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Federal Gov’t Plans New Upgrade Of 22 Airport Terminals Across The Country

airports

collection of Nigerian airports

With the failure of the airports remodelling project of the former administration, there are indications that the government intends to replicate the facelift currently ongoing at the Lagos airport terminal in other airports across the country, MAUREEN IHUA-MADUENYI writes

Following the completion of the repairs of the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the ongoing facelift of the terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, the Federal Government plans fresh remodelling of all airport terminals in the country.

Our correspondent learnt that after the completion of the Lagos, Port Harcourt and Enugu airport terminals’ facelift, the next in line would be the remodelling of terminals in all the 22 airports across the country.

Areas expected to be fixed are chillers, travellators and escalators, conveyor belts that are out of use, check-in counters and toilets, among others.

It was gathered that engineers had already been mobilised to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu to commence work on the terminal, while two terminals were being constructed at the Port Harcourt International Airport; one by the immediate past government and another one to cater to the needs of passengers presently being attended to under a tent.

The Federal Government, through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, recently commenced the refurbishment of the MMIA, Lagos after Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo visited the airport some weeks ago and complained about the state of its facilities.

In the 2017 appropriation bill, the Federal Government sets aside over N31bn for the construction and repair of federal airports across the nation.

The Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, said there would be total remodelling of all the airports.

She explained, “The last regime started construction of new terminals in most airports and work is ongoing on most of them, so that aspect of remodelling is going on. In Enugu, Port Harcourt and Jos airports, the remodelling is ongoing and new terminals being built through private partnership are coming up.

“We intend to take it up from there. In Lagos, for instance, the construction of a new terminal is ongoing and remodelling is also ongoing at the old terminal, which is the same thing that will happen in the other airports.”

The former Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, had invested massively in the remodelling of airport terminals across the country before she left office.

However, her successor, Mr. Osita Chidoka, in 2014, stopped the remodelling projects, saying that the resources of the ministry should be channelled towards boosting safety and security of airports rather than remodelling them.

“Globally, airport renewal, remodelling, facelift and growth are a continuous exercise as demand increases. It is a welcome development and one will only hope that short, medium and long-term development plans are well articulated and measured periodically in the national development plan for implementation by subsequent governments,” the President, Aviation Roundtable, Mr. Gbenga Olowo, said.

He said such facelift must be done without hardship to airport users, while passenger processing should remain seamless.

“Ordinarily, some of our terminal buildings should be shut down for complete overhaul; but in the absence of near alternatives during such periods, it becomes necessary to do the facelift while the facilities are in use, with minimal discomfort to users,” Olowo added.

Aviation safety consultant and the Chief Executive Officer, Centurium Aviation Security, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd.), however, stated that a fresh remodelling project was not necessary as it would disrupt the proposed concession of some airports to private investors.

He said the government should rather invest more funds in securing the airports.

Ojikutu stated, “The government should not use public money for any terminal building, especially when they are talking of concession; they should concentrate on safety and security infrastructure for all our airports, which are currently lacking.

“They know how much they spent on the Instrument Landing System at the Kaduna airport recently. Most of our airports do not have perimeter fence and those that have, don’t have security fence; the ones with perimeter fence should be enhanced with security fence.”

According to him, there are a lot of things to do with money at the airports rather than giving the terminals a facelift.

“Everywhere I know, terminals are given out to the private sector because they are mere shopping malls; they are not different from Shoprite. Terminal buildings are not in any annexes of the International Civil Aviation Organisation; they only talk about runway, navigational aids and safety, among other issues; from annex one to 19, there is nothing like air conditioner, conveyor belt and that is why we want the government to release these things to individuals and face where they have signed documents with international organisations,” Ojikutu said.

He advised the government to focus on providing good runways, taxiways, the ILS, radar and meteorological infrastructure, and not terminal buildings.

“They can replicate what they have done in Abuja and Lagos in other airports across the country but through concession, which is what happens everywhere else in the world,” he added.                 (Punchng.com)

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Niger Delta Militants Threaten To Resume Bombings For Unfulfilled Promises

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Niger Delta militants

Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt

A coalition of militant groups in the Niger Delta region have threatened to resume attacks on oil installations in the region over alleged unfulfilled promises by the Federal Government to the people of the oil rich region.

The militant groups, under the aegis of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, said in a statement sent via email to our correspondent on Sunday that the Federal Government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, was not sincere in resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.

The statement was signed by the leader of Niger Delta Watchdog, ‘General’ John Duku; ‘General’ Ekpo Ekpo of the Niger Delta Volunteers, ‘Commander’ Henry Etete of the Niger Delta People’s Fighters and ‘Commander’ Asuquo Henshaw of the Bakassi Freedom Fighters.

