By Ifeatu Agbu
It is a well known fact that the process of contract award both in the public and private sectors in Nigeria, leaves much to be desired. It has not only entrenched corruption in the system, but has also contributed immeasurably to the underdevelopment of our country. This leads to unquantifiable wastages and delays, as well as loss of confidence in Nigeria by foreign and even local investors. This ugly scenario may have spurred the Federal Government to introduce reforms to ensure a more effective system of awarding contracts and monitoring their execution. This included the passage of the Bureau for Public Procurement [BPP] Act 2007, which institutionalised due process and transparency in contract awards and executions.
Recently, the Minister of Works, Senator Sanusi Daggash, told contractors handling the Kaduna Eastern Bye-pass that “enough is enough.” He was obviously appalled by the slow pace of work on the 58.8 kilometre road, which was started in 2002 and was to be completed in 2005. Since then, the contractor had continued to ask for one extension after another. The Minister just could not continue to stomach the rot in the system. So he warned that no contractor would be allowed to take Nigeria for granted through incessant delays and extension of completion dates. He also stated that the era of impunity and lackadaisical performance in contract execution was over.
This is not the first time top government officials would be expressing disgust over the dubious attitude of many contractors and threatening to take tough measures to curb their excesses. Even then, nothing seems to have changed over the years. One can only hope that the new administration of President Goodluck Jonathan would be able to make a substantial difference in this aspect. Without doubt, the eagerness of successive administrations to propel the engine of growth in the country is being hampered by some contractors who have no respect for contract specifications and deadlines. They have, therefore. constituted themselves into stumbling blocks to activities of governments and their agencies in the development process of this country. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
This unfortunate situation is also contributing to the underdevelopment of critical flash-points like the Niger Delta region. Today, a lot of projects embarked upon by the three tiers of government and their agencies in the region are in comatose because of the nefarious activities of some self-serving contractors, who divert funds meant for projects to their pockets.
From all indications, a good number of these contractors lack discipline and the sense of patriotism, as well as professional skills required to execute contracts given to them. Greed and avarice motivate some of them; as they see their contracts as an opportunity to get their own share of the "national cake." Hence, they cut corners; use inferior materials and unqualified or inexperienced personnel and end up delivering shoddy jobs. They also take joy in displaying their ill-gotten wealth in an offensive manner by living ostentatious life.
Take the case of the Independent Power Projects initiated by the Obasanjo administration, and consider the shocking revelations that greeted members of the House Committee on Power and Steel when they toured the project sites. There were reports of contractors who had been paid billions of naira as mobilization fees but never bothered to reach the sites let alone starting work. Some of those who managed to get to the sites demonstrated a lackadaisical attitude in the execution of the projects. For instance, the committee was told that the Federal Government overpaid one of the contractors, Marubeni Nigeria Limited, by N224 million for the Calabar 561mw GT power station. In spite of this, Marubeni was said to have completed only 30 per cent of the civil works while the project was already eight months behind schedule.
The Obasanjo-led government spent a whopping $16billion on the energy sector between 1999 and 2007, with little or no improvement in power supply. The Ndidi Elumelu-led House Committee discovered sharp disparities in the level of work done by contractors and the payment made to them by the government. At long last, some members of the committee were accused of being sucked into the cesspool of corruption, thereby rendering useless the effort of the House to re-activate the ailing power sector. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria
Sometimes, it would appear that the government fails to thoroughly screen contractors to ascertain their suitability and capability to execute projects awarded to them. As it is the practice world-wide, governments and their agencies should also determine whether contractors possess the requisite qualifications, have the relevant experience, manpower, equipment and monetary resources to successfully execute projects. And whether they also pass integrity and reliability tests, which many Nigerian contractors would fail woefully. Many contractors without the above qualifications win big jobs by short-changing the system which unfortunately disregards due process for selfish reasons.
Again, it should be made clear to all contractors at the outset that project abandonment would lead to permanent exclusion from bidding for future contracts, in addition to their refund of mobilization fees with appropriate interest. We seem to have a situation where a contractor could easily abandon a project and just walk away without serious repercussions. The Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, was quoted recently as saying that henceforth, non-performing contractors would be blacklisted. One wonders why that has not been the practice over the years. If there are no strict sanctions, contractors and their official collaborators would continue to be the clog in the country’s march to sustainable development.
The negative attitude of the contractors, which may have been a carry-over from the long years of military dictatorship, when there was abominable permissiveness in the country, cannot be allowed to continue. It is a challenge which must be confronted resolutely to pave way for the rapid development of our nation. One of the development agencies that is making appreciable efforts to whip erring contractors into line, is the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. The Managing Director of the commission, Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha, made it clear to consultants and contractors working for the commission that nothing short of the best would do. He satd: “A poorly executed contract or project is wastage of scarce resources,” adding that it was counter-productive to developmental efforts. He said that the commission would no longer accept poorly executed projects and warned that contractors and consultants involved in such projects would be sanctioned.
