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2018 Budget: Consolidate On Agricultural Gains, FRC Tells FG

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Acting Chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Mr Victor Muruako has advised  the Federal Government to consolidate on the gains in agricultural sector to realise its projections for the 2018 budget.
He gave the advice on Wednesday in Abuja while speaking with newsmen on the 2018 budget, put at N8.612 trillion.
The budget, tagged “Budget of Consolidation’’, which  was presented to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday is expected to reinforce and build on recent accomplishments of the government.
Its key parameters include a crude oil benchmark price of 45 dollar per barrel, oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day and exchange rate of N305 per dollar.
The budget also has projected oil revenue of N2.442 trillion and non-oil projection of N4.165 trillion.
Muruako said though a lot of work had gone into the agriculture sector, the nation could go further by developing agriculture- related Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to improve on agricultural produce.
He said this would ensure that the produce were converted into other consumables that were often imported, thereby reducing importation and increasing the nation’s export base.
“I am very happy about the sectoral allocation for agriculture, it is one area that will grow this economy, particularly if the right things are done and if SMEs are encouraged,’’ he said.
On the budget projections, Muruako said they were realistic and achievable, though aggressive.
He said that it was better to plan ambitiously than make plans that were below reasonable expectations.
“If you look at the projections, they are very aggressive efforts and good, because they are layouts and plans and it is better to plan and get close to your target than to not plan at all.
“Budget is like a financial plan and you have to be ambitious, this government has been ambitious and maybe that is why we have been able to exit recession quickly.
“These projections are achievable, particularly when you look at the steady decline of inflation.
“We may say it is not so dramatic yet, but I think that the projection rate for inflation of 12.8 per cent is achievable.’’
He also said the projected non-oil revenue was evidence that the administration was serious about diversification, adding that it showed that taxation would be a good revenue generator for the year.
Muruako commended Buhari for presenting the proposal to the National Assembly early enough, adding that it would be a very beautiful thing for the budget life to return to the January to December cycle.
He also said this would enable the nation run the fiscal year in the ideal way it should be run.
“It has not been easy all these years, the inconsistency in the budget cycle did not just start now, there had been numerous challenges but then there have also been a lot of improvement.
“We must first of all commend the President for presenting the budget at this time.
“Although statutorily, it is not the right time, but I think the time is reasonable enough, it is an improvement from what it used to be.’’

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NSIB, AAAU Sign MoU On Air Safety Training

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As part of efforts to curb mishaps in the aviation industry, the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Aviation and Aerospace University (AAAU) to deepen training on preventing and reducing accidents in Nigeria’s air transport.
Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection of NBIS, Mrs Bimbo Olawumi Oladeji, in a statement, said NSIB granted AAAU access to its facilities to facilitate an efficient exchange of resources and expertise.
According to the statement, the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of NSIB, Captain Alex Badeh, who spoke at the ceremony held at the NSIB Training School, noted that the MoU sets the stage for facility sharing, capacity building, and collaboration between the Bureau and AAAU.
“I am confident that this MoU will enhance the effectiveness of our collaboration and commitment to promoting safer skies and operational excellence in the aviation industry in Nigeria and beyond”, Badeh said.
Registrar of AAAU, represented by the Director of Physical Planning and Works, Engineer Masud Aliyu Yerima, was also quoted in the statement, saying, “The journey of AAAU’s establishment and progress would have faced considerable challenges without NSIB’s generous support”.
He commended Badeh for his exemplary leadership and steadfast dedication in propelling NSIB to greater heights, and affirmed AAAU’s readiness to engage in mutually beneficial endeavours with NSIB.
“This partnership marks a significant milestone in fostering a culture of safety and excellence within Nigeria’s aviation sector, and both NSIB and AAAU are poised to leverage this synergy for the benefit of the industry and the nation at large.
“The African Aviation and Aerospace University, AAAU, is the first Pan-African university dedicated to aviation, aerospace, and environmental science.
“Addressing two critical needs within the continent’s industry, AAAU tackles the research and development gap in Africa’s aviation and aerospace sector while simultaneously cultivating a skilled workforce to propel it forward”, the statement added.

