In an unprecedented profligacy, the Federal Government has spent over $ 1. 478 billion on the national airline contract and a shipping line deal with PIL, a shipping giant of Singapore.
About $ 1.478 billion has already been spent on the suspended proposed National Window Project, Israeli Waterways contract by the Federal Ministry of Transportation under the supervisor of Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi as stakeholders described the wastage as a laurel for idiocy and misapplication of scarce funds.
Another $300million was spent on the suspended Nigeria Air Project which was expected to kick start a new national airline in December.
This morning, political activists, were all united in condemning the spokesman of the aviation arm of the Transportation Ministry, Mr. James Odaudu, who on behalf of his principal, Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Aviation, announced the suspension of the project in a terse statement on his social media account.
Odaudu, who did not give any reason for the suspension, attributed the suspension to his principal, Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Aviation.
He wrote, “I regret to announce that the Federal Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National carrier project in the interim. All commitment due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always. Hadi Sirika”
Many Nigerians had expressed joy over announcement of the airline as a replacement for the defunct Nigeria Airways. Some had expressed pessimism on the possibility of the airline working as according to them, there was nothing on ground to support.
However, while reacting to the suspension, former Education Minister, Dr. Oby Ezekwelesi had severally tweeted that the Airline Project was programmed to fail.
Also in his reaction, a Lagos based legal practitioner, Barrister Bassey Okon told The Tide that the move was a misplaced priority: a government whose policy is not sensitive to the people cannot be expected to work with the feelings of the people, adding that this is a government that is not focused.
Look at the policy inconsistency of the government and how they returned unspent budgetary allocation last year, so they have to create avenues to siphon the money before the end of the year, when they would be asked to make refunds. “We have a government with no focus, that is directionless”, he said.
While Baale, Otto-Awori, Chief Alhaji Wright, said the government saw this as an easy means of siphoning the nation’s resources.
He claimed that it was unfortunate that there was a government in place, yet the country’s priorities were not considered.
“We have a government in place, yet the Lagos – Seme Badagry road, an international route that leads to many African countries is a total shambles, yet the government wasted such a huge amount on the suspended scam.
“It is unfortunate the government does not see anything important in fixing the international routes in order to avoid unnecessary deaths these Ember months when people would travel enmasse to their towns and countries for festivals.
More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining
As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth.
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.
Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project -Akawor
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them.
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.
PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations
Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations.
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.
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