Giving teeth to Ugwoha’s warning, the NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Arc. Esoetok Ikpong Etteh, recently came down hard on contractors handling four different road projects of over 98 kilometres in Ohaji Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas of Imo State. At one of the road construction sites, where the contractor was apparently cutting corners, he ordered: “Stop work until you have done the right thing.”
He said the commission would hold consultants responsible for any shoddy job by contractors and directed all consultants attached to the various road projects to move to site for effective supervision and monitoring of the contractors to ensure that jobs are executed to specifications. Indeed, that is how it should be in all aspects of our national life, if we are to realise our development dreams as a nation. The National Assembly can contribute immensely in this area by taking its oversight functions more seriously. It must stop the situation where due process in contract awards seems to be observed more in the breach through all kinds of manipulations.
Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*Tags: Nigerians, Niger Delta, Abuja, Lagos, Poor, Contract, Execution, Jobs, Africa, Masterweb
By Kali Gwegwe
Corruption has been identified as the mountain standing between Nigeria and her Promised Land. The prevalence of corruption has greatly discouraged the inflow of foreign investments into the country. This is indeed a serious problem when viewed against the backdrop of the current economic order. It is necessary for our fiscal policy formulators and advisers to understand that Nigeria can only benefit from the culture of free market economy when the nation is able to win the confidence of the global business community. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s corruption and fraud index are still very high. This has discouraged many foreign corporations and institutions from trusting Nigerian citizens and investing in the country.
The bulk of whatever we still have as foreign investments in the country is tied strictly to the oil industry. Foreign investors still have some confidence in Nigeria’s petroleum sector because of its peculiar nature. In Nigeria, crude oil production and marketing is such that foreign investors have undue advantage over the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), mostly because of the nation’s poor technological state. This has afforded the joint venture partners the opportunity to dictate terms and conditions of joint venture activities. It is in this light that the local content policy of the federal government is most welcome. If properly monitored, Nigeria will save billions of dollars spent annually on the fabrication, installation, and maintenance of oil industry utilities.
It is for all these reasons that the federal government has channeled huge material and human resources towards fighting corruption, especially in the last ten years. Nevertheless, it would not be out of place to argue that not much have been achieved when viewed against the backdrop of the number of high profile corruption cases being unearthed daily by the nation’s anti-graft agencies. This sad development is enough reason for government to rejig the nation’s anti-graft protocol. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria
To a very large extent, current anti-corruption efforts are focused mainly on investigation, prosecution, and punishment of convicted offenders. Even at that, the logic surrounding punishment of persons convicted for corruption is faulty. There is no justification for giving equal punishment to persons that embezzled different amounts of money. Take the case of two men- one embezzled N10m and the other, N10b but were all sentenced to two year prison term. Apart from prescribing long prison terms (minimum of ten years), every N1m of illegally acquired money should attract additional 1 year prison term. Through this, the weight of punishment can make some meaning. The current system where someone will embezzle up to N10b and serve a mere two year jail term is an insult on the sensibilities of poor Nigerians. If given the opportunity, many poor Nigerians would be too willing to collect N10m and spend three years in prison in order to escape poverty.
Nigeria’s current anti-graft campaign can be likened to pursuing a policy of cure, as against that of prevention. Government should consider legislations that will encourage citizens to live within their income. This should be done putting in place legislation that will compel citizens to disclose sources of income to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before acquiring properties or investing up to N5m and above. Whoever that fails to do so should be punished with a one year jail term and also forfeit the said property or investment to the applicable tier of government where the source of illegal money is traced to. Apart from discouraging corruption, the work of the various security and anti-graft agencies will be made easier and more efficient.
Nevertheless, government must have to tackle the problems of poverty in the country. Ordinarily, Nigeria is too endowed to experience problems of poverty. The inability of government to fight corruption and distribute national wealth evenly is the fundamental causes of poverty in the country. National wealth can be distributed evenly by strengthening of the nation’s socio-economic framework. To achieve this, the organized private sector will have to be energized to stimulate rapid economic growth. This would require stable power, effective transport infrastructure, friendly tax regime, and access to long term credit facilities among others.
Furthermore, government must also diversify the economy by encouraging the agro-allied and solid minerals sectors. Apart from contributing to the nation’s foreign exchange earnings, millions of high-paying jobs will be created. Clearly, unemployment is a major source of poverty, malnutrition, crime, and insecurity in Nigeria. ( Continues below….. )
There is no doubt that over 80% of Nigerian workers in both the public and private sectors cannot rely on their salaries for the feeding, housing, transportation, health care, and educational needs of their families. Like the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), affordable premiums can be set to enable Nigerian workers and their family access quality health care services, quality education to university level, and ability to own houses commensurate with their income. Of what necessity is work if one cannot rely on his income to take care of the basic needs of life?
