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Airline Operators Fault Sirika’s Move To Float Nigeria Air Days To Handover, Say “It’s Shadowy”

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Domestic aviation firms, under the umbrella of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), have condemned plans by Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, to deliver Nigeria Air, the proposed national carrier, before May 29, 2023.

The airlines, in a statement on Friday, signed by Obiora Okonkwo, spokesperson of AON, described the move as contemptuous and shadowy.

Two days ago, Sirika announced that an aircraft belonging to Nigeria Air would be delivered on Friday (today), insisting that the national carrier would be operational before his tenure ends.

Prior to this announcement, aviation stakeholders had raised concerns over the ownership stake of the proposed national carrier.

Last year, a federal high court in Lagos prohibited the federal government from selling the shares of Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines, a judgment that ultimately halted the commencement of operations.

But the minister had consistently insisted that the national carrier would fly before the end of the current administration, adding that “nothing would stop it.”

Responding to Sirika’s recent comments on floating Nigeria Air in the statement, the airlines kicked against the plan, adding that such a move “was not in the best interest of the country”.

“All of these statements and actions are in flagrant disobedience of the orders of the federal high court of Nigeria which halted the said moves by the minister to float the said airline until the determination of the substantive suit brought by AON against it,” the statement reads.

“We make bold to respond because of the myriad of inquiries from concerned and patriotic Nigerians and industry stakeholders who have either called or sent messages over the minister’s comments.

“For the avoidance of doubt, AON welcomes the establishment of more airlines in Nigeria for we believe that the skies are big enough to accommodate all. However, AON is against any contraption that is shadowy and not in the best interest of the country.

“We need the outgoing minister to come forward, defend, and counter the very damning submissions in our suit.”

‘Sirika Is Not Above The Law’

The airlines also frowned on the desperate move of the minister to operate the airline despite a court order, uncompleted certification, and a short time before his tenure elapses.

“It is very disturbing that a minister is desperately hoodwinking the entire nation into accepting a massively flawed process just 72 hours to the end of his 7-year tenure in office as minister of aviation even as the courts have halted him,” AON added.

“The aviation minister is aware of the different court orders against him and Nigeria Air. He should be aware that he is courting a charge of contempt of court as he is not above the law and can not freely disregard the courts.

“AON is also aware, like the minister and promoters of Nigeria Air, that the process of acquiring airline operating certificate (AOC) for Nigeria Air is only at stage one contrary to his televised statement that the Nigerian Air AOC process was at stage five.

“The world is watching the regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Nigerian Air and its AOC. The NG Eagles’ AOC is equally a matter for another day.”

The group said the actions and pronouncements of the minister are impugning the integrity of the NCAA and, as such, capable of adversely affecting the ratings of Nigeria’s airlines.

AON also said Sirika cannot order the certification processes by fiat.

“Therefore, an aircraft flying into Nigeria and bearing Nigerian colors does not change anything,” the airlines said.

“Furthermore, the fact that the minister has just a few more days left of his time in office, makes it necessary that promoters of the airline, if they exist, other than Sirika, should be talking to Nigerians, telling them what they ought to know and answering relevant questions about their stakes in Nigeria Air.

“Hadi Sirika knows that until the order is vacated, the Ministry of Aviation cannot proceed with any action toward the airline.”

BIG STORY

UBA Takes Centre Stage At 2024 ECOWAS Mining Forum In Cotonou, Benin As Elumelu Gives Keynote Address

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Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has been announced as the official sponsor of the 4th edition of the ECOWAS Mining and Petroleum Forum (ECOMOF 2024) scheduled to take place at the Palais des Congrès in Cotonou, Benin from February 22 to February 24, 2024.

The regional event is expected to see a large gathering of key players and stakeholders in the mining and petroleum sectors of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and as the financial institution of choice, with presence in 20 African countries and active involvement in major continental development projects, UBA is the preferred partner for the event, underlining the bank’s commitment to the growth of mining and Petroleum industry in the sub-region but to the whole not African economic development.

UBA Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu, would give the keynote address during the opening ceremony of this all-important event.

Elumelu who doubles as Chairman of Transcorp Group, with extensive interests in energy and power, will be speaking on the theme: “Geo-extractive Resources and Technologies: what pooling strategies for Value Creation in West Africa”

His speech is expected to highlight UBA’s increasing effort to support and develop the African continent through strategic investments in the key sectors of mining and petroleum.

Under the esteemed leadership of the President of the Republic of Benin, His Excellency, Patrice Talon, and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and current President of ECOWAS, His Excellency Mr. Bola Tinubu, UBA Group will at the forum aim to restate its commitment towards supporting economic and social development across the continent.

The focus of ECOMOF 2024 underscores the significance of transforming the mining and oil sectors into economic pillars by formulating attractive policies for investors, essential for the sectors’ substantial contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of ECOWAS member states.

The Transnational Corporation Group (Transcorp Plc) – a diversified conglomerate with strategic investments in various sectors, including power and energy – will also actively participate in the forum.

Key officials from UBA Group and Transcorp Plc, including the Chief Executive Officer UBA Africa, Abiola Bawuah; UBA’s Group Head, Corporate and Energy Bank, Ebele Ogbue, and President/ Chief Executive Officer, Transcorp Group, Owen Omogiafo will be actively involved in discussions and panels on the sidelines of the event.

Anticipated to attract over 2,000 participants from diverse sectors, including representatives from mining and oil industries, government officials, international and national investors, industry experts, ECOWAS delegates, and international organizations, ECOMOF 2024 promises to be a significant platform for collaborative dialogue and partnership building.

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees’ group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally. Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.

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JUST IN: FG Working To Reduce Rising Food Prices Inherited From Past Government — Finance Minister Wale Edun

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Wale Edun, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, said that President Bola Tinubu’s administration inherited a surge in food and general commodity prices from the previous government.

He, however emphasized the government’s commitment to reducing food prices and tackling the nation’s high inflation rate.

Speaking at the Public Wealth Management Conference in Abuja on Tuesday, February 20, the finance minister acknowledged the hardships faced by Nigerians and outlined measures taken to alleviate their suffering.

He revealed that, as part of these interventions, the government has released 42,000 metric tons of grains, with an additional 60,000 metric tons scheduled for release soon.

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JUST IN: State Police Bill Passes Second Reading At House Of Representatives

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A bill proposing the establishment state police has passed second reading at the house of representatives.

Sponsored by Benjamin Kalu, deputy speaker of the house, and 14 others, the bill proposes to transfer the term “police” in the 1999 constitution from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list.

The bill, which comprises 18 clauses, seeks to amend sections 34, 35, 39, 42, 84, 89, 129 153, 197, 214, 215 and 216 of the constitution.

 

More to come…

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