Duku, who also signed as the leader of the coalition, recalled in the statement that nothing had happened since the Pan Niger Delta Elders’ Forum met with the President in November 2016.

He added that PANDEF persuaded them (militants) to sheathe their swords and embrace dialogue.

The statement said, “There is no more time; the Federal Government must act now and show seriousness and commitment to the plight of Niger Delta or we will be forced to resume attacks.

“We must make sure we liberate our people from the slavery of the Nigerian state. We believe that the Federal Government will not be surprised to see another crisis in the Niger Delta and they should not blame anyone if such happens.

“The Federal Government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, is not sincere in resolving the Niger Delta crisis.”

They described the visit to the Niger Delta region of the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was the acting President then, as a camouflage and tactics of the Federal Government to achieve its normal crude oil production in the area.

The statement added, “We know very well that the visit of the Vice-President (then Acting President) to oil producing states was a big scam, camouflage, deceit and delay tactics by the Federal Government to achieve its normal daily crude oil production.

“We want to state here clearly that we are tired of all unfulfilled promises; we are tired of developing Niger Delta in the media, we are tired of the Vice-President’s unending meetings without follow-up actions.”   (Punchng.com)

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Repatriation Of Funds By Nigerians In Diaspora Drops By 10% In 2016

From Amechi Ogbonna Washington DC, USA

The economic contraction in several countries of the world took a toll on global remittances as the World Bank, Thursday, reported that fund transfers to developing countries fell for a second consecutive year in 2016, a trend not seen in three decades.
According to the latest edition of the Migration and Development Brief, released at the World Bank’s Spring Meetings in Washington DC,USA, officially recorded remittances to developing countries amounted to $429 billion in 2016, representing a decline of 2.4 percent over $440 billion in 2015.
The report shows that  global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, contracted by 1.2 percent to $575 billion in 2016, from $582 billion in 2015.
It also reveals that Inflows from Nigerians in the Diaspora fell by -10 per cent in line with an estimated 6.1 percent drop to $33 billion in 2016, for subsaharan Africa, due largely to slow economic growth in remittance-sending countries; decline in commodity prices, especially oil, which impacted remittance receiving countries; and diversion of remittances to informal channels due to controlled exchange rate regimes in countries like Nigeria where government attempted to implement capital controls to mitigate shortages in resource inflows arising from low oil sales.
Remittances to the region are projected to increase by 3.3 percent to $34 billion in 2017. Recall that Nigeria was last year confronted with acute shortage of foreign currencies which forced the Central Bank of Nigeria to opt for capital controls to manage sharp drop in oil receipts.
According to the World Bank, low oil prices and weak economic growth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation are taking a toll on remittance flows to South Asia and Central Asia, while weak growth in Europe has reduced flows to North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The decline in remittances, when valued in U.S. dollars, was made worse by a weaker euro, British pound and Russian ruble against the U.S. dollar.
As a result, many large remittance-receiving countries saw sharp declines in remittance flows. India, while retaining its top spot as the world’s largest remittance recipient, led the decline with remittance inflows amounting to $62.7 billion last year, a decrease of 8.9 percent over $68.9 billion in 2015.
Remittances to other major receiving countries are also estimated to have fallen last year, including Bangladesh (-11.1 percent), Nigeria (-10 percent), and Egypt (-9.5 percent). The exceptions among major remittance recipients were Mexico and the Philippines, which saw inflows increase by an estimated 8.8 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively, last year.
“Remittances are an important source of income for millions of families in developing countries. As such, a weakening of remittance flows can have a serious impact on the ability of families to get health care, education or proper nutrition,” said Rita Ramalho, Acting Director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group.
In keeping with an improved global economic outlook, remittances to developing countries are expected to recover this year, growing by an estimated 3.3 percent to $444 billion in 2017.
The global average cost of sending $200 remained flat at 7.45 percent in the first quarter of 2017, although this was significantly higher than the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of 3 percent. Sub-Saharan Africa, with an average cost of 9.8 percent, remains the highest-cost region.  (The Sun)

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Nigeria Not Making Progress Because Britain Laid Dubious Foundation-Okpala