Nigerians should not allow themselves to be deceived by charges of “political witch-hunting” leveled against the presidency by highly placed citizens facing corruption charges. Are we saying, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) should not investigate and charge to court those sharing different political opinion with the president even when there are enough evidences to do so? This is not the best way to fight corruption. Until they are convicted in a recognized law court, such persons remain innocent. They should therefore submit themselves for trial and sue government for damages if they are eventually acquitted.
My sympathy for these highly placed Nigerians accused of corruption is tied to their proof that they do not have confidence in the judiciary. From all indications, the Nigerian judiciary can be entrusted with the freedom of the innocent and punishment of the guilty. Let us join hands and make corruption unpopular in Nigeria.
Kali Gwegwe writes from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and can be reached at email@example.com ( 0806 407 4810 )
*Tags: Nigerians, Anti, Corruption, Protocol, Africans, Goodluck, Jonathan, Political, Politics, Leadership, Masterweb
By Lateef Lawal
The Assistant Secretary-General of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Alhaji Muhammed Tukur has said that for a long time, the association warned about “the parlous state of our airports in Nigeria”. Tukur who spoke last week in Lagos on the heels of public outcry on the recent power outage at the Lagos airport said: “We had mentioned that these airports are serious embarrassment to our nation. We have wondered many times whether we are really serious about improving aviation.”
In his words: “Last week, an unbelievable embarrassment happened in Nigeria. There was loss of electricity at Nigeria’s premier Airport, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport for three hours. Air travel was completely halted for this period of time. This scandal is simply unacceptable. It is obvious to all discerning Nigerians that the Murtala Muhammed International Airport has failed. It is over crowded and poorly managed.” ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.
Tukur urged the Federal Government to quickly move in decongesting the terminal by allowing Nigerian airlines on West coast operations move to the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2(MMA2) terminal to reduce pains as clamoured by operators who fly to the west coast. Aero, Virgin Nigeria and Arik are the three Nigerian airlines operating strongly on the west coast route, as they seem to have dominated the route after the demise of Air Afrique some few years ago. Already, Aerocontractors had written the authority seeking the movement of its West Coast operations to domestic terminal 1 of the Lagos airport as temporary measure to assuage the sufferings of her passengers.
The AON scribe however noted that for FAAN to function efficiently, all debts owed the authority by airlines, users of the authority’s facilities, must be reconciled. He lamented the huge debt owed the agency by airlines and concessionaires, adding that without payment, FAAN or any other agency would not be able to deliver the required service. Saying that Murtala Mohammed International Airport, cannot continue to embarrass the country, he appealed for the implementation of programs that would provide better facilities for travelers and users of airports in the country. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, Imo State.
Airline operators had last week hinted of their move to prevail on the Minister of Aviation, Fidelia Njeze to move their operations to MMA2, citing uncertainty over the epileptic power supply at the international airport terminal that crippled operations for days. According to Tukur, “The only logical thing to do is to decongest the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, by moving the traffic to MMA2. This must be done immediately to redeem the image our country.” The Senate had on Thursday last week ordered its committee on Aviation to investigate the power outages that had adversely affected activities at the airport on Sunday and Monday last week.
The Senate, through a motion brought before it by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Anyim Ude, and eight others, noted with sadness the incident, which resulted in a four-hour total blackout at the departure and arrival halls of the terminal building. Instead of ruling on the prayers contained in the motion, it urged the committee to embark on an investigation, with a view to obtaining all the facts of the matter and present its report within the next three weeks.
Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)
*Tags: Nigerians, West, Coast, Operations, FAAN, Airlines, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
By Olugu Ukpai
It is a particular vaulting ambition, desperation for power, arrogance, lack of morality and a slap on the face that makes IBB to assume that he can employ all forms of gimmicks to deceive and manipulate the 150 million intelligent Nigerians into supporting his 2011 presidential ambition. Having recently failed to hide under the Umbrella of “one man one vote” rally organized in Benin City by Edo State’s Governor, Adams Oshiomole, IBB has not thrown in the towel.
Saturday Tribune of May 15 2010 reports that IBB “has commissioned research into Nigeria’s socio- political problems... the ‘Think Tank’ composed of some of his loyalists based in Europe and the Americas to carry out the research”. According to the Saturday Tribune, the commission was charged among others to explore “international solutions to Nigeria’s problems” towards “electricity and power supply, eradication of poverty and unemployment, 419 activities and criminality as well as infrastructural development”. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd.)
While acknowledging that by law, as a Nigerian citizen and by his constitutional rights, IBB has the right to contest lections and to proffer solutions to Nigerian problems, though, but before he could have the moral standing to do that, IBB has the burden to answer the following questions: First, what does it mean in personal and political terms when an alleged leader of armed robbers commissions his boys to proffer solution to their robbery escapade? Second, what does it mean when the tools of IBB are being used to examine the fruits, legacies of that same IBB’s administration? For it was during his eight year reign that plunged Nigeria into all manner of “419” and enthroned “criminality” up to the present time? It means that only the narrowest perimeters of change are possible and allowable if IBB succeed in becoming the next Nigerian president in 2011. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Seal of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the official symbol of the Nigerian President, first used in 1979 by President Shehu Shagari.
