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FG Suspends Airline For illegally Flying Naira Marley To Abuja Show

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The Federal Government on Monday announced the suspension of the operation of Executive Jets Service indefinitely, following the violation of the approval it was granted.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika explained that the government gave approval for the flight that flew in the popular musician, Azeez Fashola, also known as Naira Marley, from Lagos to Abuja.

He, however, explained that the flight was meant to fly in Justice Adefope Okojie from Lagos to Abuja and back to Lagos and not the musician.

The musician featured and entertained fun-seekers at the Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja over the weekend.

The musician flew from Lagos to Abuja despite the ban on interstate movements and flights.

Speaking yesterday at the daily briefing by members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Sirika said the flight was not meant to convey any musician, but the justice after considering the judiciary as an essential duty.

In addition, the minister also said the captain, who operated the flight would be sanctioned for misleading the control tower.

The minister also read some content of the approval letter it gave to the operator of the airline.

The minister said: “The brief today is for the unfortunate flight that was approved by Civil Aviation Authority to come into Abuja and the passengers of that flight conducted a concert.

“Well, we approved a flight but certainly not for any musician. The flight, from the application, was to convey Honourable Justice Adefope Okojie from Lagos to Abuja and back to Lagos for an official assignment.

“In this challenging time, in our wisdom, we considered the judiciary to be part of the essential service to be delivered. Having to move the Justice from Lagos to Abuja was in order. The approval was given for the 14th of June, 2020. However, we do give them a leeway of 24 hours sometimes due to operational reasons.

“They can operate the flight slightly earlier or slightly forward within 24 hours. In this case, the operators choose to fly on the 13th at about 6:00 pm. So, that itself is not a violation to operate earlier because we gave him the leeway.”

The minister added: “The operator is Executive Jets Services and the approval was very clear and I will read part of it. This is the letter from the ministry of Aviation to the Chairman of the Executive Jets Services and it was signed by the Director of Air Transport Management on my behalf.

The minister also read out the document that was given to the control tower as part of the evidence that the approval was not meant for the musician.

On the suspension of the jet services, Sirika said: “The operation is a clear violation of our approval to which we take very seriously and it seems this is becoming a norm. Perhaps, this is the second time. So, Executive Air Services operations are hereby suspended indefinitely. We will also fine them maximally according to the law.

“The captain of the flight will also be sanctioned for giving wrong information to the control tower and also appropriately in accordance with our law.”

BIG STORY

Financial Recklessness: Pondei, Other NDDC Staff Spent N5bn As Medical Allowances During Lockdown —- Senate Report [Full Breakdown]

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The Senate report on the alleged financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission has revealed how the top management of the agency shared N4.9bn among themselves in the guise of medical checkup.

The document also showed that the management paid N114.9m as a supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members during the same period.

It stated that both disbursements were made when the nation was under lockdown to check COVID-19 spread.

The report was adopted and approved by the Senate shortly before it proceeded on its annual recess penultimate week.

A copy of the document obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Monday indicated that the monies were paid to the individual accounts in March and April this year.

The document indicated that the acting Managing Director, Daniel Pondei, and the two executive directors got N14.2m each.

The report noted that no such payment took place during the first Interim Management Committee led by Joi Nunieh.

It nonetheless, stated that available data showed that the allowance had been in existence even though it appeared to have no specific policy underpinning it.

The report stated, “The three members of the Interim Management Committee received the highest amount of N142m each.

“Two other people, namely Evan Caroline Nagbo and Ms Cecilia Akintomide, took N12,387,500 each, while Peter Uwa Edieya was paid N10,340,000.

The report further added that four other members of staff collected about N8m each while 140 others collected an average of N7m each.

The NDDC management also paid 75 others N6m each while 153 staff members were paid N5.5m.

Four other categories of staff were paid between N4.1m and N4.8m while seven others got about N3m each.

The document further indicated that 804 staff members collected between N2.4m and N2.9m each.

Apart from these, the document showed that the management paid N114.9m as a supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members.

No fewer than 15 of them got N7m while one of them collected N5.2m.

The rest however collected between N375, 000 and N550, 000 each.

The report indicated that “payment to all the 1,401 staff who received the allowance was made on 16 March 2020.”

It added that the distribution of the payment category and the number of staff did not suggest a regular hierarchical pattern and an absence of clear policy, which raised suspicion of arbitrariness.

The report also stated that the NDDC management used staff members for the distribution of Lassa Fever kits.

It explained that Personal Protective Kits were given to the 185 LGAs of the Niger Delta states through the NDDC staff.

The staff members, according to the document, were paid various amounts, ranging from N300,000 to N6,845,000, on April 15, 2020, for the distribution of the kits.

The report stated, “The total amount used for the distribution is N55,090,000.

“Twenty-nine employees were engaged in ‘Monitoring of the Emergency Response Programme on Lassa Fever Outbreak at a cost of N5,972,500’.

“NDDC did not provide any returns on the end-user beneficiaries which would have helped in evaluating the accountability and transparency of the programme. There was also no mention of the original target beneficiaries.

“NDDC management did not provide details of allocation of the Lassa fever Protective Kits per each state and LGA and how the distributors were assigned as well as the collated report on the distribution exercise.

“They should have justified the huge amount of money allocated for the exercise.”

