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FG suspends commencement of new national carrier, Nigeria Air

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FG suspends commencement of new national carrier, Nigeria Air

The Nigerian government on Wednesday announced immediate suspension of its widely publicised national carrier because the nation’s Economic Management Team (EMT) did not approve it when it launched, sources familiar with the matter have told PREMIUM TIMES.

Sources at the presidential villa told this newspaper Wednesday night that the EMT recommendation was that the Nigerian government should not set up a national carrier with public funds.

The EMT is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s aviation minister, announced the cancellation on Wednesday shortly after the cabinet meeting. The minister later posted the announcement on his Twitter page.

Mr Sirika said: “I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always.”

Mr Sirika gave no explanation for the development, which has in the last few hours generated heated debate among Nigerians.

But a presidential sources familiar with the matter told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night that the EMT wanted the ministry of transportation to instead accelerate the search for strategic investment partners who will finance and manage the new airline.

In the absence of a borrowing plan for government participation, a source said, the president ruled against spending money that is not in the budget. Promoters of the idea of the new national carrier were therefore asked to work towards 2019 budget if any government investment is to be involved, PREMIUM TIMES gathered.

The cancellation announcement comes barely two months after Nigeria unveiled the proposed airline at the Farnborough Air Show in England on July 18.

Critics and industry experts raised concerns over the project when it was launched in July, with many suggesting that Nigeria cannot afford it at this time.

Among the critics was former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili, who argued that the process was not completely transparent.

But the Nigerian government dismissed all concerns raised, saying the airline would begin operation before the end of 2018. During electioneering in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised to establish a national airline.

In July, shortly after receiving the Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the establishment of the airline from Chidi Izuwah, the Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr Sirika, a former pilot, boasted that the airline would be viable. He also said Nigeria will receive the first set of five airplanes for the airliner on December 19, with projections that the airline will make profit in three years after operations.

The proposed airline was expected to gulp $8.8 million preliminary cost and $300 million as take-off cost.

Nigeria’s defunct carrier, Nigeria Airways, became moribund due to corruption and poor management. More than a decade after the national career stopped operations, however, the numerous controversies surrounding its winding up have not been resolved.

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Cloudy, sunny weather, thundery showers to prevail on Saturday – NiMet

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What the weather will look like on Friday - NiMet

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted cloudy and sunny weather conditions with chances of thundery showers over most parts of the country on Saturday.

NiMet’s Weather Outlook by its Central Forecast Office (CFO) on Friday, predicted partly cloudy to cloudy morning over the central states with day and night temperatures of 29 to 33 and 18 to 23 degrees Celsius respectively.

It added that scattered thundery showers over Abuja, Nasarawa, Bida, Southern Kaduna, Minna and thunderstorms over Mambilla plateau and parts of Jalingo during the afternoon and evening period.

The agency predicted that Northern States would experience partly cloudy to sunny conditions during the forecast period.

It also predicted chances of thundery shower over Yelwa during the afternoon and evening hours with day and night temperatures of 35 to 37 and 21 to 25 degrees Celsius respectively.

According to NiMet, Southern States will experience cloudy conditions with slim chances of rains over the South East coast during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, there are chances of scattered thunderstorms over the region with day and night temperatures of 30 to 31 and 21 to 22 degrees Celsius respectively.

“Cloudy to partly cloudy conditions with chances of scattered thunderstorms and rainfall activities are expected over some parts of the country in the next 24 hours,” NiMet predicted.

(NAN)

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900 Nigeria Airways retirees die

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Nigeria Airways pensioners lament tedious verification procedure

Shu’aibu Alfa, Member Ministerial Committee on the verification of payment of retired Nigeria Airways workers, on Friday revealed that 900 retirees have so far died nationwide from 2004 till date.

Alfa, a captain, who is the Supervisor, Kano Verification Centre, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kano.

There are three centres where the ongoing verification exercise for the Nigeria Airways retirees are being conducted.

He said during the 15 years, no fewer than 900 of the retirees died, while the medical cases of some of them became worse, homes were broken and some were in situations beyond human imagination.

“The verification exercise has been going on very well, we made sure retirees were former staff of Nigeria Airways and we have their records.

“We ask questions and when they are certified, we clear them to start the verification process.

“In the verification team, we have people from the Ministry of Aviation, Ministry of Finance, Accountant General’s Office, Head of Service, EFCC, ICPC, PITAD and we also have our representatives on each desk,” Alfa said.

Mr Alfa, who was the Secretary, Nigeria Airways Pilots Association, commended President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Aviation and the Minister of Transportation, for approving the payment of their long awaited entitlement.

He also commended the support of the traditional rulers, religious leaders, political leaders and many other well-meaning Nigerians.

He appealed to the retirees to exercise patience during the exercise, as the committee was doing everything to ensure they were promptly screened.

(NAN)

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Lebanese convicted for currency trafficking in Nigeria

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Lebanese convicted for currency trafficking in Nigeria

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Friday secured the conviction one Haytham Aldahrah , a Lebanese who was arrested at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport while trying to board an Egypt Air flight to Cairo for refusing to declare the sum $105,000 and €65,000 respectively to the Nigeria Customs Service.

Upon his arrest, Mr Aldahrah declared the sum of $95,000 (Ninety Five Thousand Dollars) but a search conducted on him, revealed that he was carrying a further sum of $105,000 (One Hundred and Five Thousand Dollars) which he concealed from the authorities.

When the convict was arraigned on October 16, he pleaded not guilty to the two count charge but, two days later changed his plea to ‘guilty’.

In view of his latest plea, prosecution counsel Mohammed Gambo urged the court to convict him accordingly.

Justice Allagoa granted the prayer of the prosecution and convicted the defendant on the two counts charge. The judge sentenced the convict to forfeit 50% each of the undeclared sum he was found with, that is $52,550 and €32,250 to Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

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