However, while wishing his commission best of luck, I will not hesitate to add one or two more agenda to them, probably of which IBB couldn’t see because of oversight: First, to find out the killers of Dele Diwa, Mama Vasta & colleagues to millions of Nigerian that lost their lives in defending their mandate, in defending their vote, in what they believed was the freest and fairest election in Nigeria, and Second, why IBB failed to testify before the Human Rights Panel about Dele Giwa’s murder. It pains me most that Dele Giwa “was killed via a bomb with a parcel bearing the coat of arms of the Nigerian state.” Third to investigate and report what happened to the excess profit that accrued from the oil windfall of the 80s. Fourth, in the best interest of the commission and in order to submit a comprehensive report that would be well “maradonad”, the commission should wait to hear the decision of the Court with reference to the pending suit filed against IBB by the late legal luminary, Gani Fawehimi. Until then, “The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House”. Of course, owners of CON are conmen.
*Olugu Ukpai, a Ph.D student, School of Law, University of Reading, sent in this article from UK, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Tags: Nigerians, Ibb, Ibrahim, Badamasi, Babangida, Africans, Leaders, Masterweb
By Lateef Lawal
Not much was before now heard of Spaceworld International Airline since it went out of operation in late 2008. However, in an encounter with the Managing Director of the airline, Mr Steven Adekunle last two weekends, we were able to unravel the precarious circumstances in which the airline found itself, especially the falling into the snares of a Nigerian –cum-American fraudster and other industry related issues. The interview was conducted by Lateef Lawal. Read and you will be amazed: Question: What really led to the grounding of the operations of Spaceworld International Airline?
Adekunle: First, it was due to the Federal Government policy of re-capitalization of airlines. After taking our aircraft to Saudi Arabia for C-Check and on our return to Nigeria, the then government of the day said all airlines must re-capitalize from N20million to N500million share capital for local operations and international N1billion. And when we came back, the domestic market was not good enough, it was so dull due to the previous crashes experienced by some domestic airlines –Bellview, ADC and Sosoliso. Secondly, when the then president Olusegun Obasanjo called all the airline operators to Abuja and pronounced that the only airlines that were fit then to be flying were Virgin Nigeria and Aerocontractors.
That singular pronouncement really affected all other operators especially those of us that came into the business newly coupled with fear of flying by passengers as majority of them preferred to travel by road following the crashes of the airlines. Coupled with the re-capitalization, our chairman then said he was the business was not profitable as passengers patronage was very low .He therefore said in the circumstance we found ourselves, it was better to sell the company than to re-capitalize in a non-profitable market. Then, we leased our aircraft to Capital Airlines. But we had another problems. That problem was that in 2003 Airworthiness Directives(AD) caught up with one of our aircraft engines. On the basis of that, we made an arrangement to procure an engine. We got in touch with an American, one Captain Jim. When, he was coming to us to negotiate the procurement of the engine, he brought one Nigerian from Abuja. His name is Engineer Yakubu Dazhia. Jim said Dazhia was his contact man in Nigeria.
Dazhia made us to believe that was the owner of the company in America. He said we should make available $460,000 as the cost for one engine. We consequently make available to Dazhia $460,000. After paying the said amount, we thought the engine would be brought to us within a week or two at most, but one month of waiting rolled over to two years since February, 2008 and up till date, we are yet to take delivery of the engine from Dazhia. After paying the money, this man did not show up from February till August, 2008. We later got him on phone. He told me that he was not in the country and that he was in the United States of America(USA) for an eye surgery and I told him that since that was the place the engine was to be procured, "O.K let me come down to meet you". He said I should come and he gave me his contact phone number in America. On getting there, I put a call through to him, this man refused to pick my call.
Meanwhile, I did not have any other contact there except that of his accomplice-Captain Jim who I was able to locate in August, 2008 who revealed to me that Engineer Yakubu Dazhia did not pay a dime to him for the engine procurement. Then, Captain Jim said if I can provide another $140,000, he would get me an engine. Again, I gave him the money in addition to another $50,000. Upon all, no engine was provided and neither was a refund made. In fact, this was the height of our problems and the consequent suspension of our operations in 2008. My Chairman was unhappy with the development and he said we should opt out of the airline business. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Nigerian Naira Notes
Question: Did you report the case to NCAA, Police or EFCC? Adekunle: We were unable to report the matter to NCAA or the EFCC then because Captain Jim was promising getting us an engine. Jim and Dazhia were business partners and we had earlier believed Jim. We only reported the case of recent to people that matter, when we were not hearing from Dazhia. On 24 December, 2009 somebody took me to where Dazhia resides in Abuja. When I got him precisely on the 5th of January, 2010, he was shocked and he told me I should not bother as the matter would be settled in America. Then, I said okay, "when are we going to have the meeting in America?" He told me it was going to be on 23 January, 2010. Later I bought ticket and flew to America.
