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Three Years After Unveiling, FG Fixes April 2022 Take Off Date For Air Nigeria

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Three years after it was unveiled, the Federal Government on Wednesday said Air Nigeria, the proposed national carrier will take off April 2022.

Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika announced the take-off date while briefing state house correspondents after the federal executive council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja.

He said the national carrier will be run by a company in which the Nigerian government will hold a five percent stake while Nigerian entrepreneurs will hold 46 percent.

He said the remaining 49 percent will be reserved for yet to be assigned strategic equity partners, including foreign investors.

Sirika said the national carrier, when operational, will create about 70,000 jobs for Nigerians.

Sirika recalled that over 400,000 Nigerians participated in choosing the name which was launched in 2018.

“Today (Wednesday) in Council civil aviation presented two memoranda. The first one is approval for the award of contract for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, including software support and training, which will be located in Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport

“In summary, this is a software that will allow all of the activities of civil aviation regulation to be done electronically on one platform, including payments, including follow-ups on personnel licensing, the medicals, the economic regulation of airlines, safety regulation of airlines and all other businesses within the envelope of civil aviation will be monitored by this single software.

“It is called ‘the truth machine’ in the quotation in Europe because all of the truth of regulation of civilization will appear on this platform, it’s an extremely important software that the world has now come to terms with.

“The contract was given to Messrs. Arif Investment Nigeria Limited, who are representatives of Empik GmbH. This Empik are the creators of this software, one of its kind in the world, at the sum of N1,492,520,325, which will be including 7.5% VAT and a completion period of six months. So that’s the first memoranda.

“The next one also is approval of the outline business case for the establishment of the national carrier and this is the sixth time the memorandum appeared before Council. The sixth time, we got lucky to be passed by Council.

“The structure of the proposed airline; the government will be owning not more than 5%. So 5% is the maximum equity that government will take, then 46% will be owned by Nigerian entrepreneurs. So, if you add that, it’s 51%. So, it’s 51% majority shareholding by Nigerians and then 49% will be held by strategic equity partners or partners that will be sourced during the procurement phase, which is the next phase.

“This airline, if started, and within the first few years will generate about 70,000 jobs. These 70,000 jobs are higher than the total number of civil servants that we have in the country. Its importance had been well discussed so, I’ll not go back to it. You had discussed it separately also on various fora as to the need for it.

“But one important item is the AU agenda 2063, which speaks to the integration of Africa, which speaks to the cause and trade within Africa that is intra-Africa and to which also another flagship project of AU agenda 2063 called the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

“Now, the only way, the quickest way that you can integrate Africa is by air because if you want to interconnect all the 54 nations of Africa, via rail or road, or waterways, which is even impossible, the quantum of money that you need to do all of these, the time it will take to develop this infrastructure, as well as the maintenance cost, is almost prohibitive.

“It’s doable, it’s time-taking, but with aviation, within a year, once the right policy is in place, like SAATM, you can connect Africa, and then, of course, the needed integration will happen. Part of AU agenda 2063 So, these are the two memoranda that were submitted, and gladly they were passed by Council.

“The name is Nigeria Air which of course, if you remember back in time, this was subject to a national debate and 400,000 people participated, choose the name, the colour, the logo, everything and it was produced that time. It was launched also in Farnborough as far back as 2018.

“So, the business case is a public document. It will be on our website, you can download it and we can give you copies. This airline will pick up and start, by God’s grace, on or before April 2022.”

Asked if the April date is certain, he said: “Well, the best case is that the airline will pick up that period, April 2022 all things being equal. But since it’s an outline of the business we will follow the outline of the business.

“It is our hope and desire that it starts on April. It can be sacrosanct records but it’s dependent upon other factors since we are going to the market right away.”

In 2018, the federal government unveiled Nigeria Air, at the Farnborough International Public Airshow in London.

The federal government later suspended the proposed airline.

Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, had said the project was suspended due to investor apathy.

If successful, the airline will be coming almost 18 years after Africa’s largest economy shut down Nigerian Airways due to perceived corruption and maladministration.

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NDLEA Nabs 60-Yr-Old Grandma, Pregnant Woman, Others Over Illegal Drug [PHOTOS]

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Two women, a 60-year-old grandmother, and a pregnant woman were among those arrested during interdiction operations by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) across five states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in the past week, during which 5,527.15 kilograms of methamphetamine and cannabis sativa, as well as 132,090 tablets of tramadol and 2,000 bottles of codeine were recovered.

A statement on Sunday by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi said the grandma, Mrs. Ibinosun Esther was arrested in Ibadan, Oyo state in a follow-up operation following the seizure of 5.5 kilograms Loud variant of cannabis imported into the country from South Africa.

According to Babafemi, the grandma claimed the consignment, was sent to her by her daughter and concealed in two giant Speakers as part of a consolidated cargo that arrived at the NAHCO import shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos on board an Air Peace Airline flight.

In a related development, NDLEA operatives also on Saturday 26th November intercepted 1.4 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed inside custard tins packed among cosmetics and foodstuffs going to Brazil via Doha on a Qatar Airways flight.

Babafemi said a cargo agent, Salako Omolara who brought the bag containing the illicit drug to the airport, and an intending passenger to Brazil, Anyanwu Christian who was to travel with the consignment were promptly arrested.

He said another attempt by a freight agent, Adebisi Aina to export 3,000 tablets of tramadol concealed in motor spare parts to Banjul, Gambia through the NAHCO export shed was equally thwarted by operatives who seized the consignment and arrested her on Monday 28th November, while a follow-up operation to Ebute-Meta area of Lagos the following day, Tuesday 29th November led to the arrest of the alleged actual owner, Afam Chibuke, who is a spare parts seller.

