Sir Richard Branson,
a very adventurous, business savy billionaire had negotiated with the Federal government of Nigeria to launch a new national carrier called Virgin Nigeria.
This was a fantastic opportunity for Sir Branson and the Federal government because once again the international community could pay close attention and notice Nigeria is serious about foreign investment.
In June 2005 Virgin Nigeria took off and suddenly there was excitement and a different kind of competitor in the Nigerian aviation industry. Somewhere in this excitement something was mentioned about the use of Murtala International Airport at least from Virgin Nigeria.
Fast forward to August 2008, We hear Virgin Nigeria have been thrown out of the International wing of the airport (Infact forcefully in typical Nigerian style)and asked to relocate to what we know as the local airport . Management of the local airport is now in the hands of a local private sector firm, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited. Bi-Courtney describe the domestic airport and its facilities as one of the best in the country right now but Virgin Nigeria describe it as crap basically.
Somewhere in the mix there is mention of security risk and some major disagreement on what constitutes a true International binding contract agreement . Apparently what Virgin claims is part of the agreement was described by the Special Adviser on Communications to the President, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyias as a letter written on Virgin Nigeria’s letter-head and signed by Branson before Yuguda the then Minister of Aviation endorsed it on behalf of the Federal Government....
He said the document, which contained 10 demands from Branson, was not binding on Nigeria.
Aside from this we hear Sir Richard Branson may soon dump his 49 per cent stake in Virgin Nigeria and reduce it to 7 per cent due to various issues concerning other business partners and the fact that Virgin Nigeria has recorded some losses recently.
His Excellency President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua on the other hand is determined to put the Interest of Nigeria first according to the special advisor.
What is going on ??? We need foreign Investors , We need a national carrier and We need to respect the rules and regulations of the Federal republic of Nigeria and its people.
Can this be resolved amicably ? Can we consider compensation? Can we make progress?
Is this ignominy ? or has something been defiled.