By Vincent Kalu

Chief Joseph Okpala has said that the reason Nigeria was not making the expected progress was because the British colonial rulers laid a dubious foundation for the country, adding that separatist agitations remain the trump card for one Nigeria.
What is your assessment of the state of the nation?
With all the noise about change, the indices have shown disaster, and we are being consoled that we have to make sacrifices. Can those sacrifices be matched with honest policies that can move Nigeria forward or sacrifices to be made on alter of political expediency?
You are asking the citizens to make sacrifices, and helplessly they obey and you then make policies tailored to suit a fraction of the society- either the tiny elite group or a section of his people. Like the United Nations Common Country Analysis observed, many things in Nigeria are governed by narrow-minded or myopic approach. There is no nationalistic approach to Nigeria’s governance; it has been all about lip service in the past 50 years; parochial approach to issues.
In recent time, it is only former Vice President Atiku Abubakar from the North, who has seen the reason to call for the restructuring of the country. I don’t know what pushed him to make such a timely statement, maybe, to further his political career. If he made it out of sincere observation that gives hope that Nigeria could be salvaged eventually.
Where did we get it wrong?
We got it wrong from the foundation of corruption the British government laid in Nigeria, whereby they gave undue advantage to the north. They manipulated the census figures to give the north undue advantage, and the result is why it is difficult for Nigeria to know its population, which is a sine qua non for planning for development.
The first census was rigged by the British government in favour of the north. The result is contrary to all existing demographic theories. They claim that the desert region is more populated than the forest region. It is only in Nigeria you have this arrangement. Mali and other desert countries that have the same landmass as Nigeria, what are their population figures? Festus Odimegwu came in as National Population Commission (NPC) chairman, and said Nigeria has never had census, and this drew the ire of Northern politicians who demanded for his immediate removal, and former President Goodluck Jonathan caved in.
Nigeria fought a civil war that ended in 1970, and everybody thought that Biafra was a foreclosed issue, but recently some young men started agitating for Biafra, what could have given rise to it?
When you are oppressing a people and cheating them. No sane society can thrive under such arrangement. You are sowing a seed of trouble, and the fruit it bears is the renewed agitation for Biafra. When America was oppressing the Blacks, it gave rise to agitation championed by people like Martin Luther King Jr, but because they were dealing with intelligent people that wanted their nation to be great, the wall of segregation broke down, and they opened their door that later gave rise to Obama becoming the President of US.  People had to pay the price, like Martin Luther King.  Nnamdi Kanu is an Igbo hero, hero of Eastern Nigeria, and Nigeria’s hero. Let nobody make mistake about it. Just like in one of my write ups, where I described Ojukwu, as an Igbo hero, Eastern hero, and Nigeria’s hero. Such people with courage, guts and nerves make every society to move forward.  Martin Luther King suffered all forms of incarceration, and finally paid with his life. Eventually, about half a century after, one of the most conservative Presidents in American history, Ronald Reagan, signed into the law, a national holiday for Martin Luther King.
In his speech, Reagan said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, here we are standing on the shoulders of a great American, I hereby sign into law, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr national holiday,’ can such thing happen in Nigeria? Nnamdi Kanu is the equivalent of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned for 29 years, and he was treated like a criminal, and after he came out, he became the President of the same country, South Africa. The same White people, who conspired to mess him up lined with other European leaders to have a handshake with him, because they never knew that a Blackman could be so resilience.
People like Buthelezi, the leader of the Zulus, who compromised Black majority interest, where is he today in South Africa, and who remembers him? Kanu shouldn’t compromise. The more he is there; the more it is becoming dangerous for Nigeria, because the world’s conscience would be aroused. He is the conscience of the society, and Femi Fani Kayode, recently said so when he had a chat with him. He said Kanu is Ojukwu and Nzogwu combined.
He is the soul and conscience of Nigeria today, and when he comes out, he will shake hands with heads of states. Through him, the Nigerian authorities are trying to break Igbo’s best attributes – resolve, tenacity and resilience, which was what they did by shooting unarmed Biafra agitators in Onitsha, Aba, Asaba, Port Harcourt and other places.
I’m happy that Amnesty International has written reports of some of the activities of the Nigerian security operatives against those unarmed protesters. Britain did Brexit, no one was shot. Britain feels it has a choice to be in the European Union, but it feels that Black people don’t have the right to determine where they want to be. That is hypocrisy. What makes me happy is the attitude of Kanu’s family members, who are staunchly behind him. In the fullness of God’s time, they would be so proud of their son, likewise the Igbo. These separatist agitations remain the trump card for one Nigeria.   (The Sun)

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Nigeria’s Revenue Can’t Sustain Interest Payment On Debt, Says World Bank

Worldbank

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim

Everest Amaefule, Abuja

Although Nigeria’s total current debt is relatively low compared to the Gross Domestic Product, the interest rate payment is not sustainable by current revenues, the World Bank has said.

Senior Economist at World Bank office in Nigeria, Yue Man Lee, said this in Abuja on Wednesday on the sideline of the release of the 15th edition of Africa’s Pulse, an analysis of issues shaping the continent’s economic future.

For the interest payment to be sustainable, according to Lee, the country either has to increase its revenues or work towards balancing the debt profile to make way for more foreign debt rather than allow the continued dominance of local debt with high interest rates.

She said, “Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio is relatively low. What is of concern is the ratio of interest payment to revenue. That is what is concerning. This reflects the fact that there has been a massive drop in revenues because of the drop in oil revenues.

