Labour unions in the aviation sector yesterday shut down Arik Air operations, vowing to continue the action until the airline agreed to implement the agreement reached by the two parties in December.
The unions involved in the action are: National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) had, on Feb. 9, taken over the airline.
The takeover was as a result of the airline’s huge indebtedness to the company and other creditors, both local and foreign.
AMCON had, thereafter, appointed Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, as manager of the airline, under the receivership of Mr Oluseye Opasanya,(SAN).
NUATE’s General Secretary, Mr Olayinka Abioye, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that all the airline’s operations in the country would remain disrupted as long as it takes, for Arik’s several breaches.
“You will recall that late last year, there was an industrial action against Arik, and the Federal Government intervened through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“Certain agreements were extracted from the NCAA meeting, and we were hoping that the management of Arik would be responsible enough to implement those agreements.
“But unfortunately, as we speak, none of the agreements has been implemented.
“One of the agreements is the payment of staff salaries; but as we speak, Arik is indebted to their workers more than seven months salaries.
“The airline is also indebted in several taxes for several months, and pension contributions for years..
“To worsen it, our agencies such as NAMA, NCAA, NIMET, FAAN and other service providers, are being owed huge sums of money.
“This is also impacting negatively on the capability of those agencies, and which in turn affect the staff welfare in those places who we represent as unions,” he said.
Abioye said these were issues that had brought the unions to the door of the airline.
According to him, Arik cannot be under a receivership and refuse to dialogue with the people the former management is indebted to.
He said the unions had taken over the airline’s operations and would do so until it was ready to pay its debt.
Abioye said the airline would not have access to the local and international terminals and the ticket counters at the airports.
“We all know that FAAN operates the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) where Arik operates from, and we have just taken over the place.
“We are going to continue with this picketing as long as the airline, under this present management, is ready to implement our agreement.
“This morning, the unions have addressed intending passengers that came to the airport to catch up their flight, and they have understanding with us.
“We have apologised to the concerned passengers for the inconvenience the airline has put them through.
“We are hoping that they will also be magnanimous to look for other airlines to fly,” he said.
Similarly, ATSSSAN’s General Secretary, Mr Micheal Agamah, urged AMCON to replace the current receivership manager before any meaningful dialogue with the airline’s management could take place.
“With his intolerance to unionism which he has displayed so far, if we allow him to still stay in office, who will implement the resolution of the dialogue we had with the previous management?
“Apart from fighting for the interest of the workers, we are ready to protect the right of workers, which the Constitution, under Section 40, guarantees — freedom of association,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Arik Air, in a statement signed by its media consultant, Mr Simon Tumba, said the picketing was illegal because its motive was unclear to the management.
“It is a well-known fact that Arik is under Receivership, following various challenges experienced over the last few years.
“These include delays and cancellations of flights, delays in payment of salaries and huge debts to trade creditors and suppliers, bad corporate governance and a host of others.’’
He said that since AMCON took over the airline, salaries were being paid, including backlogs and on time performance had improved from 15 per cent to average of 80 per cent.
Tumba said fuel suppliers that had hitherto quit doing business with Arik were happily doing business with the airline.
“For the record, the management had engaged with its staff, and is convinced that there is no reason to picket our airline, which is facing challenging times.
“The focus of the Arik Air management is to stabilise the operations of the airline and enhance its ability to play a positive role in Nigeria’s aviation industry.
“Therefore, the management of the airline advises the unions to steer clear from undermining the operations of Arik Air.
“Management would take every legal measure at its disposal, to stop any illegal interference with its operations,” he said.
Osinbajo Solicits Support For FG’s Housing Scheme
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged financial market experts to support the Federal Government’s efforts by developing an appropriate housing finance model that will significantly transform the housing sector on a large scale.
Osinbajo stated this on Monday when he received, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the Financial Markets Dealers Quotations Group (FMDQ) led by its Chief Executive Officer, Bola Onadele; who came alongside a delegation from the Independent Petroleum Producers Group.
Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Let’s unlock Nigeria’s housing deficit, Osinbajo tasks financial market experts.’
Economic experts posit that the housing deficit in Nigeria is estimated between 18-22 million housing units, while the ratio of mortgage finance to GDP in the country is only 0.5 per cent, it is 31 per cent in South Africa and two per cent in Ghana and Botswana.
In his address, the Vice President said, “I like the point you made about the National Housing Blueprint. I very strongly believe that if we can unlock the conundrum in the sector, we can get things working.
