Air’s logo.
“Very proud to showcase our most recent Airline branding project, Nigeria Air. Nigeria’s new flag carrier which was unveiled at Famborough Airshow today. #Nigeria #NigeriaAir"
Neither the minister of state for aviation, Sirika, nor the federal government denied that the logo was designed by FROM6 Communications as claimed in the post above.
However, perhaps due to the backlash that came with the discovery, FROM6 Communications deleted the post and published another on Friday, July 20 at about 9 pm saying it worked with a Nigerian marketing agency Image & Time.
The state aviation minister has since not reacted to FROM6 Communications's post.
Also, the named Nigerian marketing agency, Image and Time, has not, as at the time of filing this report, published anything regarding its involvement in the project on its website.
However, in a report by The Punch, the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) said the branding and naming of the new national carrier came after a social media campaign it undertook.
It said invited Nigerian youths were asked for their input in order to come up with a name for the new flag carrier, adding that the ministry’s Facebook page and website engaged over 400,000 people.
The Punch quoted Sirika to have said: “Government will not hold shares beyond five percent at the topmost. This airline has the backing of the government. Government will come up with funding according to the business case that has been delivered to the government. We will engage the youth of Nigeria because we do believe in the ‘Not Too Young to Run’.
“We engaged them in the campaign to name this airline. We engaged 400,000 Nigerian youths to arrive at the name of the airline. All of their ideas were taken and digested and we came up with what is an average. The airline will take into cognizance the multicultural nature of the nation through its diversity. We want to use this airline to make a statement that yes, we can do it.”
In fairness to the ministry, there was a dedicated website where Nigerian youth and students were asked to contribute their ideas and creativity in developing the new Nigerian Flag carrier: nameyourairlinenigeria.com
Post from the website was also shared on the ministry’s Facebook page.
However, the ministry did not announce how it eventually came about the design and the input of the Nigerian youth and students.
It has also refused to explain how From6 Communications, a foreign company not based in Nigeria, ended up being the designer of the project.
FROM6 Communications, a company based in Bahrain confirmed, in its first post, that it designed the Nigeria Air’s logo and the Nigerian government did not deny the company’s role in the design project.
Coming up with another post claiming partnership with a Nigerian company (after deleting the initial post which did not include a partnership with any Nigerian company) is apparently an afterthought which lacks any iota of credibility.
Awarding the contract to a company in Bahrain is contradictory to the federal government’s campaign urging Nigerians to patronise local firms, services and locally made products.
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