“There are two main strategies to reduce this debt burden. One is to increase the revenues. Here, in order not to be vulnerable to the volatility of the oil sector, the critical thing is to increase the non-oil revenues like the VAT, the income taxes and the excises outside of oil. This is something we have been discussing with the government about.”

Lee added, “The other area in terms of interest payment is to look at the debt profile. Right now, most of the debt is domestic debt – short term domestic debt – and so, the government has already expressed the strategy to move towards external longer-term debt. You have seen them issuing Eurobonds successfully as part of that strategy.

“The key thing for us in terms of sustainability of the debt profile is raising revenues. That is just the key thing.”

Lee also spoke on the nation’s continuing foreign exchange crisis, saying that further liberalisation could lead to depreciation of the naira, but predicted recovery after a short while.

She stated, “Once it is liberalised, the market will determine the exchange rate. We don’t know exactly what the exchange rate will be. Possibly, it will depreciate further; but then, it may adjust back. These are the forces of demand and supply.

“If the exchange rate depreciates further than what it is at the interbank, there could be some inflationary impact. I think we should bear in mind that right now, a lot more of large scale transactions are possibly done outside of the official interbank exchange rate.”

The World Bank official added, “If a number of transactions are being carried out using the parallel exchange rate, the prices have already been incorporated into the current selling prices. So, it’s a question of how much of inflation impact.

“The second thing to note is that the government has chosen to manage the inflation impact, namely monetary policy. So, that is why the IMF recommended further flexibility in the exchange rate regime with tightening of the monetary policy.”  (Punchng.com)

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All Previous Census Manipulated To Favour The North, Says Ozekhome

Human Rights Activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome

From Fred Itua, Abuja

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has alleged that previous censuses conducted since the almagamation of the northern and southern regions of Nigeria, have always been manipulated to favour the North.
“All the censuses we have ever had in this country have always been manipulated. They have never reflected the true population of Nigeria. This is the only country in this world where the population in the dry region is higher than those in the wetlands,” he said.
Ozekhome was reacting to a recent statement made by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, wherein he called on the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) to shelve the conduct of the proposed 2018 national census.
According to Dogara, politicians will take advantage of the census exercise to cook up figures and manipulate the outcome of the 2019 general election.
But addressing newsmen in his office yesterday, Ozekhome, said it is wrong for states “laying the golden eggs to have fewer local government areas.”
“This is because of our attachments to national resources. Look at this. The old Kano was divided into Kano and Jigawa states. As I speak, Kano State has 44 local government areas, while Jigawa has 27. National resources sharing is based on this.
“Let us look at Bayelsa. Bayelsa lays the golden egg, but it has only 8 local government areas. If Bayelsa lays the eggs, where is the justice in this country, when those who do not lay the eggs get the lion’s share?
“When Dogara is afraid of census before 2019 elections, I sympathise with him. He knows that census is an explosive matter in this country.
“The former chairman of National Population Commission (NPC) said previous censuses were false, he was sacked because certain parts of this country did not like what he said.
“I agree with the speaker that the census should not be held. The 2019 elections are almost here. Let the census be held after the 2019 elections. If its held, it will be manipulated by politicians. The same politicians can even use the census exercise to disrupt the conduct of the 2019 general election.”

Ozekhome also reacted to another statement credited to some northern leaders, who recently called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to implement resolutions reached at the 2014 National Conference, held in Abuja.
He described those calling on President Buhari not to implement the resolutions of the Conference report as hypocrites. He said the northern leaders participated in the conference and were part of the decisions reached by over 450 delegates drawn from every part of the country.
“It was a battle royale at the 2014 National Conference. At the 2014 National Conference, we made over 600 recommendations. No one was forced to adopt any report. We disagreed during the conference and almost exchanged blows.
“It is alarming when you see participants of that conference coming out to say that they have rejected the outcome of the exercise. Every segment of Nigeria from the six geopolitical zones were represented at that conference.
“We cannot take our unity for granted. It needs to be nurtured. We need to go back to fiscal federalism. The over 600 recommendations of the National Conference which President Muhammadu Buhari has said he will put away in the archives, is unfortunate,” Ozekhome added.  (The Sun)

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Aero Contractor Flight Filled With Smoke In Mid Air, As Passengers Panic, Pray (Video)

A Nigerian Twitter user, has narrated how the domestic passenger plane she boarded on Tuesday nearly burst into flames on Tuesday.

She said the terrifying incident began barely 20 minutes into the flight after a fault developed and the interior of the plane was filled with smoke.

A video she posted along with a series of tweets after they landed safely on Tuesday evening from the Lagos-bound Aero Contractors flight from Port Harcourt showed how terrified the passengers were, many chanting prayers loudly.

See the tweets and video below.

(Punchng.com)

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