- Nigeria government has refused to enter into any deal with management of Virgin Nigeria, a domestic airline operator, which would allow airline to use international terminals at Murtala Mohammed and Nnamdi Azikiwe international airports in Lagos and Abuja respectively, for its domestic flights.
Presidential spokesman, Mr Olusegun Adeniyi said yesterday that there was nothing in memorandum of understanding signed by both parties indicating such authorisation.
Government's position had to be clarified after a negative media campaign was made, launched by proprietor of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Mr Richard Branson, that Nigeria pulled out of an earlier agreement signed between his organisation and previous government.
This reportedly occurred after Nigerian aviation authorities had ordered Virgin Nigeria to stop domestic operations from international terminals of two major airports.
The spokesperson said memorandum of understanding did not show any clause to suggest granting of that exclusive right to Virgin.
He added that Airlines was basing its claim on a personal letter written by Mr Branson to then minister of Aviation Isa Yuguda, in which Mr Branson reportedly made 10 demands.
One of these demands was "the airline will be allowed to use the relevant international terminals in Nigerian airports for all airlines operations, including both international and domestic services subject to compliance with ICAO's standard and recommended practices on Aviation security."
He described Mr Yuguda's action as one of many "illegally-binding contracts" with multinationals that were hurriedly signed by public officials in past without putting national interest into consideration, saying Yar'Adua government was determined to change agreements that were detrimental to national interest.
"One major challenge for this administration is the fact that over years, public officials hardly bothered about interest of our people when entering into contracts and agreements on behalf of federal government. That is why our oil industry remains what it is today since most contracts were written by multinational oil companies to detriment of nation and our officials merely signed. But with president Yar'Adua, many things are going to change and he will use law as his weapon," he said.
He said that even on security ground, government had exclusive right to order Virgin out of international terminal.
"There is also security issue involved in whole debate, which means that even if Virgin has a valid claim, which as it were it doesn't have, they can still be told to leave international wing on grounds of security," he said.
Nigerian government under president Yar'Adua, has been on an anti-corruption drive, that has seen most deals sealed by multi-national companies with past governments being revoked.
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