Few countries have been so poorly administered as Nigeria, and Nigerian aviation history is chock full of failed airlines and failed attempts to rehabilitate failing airlines. By 1992 Nigeria Airways was a right mess, racked by corruption and owing more than US$100 million. There was hope though that it could be turned around and a radical proposal to split the airline and create Air Nigeria for a brief time looked like it might be the answer.
In January 1992 Captain Mohammed Joji was appointed as CEO of the national airline by General Ibrahim Babangida, the President of the then military government. He had previously worked with British Airways and on his return to Nigeria had setup Skypower Express Airways. Joji's idea was to setup a new airline, Air Nigeria. This would not replace Nigeria Airways but instead takeover its international services to London, New York, Rome, Jeddah and Johannesburg. Nigeria Airways would continue to operate domestic and regional services. I assume the thought was that the new airline untouched by debt and the institutional decay of the original would be able to operate effectively and gradually assist in paying off the debts of the old Nigeria Airways. Then again it could have just been another method to siphon off cash!
Joji hired a British consultant, Keith Bolshaw, who worked with Swissair and SABENA to get the new carrier up and running. The foreign partners would own 40% of the new Air Nigeria, the government 40% and staff and public shareholders 20%. The proposal was presented at the African Airline Association meeting in 1992 and apparently was well received, more so than Kenya Airways rehabilitation scheme.