The report further added that by its own record. NDDC spent N808.9m as imprest between October 29 2019 and May 23. 2020.

It stated that “this covers a period of seven months during most of which the nation was on lockdown.

“Given that significant amount was also expended on travels, duty tour allowance during this period, payment of bills, it is difficult to justify this huge amount as imprest necessary for the services of the commission.”

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BIG STORY

mediaReach OMD Employs Data On Media Consumption To Aid Businesses In Navigating The New Normal

Peter Okunoren

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mediaReach OMD, a frontline marketing and media agency, had during this period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, guided media planners, buyers, and businesses in their investment bid with data-driven newsletters on media consumption habit to maximize profits and increase productivity and to navigate the new normal.

Published in ThisDay Newspapers and titled “COVID-19 and Media Consumption Habit, What has Changed?,” the newsletters are a culmination of the sequence of information aimed at examining the potential impact of the pandemic on audience behaviour and media consumption in Nigeria.

It also contains thought starters and needed actions regarding adaptation of the definition of the new normal posed by the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, the Managing Director of the Agency, Nitinchandra Nandekar, said the firm has been monitoring changes in media consumption and adapting to innovative ways of connecting with the target audience, through data-led approaches to guide clients’ investments during the COVID-19 lockdown/post lockdown.

Nandekar avowed that while businesses, especially the marketing and media ecosystem waits for an end to this deadly disease which has dealt a hard blow on world economies, the journey to success will continue to be guided with key principles, including being ready for the day after.

The foremost media agency with presence in Nigeria, West, and Central Africa, posits that media consumption which is in favour of the TV continues to be stable with much attention on genres like news and entertainment, while businesses are now adopting a more creative and innovative form of operations with adaptation to the new normal.

Commending the media agency for these initiatives, the Chairman and Managing Director of Expand Global Industries Limited, Rajat Kapur, said as a global partner of Henkel for Media Investment Solutions, MediaReach OMD helps not only in the normal ways but regularly releases data-driven media intelligence information newsletters which ensure that Henkel is prepared to deal with the new normal characterised by the pandemic.

This, he said, contains the changing consumer habits, the higher need for hygiene-based products and the changing media landscape, all highlighted for a better clearer and stronger media investment leading to best in class equity development of Henkel’s brands.

In his remark, the President of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), Tony Agenmonmen, said the breakout of the pandemic has been a defining moment for the world.

He affirmed that the deadly disease came with uncertainty and fear because no one knows exactly what was going on, not even the experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO) which has been struggling a bit.

“A bewildered world therefore became anxious and hungry for news. And with the lockdowns in almost all parts of the world, consumers were hungry for information. They tried to stay connected to all the news about the pandemic and social media was the greatest beneficiary,” he said.

Agenmonmen continued “It helped that some brands understood this and were able to help in providing the information in ways that were not seen as exploiting the fears and worries of consumers. Six months down the line, it appears that the world has come to accept that we will have to live with it for an indeterminate while. The fears remain.”

On the importance of data to investment, the NIMN President remarked that without it, organisations cannot plan their daily activities properly. “Data is life, it is very critical in running your day-to-day investment. If you have the right data, then you are on the right path to success,” he avowed.

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BIG STORY

COVID-19: Air Peace Sacks 70 Pilots, Cuts Salaries By 40%

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A Nigerian airline, Air Peace, has sacked over 70 pilots across its fleet.

It also reduced staff salaries by up to 40 percent.

A member of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers disclosed this to one of our correspondents, craving anonymity.

The source said the number of sacked pilots was between 70 and 75 in total.

The management of the airline, however, linked the pilots’ disengagement to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pilots had, on July 22, protested a major pay cut after negotiations with the management over their remuneration broke down.

A statement issued on Monday by Mr. Stanley Olise, spokesperson of the airline, described the sacking of the pilots as “painful but rightful decision.”

Part of the statement read, “The airline cannot afford to toe the path of being unable to continue to fulfill its financial obligations to its staff, external vendors, aviation agencies, maintenance organizations, insurance companies, banks, and other creditors, hence the decision to restructure its entire operations with a view to surviving the times.

“The pandemic has hit every airline worldwide, so badly that it has become very impossible for airlines to remain afloat without carrying out an internal restructuring of their costs.

“Anything short of what we have done may lead to the collapse of an airline as could be seen in some places worldwide during this period. Therefore, we decided to review the salaries being paid to all staff.

“The new salaries reflect a zero per cent-40 percent cut of the former salary, depending on the salary grades of every staff. Even after the cuts, it was obvious that for us to be able to sustain our operations and survive the times, some jobs must inevitably have to go.

“Air Peace has never, for one day, ever owed salaries to its workers in its almost six years of existence, pilots inclusive. Rather, the management of Air Peace has always been known to be increasing salaries of its employees periodically, without being prompted by staff.

“In fact, in one fell swoop, Air Peace increased the salaries of pilots by over 100 percent in one day. Our salaries have always been paid even before the end of the month in the last five years.

“The decision is a reflection of the negative impact of the pandemic on airlines and aviation worldwide.

“We are in trying times. Even the biggest airlines in Europe, America, Middle East, Asia, Australia, and, indeed, Africa, are all either slashing jobs and cutting salaries in order to remain afloat or are shutting down.

“Air Peace is not immune from these challenges.”

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