He noted that this was followed by the seizure of 100,000 tablets of Royal brand of Tramadol 200mg with a gross weight of 68.9 kilograms imported from Karachi, Pakistan on Ethiopian Airlines at the SAHCO import shed.

He disclosed that in Abuja, operatives stormed the warehouse of a notorious drug lord and an ex-convict, Ibrahim Momoh, alias ‘Ibrahim Bendel’ who escaped from prison custody to return to his criminal trade and recovered 81 jumbo bags of cannabis weighing 1,278 kilograms

He said though Though the fleeing drug dealer is still at large and is wanted by the agency, his warehouse keeper, 55-year-old Ghanaian, Richard Forson was arrested.

He noted that Ibrahim Momoh was first arrested on 27th November 2014 with the same substance weighing 385.1 kilograms He subsequently prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on 22nd April 2020 but escaped from jail after three months.

He also disclosed that no fewer than 2,000 bottles of codeine-based syrup were seized in a commercial bus by operatives on Friday 2nd December along Lokoja – Abuja expressway.

In Rivers state, operatives on Saturday arrested a 29-year-old pregnant woman, Kate Ibinabo with 34.4 kilograms  cannabis sativa in Okrika area of the state.

He said the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd), has however directed that she be granted administrative bail pending when she’s delivered of her baby and thereafter return for her prosecution because at the time of her arrest, she’s in her ninth month of pregnancy.

In Ondo state, 241 bags of the psychoactive substance with a gross weight of 3,133 kilogrammes were recovered from a building at Ilale Cashew, Ehinogbe, Owo, last Tuesday; and at least, 507.9 kilogrammes of cannabis were also seized during a raid at the hideout of a fleeing drug dealer in Mushin area of Lagos last Thursday.

In Cross River, 53 jumbo bags of cannabis sativa weighing 567.05 kilogrammes were seized from three suspects: Bassey Boniface, 38; Effiong Akiba, 30 and Ngbong Raymond, 45 at Mpara junction, Odukpani local government area last Thursday while conveying the consignment in a bus marked CKK 74 AA.

Babafemi said operatives equally arrested another suspect, Ali Mohammed along Potiskum- Damaturu road after they found 29,090 tablets of tramadol in his personal Honda car marked ABC 914 RW coming from Gombe to Damaturu, Yobe state.

Meanwhile, while commending the officers and men of the MMIA, Rivers, Ondo, Lagos, Cross River and Yobe commands of the agency for the arrests and seizures, Marwa charged them and their counterparts across other formations to continue to step up their offensives against drug cartels.

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BIG STORY

13% Derivation: I Owe No One Apology For Commending Buhari — Wike

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The executive governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, says he does not owe anyone an apology for commending President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the payment of funds owed to states in the Niger Delta since 1999.

Wike spoke on Saturday during the 2022 Rivers state honours and awards ceremony, in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

On November 18, the Rivers governor had announced that the Buhari-led government paid his state and other Niger Delta states funds owed from the 13 percent derivation fund.

Wike said the funds paid by the federal government have significantly aided his infrastructural strides in the state.

Wike’s comments elicited varied reactions as Nigerians called on other state governors who had received the fund to account for it.

On Friday, the presidency also said nine oil-producing states received a total of N625.43 billion as 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds from the federation account between 2021 and 2022.

The states that benefitted from the derivation refunds include Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.

Wike said he is currently battling “problem” because he appreciated Buhari for approving the refund to the nine oil-producing states.

“Instead of human beings to say they appreciate you, they become envious that why were you appreciated. Because I said Buhari thank you, I’m having problem today,” he said.

“I’m not a fan of Buhari. I told the honourable attorney-general but when a man has done well say he has done well in that area. On the other area, he has not done well, you equally say so.

“I have no apology to anybody. Today, Wike did this and that projects. Look if Buhari did not release the money, from 1999, which my party did not even release, I won’t have done what I did.

“I don’t give a damn to anybody. I don’t care. I got the money. I’m not a fan of Buhari. He has not done well in so many areas but with this payment of money, he did well.

“My friends and party members may not be happy. Make una no vex oo. This one, Buhari did well. He gave me money and I used it to do something for people in Rivers state. The other ones will talk about their own later.”

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BIG STORY

2023: Peter Obi Finally Releases Manifesto, Promises To Move Nigeria From “Consuming To Producing”, Others

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Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), has unveiled his manifesto.

Obi unveiled the 72-page manifesto via his Twitter handle on Sunday.

The manifesto is titled “It’s POssible: Our Pact with Nigerians”.

In the manifesto, the former Anambra governor listed seven priorities his administration would concentrate on if elected president in 2023.

Over the past few days, Obi had come under criticism in some quarters, especially among members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for not having a manifesto.

In October, the LP presidential distanced himself from a manifesto attributed to him.

Obi had said he would personally release the LP manifesto to the public when it is ready.

In the manifesto released on Sunday, the former Anambra governor promised to move Nigeria from a consumption economy to a production-centred economy.

The LP presidential candidate said he would end banditry and insurgency if elected president.

“Restructure the polity through effective legal and institutional reforms to entrench the rule of law, aggressively fight corruption, reduce cost of governance, and establish an honest and efficient civil service,” the manifesto reads.

“Leapfrog Nigeria into the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) through the application of scientific and technological innovations to create a digital economy.

“Build expansive and world-class infrastructure for efficient powers supply, rail, road and air transportation, and pipeline network, through integrated public-private partnerships, and entrepreneurial public sector governance.

“Enhance the human capital of Nigerian youths for productivity and global competitiveness through investment in world-class scholarship and research, quality healthcare, and entrepreneurship education.

“Conduct an afro-centric diplomacy that protects the rights of Nigerian citizens abroad and advances the economic interests of Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in a changing world.”

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