When we got to America, instead of Dazhia taking me to meet Captain Jim to resolve the issue, he took me to one Dr Steve Onoja who is a Bishop of a big Pentecostal church in America. He took me there knowing that I am a Christian and that taking such a religious avenue could assist in settling the matter in a Christian way. I agreed with him. On getting to the Bishop, Onoja mediated and I told him that we don’t need the engine again and that he-Dazhia should refund the money. When we got back to Nigeria, Dazhia refused to call me and if I called, he would not respond. Then, since we went religious to solve the matter in America and yet the man refused to refund and we later learnt that he is a member of the popular Winners Chapel, in Ota, Ogun State, and that he is even a Deacon in the church in addition to been an aircraft engineer to the head of the church, Bishop David Oyedepo, we wrote an SOS to the Bishop through an e-mail but there was no response until last Monday, May 4, when one of my brothers took me to the second in-command to Bishop Oyedepo, Bishop Abioye in Abuja.
The Bishop confirmed that Dazhia is a member of the church and said the church would intervene to resolve the matter by locating Dazhia and help us in retrieving our money. Since then we have been waiting and I sincerely belief its better to turn to God and the people of God in resolving this matter. So, in a nutshell, we are looking up to Bishops Oyedepo and Abioye to assist us in recovering our money from Engineer Yakubu Dazhia.
Question: What plans do you have to re-float the airline? Adekunle: Since the chairman was tired of the on-going tribulations, he has mandated me on what to do and my plan is that I don’t want SpaceWorld airline to die. I sincerely want it to start flying again because we have invested a lot of money in the project. We still have our two aircraft on ground in Lagos and they are one of the best of the Boeing 727-200s with Pratt and Whitney-17 engines. Now we are planning to raise money and we have got an investor and we hope in the next six months we should be up in the air again. We fixed six months because of the long process of re-certification to be carried out by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA). You should note that NCAA didn’t ground us, we stopped operations on our volition due to the aforementioned problems.
Question: Will your planned re-entry not end up like the unending promises of OKADA AIRLINE’s planned re-entry? Adekunle: We suspended operations two years ago and we have been doing our underground planning. That is why we have not been talking publicly. Our plans and promise to be afloat again in the next six months wouldn’t be like the case of the defunct OKADA Air. We already have green light on ours, that is why I am talking with you. If not, I would not have obliged your request for this interview. By the special Grace of God we are going to come life and better packaged. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: An Airborne Plane
Question: Problems be-devilling the industry and possible solutions? Adekunle: Our naira is greatly devalued. We use N150 to buy $1 today. It is bad for the industry. Our operations are dollar based. We use dollar to do almost everything in the industry. We spend dollar to train our crew, we use same foreign currency when pilots go for their simulator because none is available in the country. There is no simulator company in Nigeria. We either go to Belgium, US or other European countries. For C and D checks maintenance of aircraft, there is no company that can do them here, we have to fly our planes abroad. In our own case we flew ours to Saudi Arabia which cost us then not less than $750,000 for one aircraft. When you also procure spare parts, its costly. Then the cost of aviation fuel here is on the high side.
So, most airlines find it very difficult to make ends meet. If we can have functional refineries in Nigeria to produce aviation fuel, it will automatically bring down the cost of importation and sale of Jet-A1 to airlines. Again, if Nigerian government can attract maintenance companies from Europe and America to establish their subsidiaries here, it will also assist the airlines in greatly cutting costs of operations and invariably leading to reduced air fares. The nearest maintenance facility in Africa is Ethiopia and is also costly not to talk of the struggle to get a slot. Another problem is prohibitive charges such as Terminal Navigation Charges. If it can be reduced, it will help airlines a lot.
During the Nigeria Airways era, the airline was wholly owned by the Federal Government and it had full governmental support unlike private airlines nowadays. Since government has totally disengaged from airline business leaving it in the private hands, airlines today are not enjoying what Nigeria Airways was enjoying then. Apart from that, the economy then was good. But today, the economic environment is not favourable.
Question: What was Nigeria Airways enjoying then that private airlines are not? Adekunle: Take the issue of Bilateral Air Service Agreement(BASA) which the national carrier then had unfettered access to and the right to fly to all the countries that signed agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria. Nigeria Airways then was the custodian of all the BASAs. But private airlines today do not have such freedom. Secondly, government was dolling out financial support to Nigeria Airways then without collateral to sustain the airline, but today private airlines don’t have such. To even obtain loan from banks is herculean.
Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)
*Tags: Nigerians, Winners, Chapel, Spaceworld, Airlines, Aviation, Finance, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
By Lateef Lawal
The Chairman of Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited(SAHCOL), Dr.Taiwo Afolabi says that Sifax Group the excellent service delivery for which the group is known in the Maritime Sector, will be replicated in the ground handling sector of the country's aviation industry.