By: Corlins Walter

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Naira Rebound, Air Peace’s Expansion Deepens International Route Competition 

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he commencement of flights operations on the London route by an indegenous Carrier, Air Peace Airline, and the recovery of the local currency have sparked fresh competition on international routes.
Air Peace, Nigeria’s outstanding indigenous airline, may face a prolonged market battle with many foreign airlines with decades of experience in the industry following its entrance on the Nigeria-London route.
Some of the industry’s experts say the airline required support from the government and a strategic approach to stay competitive.
Analysts have also stated that the strategic move has garnered high praise from stakeholders in the aviation sector, considering that Nigerians were paying exorbitant prices to travel from Nigeria to London, but that sustaining this momentum will require more than just offering low prices.
On March 31, 2024, the 11-year-old airline made a bold statement with its inaugural flight, using a Boeing 777 aircraft, offering a capacity of 274 seats and carrying 260 passengers from Lagos to London.
It sold its tickets for N1.2m, a price way lower than the rates offered by most foreign airline operators plying the same route.
Just two weeks after entering the market, Air Peace’s Chief Executive Officer, Allen Onyema, complained on Arise TV that foreign airlines were undercutting prices in an attempt to push Air Peace out of the market.
Onyema said, “We are aware that there are devilish conspiracies. All of a sudden, airlines are pricing below the cost. One airline is advertising $100  and the other $350. If you peel up your entire aircraft and carry people on the wings, it is not even enough to buy fuel.
“Why are they doing that? Their government is supporting them because Nigeria has been a cash cow for everybody. The idea is to take Air Peace out, and the moment they succeed in taking Air Peace out, Nigerians will pay 20 times over. It would happen, God forbid, if they were able to take Air Peace out”.
It was gathered that an economy ticket for a flight scheduled for April 29, 2024, from Lagos to London costs about N679,375 on Ethiopian Airlines, an operator with 75 years of experience.
Air Peace priced the same ticket at N1,090,750. The difference is that on Air Peace, it will be a 6-hour non-stop flight, while on Ethiopian Airlines, it will take 16 hours with one stopover.
Last Friday, Ethiopian Airlines reduced the price of its London ticket by 0.77 per cent to N1,628,660 from  N1,641,249 two weeks ago.
In the same period, Air France’s price dropped to N1,687,824, nearly halving from last month’s N2,482,138.
On March 4, 2024, Lufthansa offered the Lagos-London route for N1,966,165. Qatar Airways provided the same ticket for N2,016,824, and KLM priced it at N2,448,740.
This continuous decline in air ticket prices was also driven by the strengthening of the naira against the US dollar and the payments of airlines’ trapped funds by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, had confirmed that the Federal Government, through the CBN, had cleared all the trapped funds (foreign exchange backlogs) to the tune of about $160m.
Beyond the ongoing price war, the Air Peace Chairman had also lamented the challenges with ground handling and space allocation at the London Gatwick Airport, adding that no airline has faced such obstacles before.
He noted, “On the inaugural flight out of London, 24 hours before departure, the management of Gatwick Airport moved us to another checking area instead of the designated one.
“The area they provided had a malfunctioning carousel, forcing us to manually transport luggage 50 meters away, causing delays”.

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PH Airport Users Lament Down Turn In Flight Operations 

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Users and business operators at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, have decried the downward trend in flight operations at the airport.
Some of the users and operators told The Tide that flight operations at the airport, rather than go upward, have steadily been irregular, and diminishing steadily.
A regular air passenger of the airport, Simeon Echeonwu, in a chat with The Tide, said many airlines, both domestic and international operators, that usually operate at the Port Harcourt airport, have stopped operations, whereas others that are still operating are no longer very stable as before.
Echeonwu noted that airlines such as Aero Contractors, United Nigeria, and Green Africa airlines, now operate about one flight, twice a week, unlike before that they flew every day on Lagos and Abuja to Port Harcourt.
Also speaking, former Chairman of the FAAN Accredited Car Hires Association, Clifford Wahunoro, lamented that the down turn in Operations has affected the business of car hires.
“If you have noticed, I have not been regular at the airport for some time now, because business is no longer flowing at the airport as before. I will not fold my hands and be sitting down doing nothing, so I have to look for other things, so I come when I think there will be something.
“You can see that between 12noon and 1pm, after that segment of flights, when you have few flights arrival, many people will close for the day, and when you wait till evening, flight like Dana may come very late at night, and sometimes, it will not arrive, and by that time, many people will not like to book for commercial vehicle”, he said.
Meanwhile, a travel agent, who wished to be anoyimous, decried the rate at which the airport is going down in terms of flights operations, noting that Port Harcourt airport ought to be competing with the other major airports like Lagos and Abuja.
He queried if such was a calculated attempt to bring the airport to its kneel in terms of flight operations, while other major airports have steady flow of flight operations both for domestic and international.
TheTide observed a continuous distortions in flight movement at the airport. Some of the airlines, like Max air, which many passengers patronize, have completely stopped operations, and no new airline has been added.
Apart from the Air Peace Airline that has maintained some level of stability in operations, other few operators have been involved in either steady rescheduling of flights, cancellation and regular delay, resulting in poor and unpredictable flight movement, which affects or determine other businesses in the airport.

By: Corlins Walter

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