“In our ESP, we have something on social housing but one of the critical issues there is how to market these houses, how we can provide the finance so that people can afford to buy them. These are houses that are in the order of about N2 million or N2.5 million.
“But there are still constraints on account of the fact that we just do not have anything like a feasible housing finance model, I think it is time for us to do so. It just looks like it has always escaped our capacity to find a real solution to the problem”.
Speaking on the possibility of having a model that will work, Osinbajo noted that “everyone recognises that we are in very challenging times. But I agree with you that the sheer range and vastness of our potentials make it seem almost intuitive that we are bound to succeed.
“I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that given the right mix of policy initiatives, we can get these things done. And your characterization of what needs to be done like attracting capital and sustaining it is so important because ultimately, capital will go where it is best treated.
“And if we are able to attract it (because we have the market, we have everything going for us), even in the worst of times, despite the situation, you find that there is still a great deal of interest.”
Speaking earlier, Onadele said the visit was to inform the Vice President about the transformation taking place in the FMDQ and the need for government support in growing the financial market for the benefit of Nigerians and the economy.
Nigerians Spent N2.33trn On Petrol In 13 Months – NNPC
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Monday said that the total revenue generated from the sale of petroleum products for the period of May 2020 to May 2021 stood at N2.35tn.
Out of this amount, the corporation disclosed, Premium Motor Spirit contributed about 99.61 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.34tn.
A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Garba-Deen Muhammad, said the figures were contained in the May 2021 edition of the NNPC Monthly Financial and Operations Report.
The statement was titled, “NNPC records crude oil, gas sales of $219.75m in May …posts N295.72bn from sale of petroleum products”
It read in part, “Total revenues generated from the sale of petroleum products for the period of May 2020 to May 2021 stood at N2.345tn where Premium Motor Spirit contributed about 99.61 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.336 trillion.
“In terms of volume, the figure translates to a total of 2.241 billion litres of white products sold and distributed by PPMC in the month of May 2021 compared with 1.673billion litres in the month of April 2021.”
Total sales of petroleum products for the period May 2020 to May 2021 stood at 18.65 billion litres and PMS accounted for 99.69 per cent of total volume.
The corporation also recorded a total crude oil and gas export sales of $219.75m in May this year.
The $219.75m represents an increase in sales of 180.29 per cent when compared to the previous month of April this year.
The report stated that crude oil export sales contributed $181.19m (82.45 per cent) of the dollar transactions compared with $4.22m contribution in the previous month, while the export gas sales component stood at $38.56m in May 2021.
Forex: CBN To Engage Crime Agencies To Fight Fraudsters
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to engage financial crime fighting agencies to pursue fraudsters who have been deceiving the banks with fake documents to buy foreign exchange at cheap rates and sell at higher rates at the black market.
The apex bank had, few weeks ago, stopped selling forex to Bureau De Change operators and asked legitimate travellers to approach the banks to access cheap forex.
This is against the backdrop that many customers have been deceiving commercial banks with fake documents to obtain the forex at cheaper rate, and prevented genuine travellers from gaining access to forex.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had in an earlier statement, said that the BDCs defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail users and had become wholesale and illegal dealers.
“They have remained renegade and so greedy, recalcitrant with abnormally high profit from these sales, while ordinary Nigerians have been left to feel the pain and therefore suffer,” the CBN boss said.
Emiefele had posited that the CBN had maintained its stand to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs.
He urged Nigerians with legitimate business to approach the banks for cheap forex.
According to him, travellers could access up to $4,000 for personal travelling allowance and $5,000 for business travelling allowance.
Findings, however, showed that commercial banks have been reporting fraudulent forex demands to the CBN.
Confirming this, the CBN governor said, “We conducted a study; one of the banks in one day sold to 52 people who said they wanted to travel. After two weeks, they went to check, 40 out of the 52 had cancelled their tickets.
“How could you have a situation where about 70 per cent or 80 per cent who went to bank to buy BTA on the reason that they want to travel, banks sold to them, they turned back and went and sold to the black market. They were asked to return it and we are going to pursue you if you are involved in these nefarious activities.
“If you go to bank with fake visa, fake passport, we have told them not to sell to you. If they sell to you mistakenly, and after two weeks, we check and find that you cancelled your ticket or your visa is fake, they will call you because you are their customer.
“They have your BVN, they have your number, they will call you to return the dollars. If you do not return it, they will place your name on their website, your BVN on their website, we will pick those details.
“We will send them to EFCC and other crime agencies, they will pursue you and you must return the dollars because you cannot acquire it illegally. That is our position”.
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