He gave the assurance during the opening of a two-day Management retreat, which is part of the ongoing restructuring of the company after its recent privatization and eventual hand over to the Sifax Group. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: SAHCOL ground handling equipments
The retreat with the theme “Changing today for a better tomorrow” clearly encompassed the provision of excellent customer experience and was held at Excellence Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. Dr. Afolabi pledged the total support of the Board in ensuring that the company performed optimally to the satisfaction of the customer and benefits of all stakeholders in the sector.
The Chairman also disclosed that the retreat was part of series of manpower development program lined up for various categories of staff, which included managers, supervisors, technical and operational staff. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: An Airborne Plane
Present at the retreat was the Chief Operating Officer(COO), Isaac Ororugbagbe, and Head of Units, Departments, Divisions and Station Managers from SAHCOL network. Keynote speakers at the event were Dr. Alo Oladimeji, President, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), and Ejine Nzeribe, former General Manager, FedEx Express as well as Head, Customer Care/Call centre of Zain, Nigeria.
SAHCOL is a member of the Sifax Group, specializing in the provision of efficient and speedy cargo, ramp and passenger handling services in the aviation sector.
Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)
*Tags: Nigerians, SAHCOL, Airlines, Aviation, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
By Lateef Lawal
Inadequate finance is the major obstacle hampering Nigeria Airspace Management Agency(NAMA) from actualizing its set objective of becoming a world class Air Navigation Service Provider(ANSP). This was the position of the Managing Director of NAMA, Alhaji Ibrahim Auyo when he received members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) technical team who visited the agency’s headquarters in Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Nigerian Naira Notes
Auyo highlighted to the visiting team some projects that the agency had embarked upon, such as the World Geodetic Survey(WGS-84) which will bring about performance based navigation aimed at cutting cost for airlines.
Another of the priority projects of the agency, according to Auyo is the Automation of the Aeronautical Information Service(AIS), the Total Radio Coverage of Nigeria and the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria(TRACON) which is about to be completed. ( Continues below….. )
The world Bank team which came into the country on May 1st, 2010 was in the country to perform mandatory audit of NAMA, as part of the institutional reform engagement. The leader of the team, William Fullertin said the team was also in Nigeria to ascertain the priority areas of the agency and narrow them for effective execution.
Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)
*Tags: Nigerians, NAMA, Airlines, Aviation, Finance, Objectives, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
By Lateef Lawal
The Minister of Aviation, Mrs Fidelia Njeze has intervened in the face-off between Aerocontractors and Oceanic Bank Plc over the $200m loan re-payment. As a result of the intervention, both parties have tentatively agreed to find an amicable solution to the lingering crisis which has threatened the smooth operations of the airline while the Minister enjoined them to enter into an agreement on the loan re-payment within one week.
Aero and Oceanic Bank were told to report back to Abuja on Friday, May 7, by the minister for the finalization of the tripartite agreement with the minister. The elated Chief Executive Officer of Aero, Shaf Syed in a statement said: “Aero will continue to serve her customers by operating safely and on time to her destinations and always at a reasonable price.
“We are doing all possible to resume our full schedule. In conjunction with this, Aero has resumed its operations in support of the Oil and Gas with the full cooperation of CHC.
“We thank the Honourable Minister of Aviation for assisting to arbitrate in this matter.” ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: An Aerocontractors Plane
On Thursday, April 29, 2010, it was reported that trade unions and associations in the aviation industry sent a ‘save our soul’ alert to the Minister of Aviation, Mrs Fidelia Njeze to prevail on the management of Oceanic Bank Plc to give Aerocontractors airline a soft landing in the servicing of the $200n million loan.
In addition, the workers’ front also noted that if the airline is allowed to stop operations due to the squeezing by Oceanic Bank on debt re-payment, many workers and professionals would be thrown into the growing unemployment market and the bank would not get paid at the end of the day. They argued that it is only when Aero is operating that it will make money to service the debt.
The unions who pleaded with the minister were the National Union of Air Transport Employees(NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers(NAAPE).
Speaking on behalf of the leadership of the three bodies, the General Secretary of NUATE, Comrade Gideon Ogbuji said the controversies recently generated between both parties were not in the interest of the industry and were against business partners relationship. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: An Airborne Plane
He said on more than two occasions recently, flight operations of Aero were disrupted due to the freeze of the airline’s account by the bank which led to lack of fund for its operations, especially charter flights for oil companies in which the airline had to be penalized by paying $36,000 for breach of contract on each of the flight so canceled.
He said, it would be a big blow for the industry if Aero which had successfully operated in Nigeria for the past 50 years was allowed to go down, adding that this was why all the labour unions/associations were pleading with Oceanic Bank to be softer with the airline, by agreeing on an elongated re-payment schedule as against the tight corner in which it has forced it.
Monday, April 26, 2010, it was reported that Aero was locked in discussions with its bankers for some months now and it has now reached a point where it is difficult for Aero to operate on these terms.
The dilemma centers on the allocation of historical debt. The management teams at Oceanic Bank and Aero have been in constant dialogue about this matter for the previous six months. They have been unable to agree on a resolution that will allow Aero to continue trading as a going concern.
