The establishment of Nigeria Air (NWB, Lagos) - the federal government's national carrier venture with a consortium of investors led by Ethiopian Airlines – continues to be mired in politics and legal entanglements as West Africa's most populous nation prepares to go to the polls to elect a new president and government on February 25, 2023, following a week of riots in three cities over a cash crisis in the country.

Analysts predict a change of government may have a far-reaching impact on the fate of Nigeria Air, whose establishment is on hold by order of the Federal High Court in Lagos following complaints from the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on competitive grounds. The court, on February 13, failed to hear the ongoing case postponed from January 16. On November 15, the court granted the AON an interim injunction which restrained the federal government from selling Nigeria Air shares to Ethiopian Airlines.

Meanwhile, AON's lawyers have been given a week from February 13 to respond to an application from Nigeria Air, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, and Attorney General Abubakar Malami, to have the case transferred to Abuja, reports African Travel Times.

In another complication, AON is embroiled in a legal dispute with two members of its board of trustees who have challenged the organisation's authority to sue the federal government over Nigeria Air. The two executives (names withheld), including a former chairman of AON, approached the Lagos court in December 2022, distancing themselves from the AON suit. On February 13, the organisation responded, presenting minutes of a meeting where it was agreed that the AON should pursue legal and political options to stop the creation of Nigeria Air.

Meanwhile, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari met with Ethiopian Airlines Board Chairman Girma Wake in Addis Ababa on February 19 at the sidelines of the 36th African Union Summit, during which they reportedly discussed Nigeria Air. Buhari told Wake that it was a "weighty decision" by the Nigerian government to re-launch a national carrier, expressing confidence that "things will be alright," reported Voice of Nigeria.

Wake had requested a resolution of the legal obstacles delaying Nigeria Air and also asked for the repatriation of the airline's funds trapped in the country over foreign exchange challenges. Nigeria holds USD551 million of foreign airline funds as foreign currency demand in the country outpaces supply. The country is also engaged in talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over at least USD85 million of funds withheld from Emirates (EK, Dubai International), which has since stopped servicing the country.

On February 8, Sirika told Nigerian reporters that Nigeria Air was approaching full certification by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. "We've done stages one, two, three and four [of the air operator's certificate (AOC) process], and we are now at stage five; once the AOC is given, the aircraft is ready to start to fly," he was cited by Premium Times. The nascent carrier plans to operate a fleet of Boeing 737s.