Regrettably, Oceanic took unilateral decisions on the morning of Friday, April 23, 2010, which have effectively prevented Aero from paying her suppliers and lessors [including Canadian Helicopter Company (CHC)].
Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)
*Tags: Nigerians, Aerocontractors, Airlines, Aviation, Oceanic, Bank, Minister, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
By Kola Alapinni
'Power tends to corrupt; absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely'. That was what eminent Professor of Jurisprudence Isaac Oluwole Agbede taught us some years back in Ibadan. His position is a slight alteration but a sharp deviation from the popular saying that 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely'. Agbede's example of an exception to the rule is the great man Nelson Mandela. I need not go into further details on our man Nelson. The fact speaks for itself.
How great a lesson one has learnt in the events of the last six months or so in our very interesting country, Nigeria? The facts were very straight forward. Our late President was sick. Nothing is new in that. In fact it wasn't the first time he was sick. He had been perennially ill from when he was the Governor of Katsina State and he preferred to seek medical treatment abroad. His last sojourn however took a different twist; he stayed outside for longer than expected. One spoilt brat tried to blow up a plane in the US and then all hell broke loose. Schemes and plots and cabals emerged. Various agenda both hidden and blatant were tabled, discussed and conjured. Alas! The great man himself was oblivious of happenings around him. There was nobody to sign neither the budget nor anyone to put the US in their place as we were being bashed all over the international media. All sorts of rubbish got flung at Nigeria. Then when it became obvious that Nigeria's listing ship might not survive the brouhaha, and painfully we had to appoint a new helmsman to steer us to safety, his wife packaged the poor old man and flew him in like a DHL parcel in the dead of the night. She did this with the help of the security chiefs right under the nose of the 'new Commander-In-Chief' and he never knew! ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Nigeria's Ex-First Lady Hajiya Turai Yar'Adua
Under different circumstances, could there have been a few traits in this woman that might have been a virtue? I leave you to conclude. Did she want her husband to be in power for the good of our country? No. She wanted him in power but it was for her own sake. A friend's sister said Nigeria underestimated her because of her 'kunu-seller' looks. Quiet, seemingly harmless, seen but not heard. She once again confirms what they say about the quiet ones. Still waters run deep. There must be some hunger for power in a woman that allows two of her daughters to be subsequent wives to serving Governors. It seems as if she was trying to build an alternative political dynasty to that which the late Sheu Yar'Adua had laid down in Katsina. And why was she trying to undermine the office and powers of the Acting President and Commander-In-Chief? If I were to have had access to Mrs. Yar'Adua, I would have advised her differently. As soon as things were going upside down in Saudi Arabia and the whole country was going restive in Nigeria she ought to have brought her husband back home and gone to the Vice-President. All she had to say was 'Oga, your brother no well o! I don't know if he will survive this sickness.' What do we do? He can't sign the letter to transmit power to you, because he is not conscious. He cannot recognise anybody.’ I am sure the 'brotherly Nigerian spirit' in Goodluck Jonathan would have awakened and he would have known how to resolve the situation better.
For one, our late President could have had the best medical care in our country. The University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan is unrivalled in medical expertise and excellence. An intensive care unit could have been equipped to the highest standard in the world for Yar'Adua over there. Even the National Hospital Abuja would have benefitted if the late gentleman had been hospitalised there. There would have been no stalemate in the polity with all manner of legal interpretation coming out from all persons of various shades and hue. But can we blame them? The Attorney-General of the Federation had compromised his position has the foremost legal brain of the executive. His every utterance seemed desired to frustrate the voice of reason and to thwart the natural progression of due process which would have allowed the erstwhile Vice-President to step in and breathe life into a Nigeria that was dying slowly. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria New President pays condolence visit to Yar'Adua's family on the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua.
Secondly, she would not have been the object of so much ridicule, hatred and division in the extended Yar'Adua family and the nation as a whole. If what we read in the papers is true, tell me, what kind of a wife keeps her husband’s mother away from seeing her son until a few days before 'he died'? What was Mrs. Yar'Adua's aim when she summoned some Alfas and Reverends to the Presidential Lodge yet the Acting President nor the Senate President could see him? What was this woman playing at? You can imagine how the country looked before the international community when Goodluck Jonathan had to disclose to Christiane Amanpour of the CNN that neither he nor senior government officials had been able to see the poor man. I think after that US trip, Turai herself must have weighed her options and finally realised that the game was up. It was time to put off the life support machine. The implication of soldiering on would be that either she liked it or not, as the country prepared for the forthcoming elections of 2011 she would have had a serious time-bomb ready to blow off right on her laps. She would have had to surrender the man to the nation and to the political party as hale and hearty for them to secure another term in Aso Rock. She couldn't have expected Goodluck Jonathan to have continued to be running mate nor campaign nationwide for a man he had not seen. In fact there can be no campaign because the man as we heard had become mentally and physically incapacitated. Or she would have had to vacate the Presidential quarters with the problem of how to care for the man on her hands. Where would she hide him that would be as comfortable or secure as the Villa? Certainly not in Funtua! And how long would she be able to defy the Yar'Adua family from seeing their son or his other political associates when she is no longer able to use the Brigade of Guards to cordon everyone off?
Therein lays the irony in the folly of the so called 'power of a woman'. The power can only be exercised with joy and peace of mind when it is used to nurture and bear good fruits. The power that builds bridges and consolidates relationships is the one that is desirable. Not the power that destroys the home or the nation. Of what use is the power of this woman, when death the ultimate leveller of all fate and destiny rendered her powerless. Not because she was the one who died, but that the very man whom she 'abused' in her position as his spouse was granted eternal rest by his creator. Turai subjected our late President to torture and degrading treatment. It was a perfect example of man's (in this case woman’s) inhumanity to his fellow man. Of what use is the power of a woman when she will not allow the poor man to die with dignity? Of what use is the power of a woman when all she tried to do was knock heads together, destabilise the security of the nation and she was still out-witted? Nigerians through our representatives decided that it was a 'necessity' for us to have a leader who was active, energetic and alert. The power of a woman eventually bowed down to the 'doctrine of necessity'. Shikena!
Electoral/Political Reforms - On a slightly different note, I read with dismay last Wednesday in the Guardian newspaper that the National Assembly have refused to endorse Option A4 and a biometric/electronic system of voting. This is why we make a laughing stock of ourselves as a nation everywhere we go in the world. We shy away from addressing change fundamentally. What have the Representatives, Senators; Governors et cetera got to lose if the issue of making electoral votes count is addressed? Yes, the majority of them tend to lose their seat because rigging of votes will become a thing of the past. And if an elected person does not perform creditably in one dispensation, he can truly be booted out by the voters the next elections. It is a shame and irony to see Nigerian professionals set wonderful precedents in politics, law, and medicine, peacekeeping and other fields abroad but at home we are in shambles.
Rest in Peace Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. You have done your bit and left us to it. Sleep well brother, you deserve to rest.
Kola Alapinni is an International Human Rights Lawyer and writes from Birmingham, U.K.
*Tags: Nigerians, Turai, Ya'Adua, Goodluck, Kunu, Seller, Africa, Masterweb
By Lateef Lawal
(Press Center, Presidential Lounge, MMIA,Lagos) - There has been a thaw in the frosty relationship between the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency(NAMA) and members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria(AON) as the latter began the payment of several millions of Naira owed the Agency last week.
In addition, some of the airlines that had hitherto refused to honour invitations by the Agency for account reconciliation have also met with the management of the air navigation service provider to find amicable resolution to their debt settlement.
Top on the list of airlines that embraced the peaceful resolution of the lingering debt crisis, according to investigation by NigerianAviationNews, is Arik Air which reportedly paid N50 million as part payment with a promise to settle the remaining balance based on the schedule payment plan agreed on by both parties. ( Continues below..... )
To this end, the Chairman of Arik Air, Sir Arumemi J.Ikhide, late last month held a close-door meeting with the Managing Director of NAMA, Alhaji Ibrahim Auyo at the headquarters of the agency. The meeting which began at about noon, it was further gathered lasted for close to three hours.
Competent sources close to the meeting informed that Sir Ikhide assured and promised to do all in his power to support the agency in promoting safety and improving quality of service in the industry. Reconciliation and payment schedule for the outstanding bills topped the agenda of discussion.
Before the airlines started showing up for accounts reconciliation, both Virgin Nigeria and Aerocontractors, it was gathered, had embraced the ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ payment plan for their West Coast operations. They now pay for their navigational charges in advance of two days, so as to avoid debt accumulation.
Other airlines that had earlier met with NAMA management were - Virgin Nigeria, Chanchangi Airlines and Aerocontractors on the same issue of debt payment, accounts reconciliation and payment schedule. Aerocontractors, it was learnt had before the meeting paid all its outstanding bills on international operations totaling $65,000. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: A landing Arik Plane
Virgin Nigeria on its part, also paid N5 million of its indebtedness to NAMA, with an agreed payment schedule of N5 million every week to offset its indebtedness. Other airlines are expected to meet with NAMA to pay part of their debts and also work out agreed payment schedule with the agency.
The Aviation Minister, Mrs Fidelia Njeze had early last month, waded into the face-off between NAMA and AON members over debts and terminal navigation charge about being enforced by the agency with airlines threatening to withdraw their services. Following the minister’s intervention, the airlines agreed to pay up their debts and meet with NAMA to have schedule of payment agreed to by both parties, while other industry issues including the domestic terminal navigation charge to be looked into by a committee to be set up by the minister.
The Ministerial Committee with members drawn from the Ministry of Aviation, AON, Labour Unions and all the para-ministry agencies had since began sitting late last month. It has three weeks within which to complete its job.
Lateef Lawal (NigerianAviationNews)
*Tags: Nigerians, NAMA, AON, Airlines, Aviation, Rift, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
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