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Reps Halt 150% Hike On Ground Charges For Airlines

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The House of Representatives has directed the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Aviation Ground Handlers Association of Nigeria (AGHAN) to put on hold, an approved increase of 150per cent ground rates for airlines operating in the country.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Hon Nnolim Nnaji(PDP-Enugu), gave the order at an investigative session with the NCAA, AGHAN, Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON and International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Earlier in the session, Nnolim had said, “We invited them to look at this and see what will come out of it. People have started flying and we don’t want a situation where we will get into trouble. If the ground charges are increased, flights will drop and it will affect the industry.
“We know that there is a need to increase or reduce, but decisions on issues like this, cannot be taken in isolation. It is the DG of the NCAA, that was supposed to speak on this issue, but since he is not here, we will talk with the directors”.
He, however, later added that “for now, let us maintain the status quo(there shouldn’t be a hike)”.
The hearing was adjourned to next Wednesday for further deliberations on the matter.
Earlier in his submission, on behalf of the President of AON, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina; the President of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema; kicked against the hike, insisting that it was unacceptable to airlines.
He stated in part that, “The Airline Operators of Nigeria(AON), is deeply concerned by the potential impact the recent approval granted by the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to Ground Handling Service Providers, to increase Ground Handling Charges, will have on the air transport industry and the nation at large.
“The new ground handling charges, which are expected to take effect from October 1, 2021, for international flights and January 1, 2022, for domestic flights, have been increased by an astronomical margin of between 100per cent and 1,200per cent.
“Put into perspective, international ground handling charges which used to be $400 are now $5,000 depending on the aircraft type. Also, domestic ground handling charges which used to be from N10,000 pee flight will now increase to between N20,000 and N70,000 depending on aircraft type.
“Sir, while the Ground Handling Companies May have their argument why they believe such an increase is necessary, we are of the opinion that the timing is rather ill-timed and unfortunate in the light of the fact that the aviation industry is barely trying to find its footing and is yet to recover from the negative impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic which continues to ravage the industry globally”.
He lamented that, “Airlines ordinarily are, as of today, burdened with over 37 multiple taxes, charges and levies inflicted on them by various government agencies. And this already puts airlines in a very difficult situation”.
According to him, “while airlines are finding a way to get the government to streamline these multiple taxes and ease the pressure on Nigerian travellers in order to jumpstart the economy, the recent increase in ground handling charges, will only serve to inflict additional pains and increase cost on the airlines as well, as the Nigerian passengers whose disposable income, have been stretched to an elastic limit.
“The Ground Handling Companies seems to be insensitive to the plight of the Nigerian travelling public in view of the fact that this additional cost, will end up being passed on to the customers who have already reached their elastic limit because of the harsh economic situation”.
Mr Samson Fatokun, who spoke on behalf of IATA, also kicked against the planned hike, as he decried that airlines, were already “In Survival Mode, due to devastating Covid-19 impact”.
He told the committee, that revenue from the industry “Dropped by 66% in 2020 vs 2019 in Nigeria”, as according to him, “domestic and foreign airlines are facing restricted access to Foreign Exchange, as $171million airline funds are blocked in Nigeria”.
He also told the committee that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), increased has also imposed “Passenger Service Charge by 100per cent in 2020”, in the face of “inadequate Airport Infrastructure”.
Fatokun recommenced that the stakeholders should “Allow time for bilateral negotiations between individual airlines and Ground Handling Companies”.
Vice President of AGHAN, Ahmed Bashir Gulmah, who spoke on behalf of his President, Mr Olaniyi Adigun, insisted that the hike was justified.
According to him, “The last one handling rates were reviewed in Nigeria, was in 1986 about 35 years ago! This was at a time when the United States dollar was 80k, but today, as we all know, a dollar is over N412”.
The association requested “the cooperation of the National Assembly (Committee on Aviation) to support and favourably consider the new safety threshold handling rates, which will take effect from October 1, 2021, for international operations and January 1, 2021, for domestic operators”.

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FG Declares Thursday Additional Holiday For Eid-el-Fitri

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The Federal Government has declared tomorrow, Thursday, as additional public holiday to commemorate this year’s Eid-el-Fitr.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr Aishetu Ndayako, made this known in a statement he shared on the ministry’s X account, yesterday.
The statement said, “The Federal Government has approved Thursday, April 11, 2024 as an additional public holiday to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Fitr.
“The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, while congratulating the Muslim Ummah for a successful completion of a month of spiritual rejuvenation, reiterates President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s firm commitment to providing a safe and prosperous Nigeria for all to thrive.”
Saudi Arabia, on Monday, said the crescent of Shawwal has not been sighted, indicating that the fasting would continue on Tuesday.
It also added that the Eid-el-Fitr would hold today, Wednesday, to mark the beginning of the new Islamic month.
The Federal Government had earlier on Sunday declared yesterday (Tuesday) and today, (Wednesday) as public holidays to mark the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

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Engage In Credible Opposition, We Won’t Hunt You, Fubara Tells IPAC …As Group Passes Confidence Vote On Rivers Gov

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has assured that the right climate will be created for all political parties to operate so that they can engage with Government and offer credible opposition.
The Governor emphasised that it was the best thing to do, especially because the opposition political parties have acknowledged that elections are over, and are resolved to offer effective support required to advance good governance in the State.
Governor Fubara spoke on Monday when he played host to the leadership of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Rivers State Chapter, led by its Chairman, Barrister Sensei Solsuema Osaro, at Government House in Port Harcourt.
The Governor insisted that an egalitarian society will be engendered so that people can feel free to voice their opinions without intimidation, because, according to him, those criticisms will contribute to having more focused implementation of policies that serve the general good of the State.
“So, we are happy to identify with you. We are assuring you, even when you leave here, criticise me, I don’t have problem with that, it is meant to spur me to do well. We will continue to give you the freedom. We will not cage anybody. We will not revoke your property.
“You can also take my message to your National Secretariat, we will continue to stand on the right path. We will support them because we can see that they are also doing what is right. Anytime they need our support, let them feel free to ask for it,” the Governor said.
Governor Fubara commended IPAC for identifying with his Administration, and pledging to collaborate efforts for the good of the State.
The State Chief Executive pointed out that no person who truly loves Rivers State, whether embittered, or not, will gladly want to burn down the State to achieve personal or political agenda.
The Governor said whatever political strength anybody claims to have, it amounts to nothing without the State and its people.
Governor Fubara assured that his team in Government will steadily work, genuinely, to protect the interest of the State.
While thanking the delegation for the vote of confidence passed on him and investing him as their Grand Patron, Governor Fubara urged them to tread the path of peace always in their activities.
Governor Fubara promised to consult with them and include their interest whenever appointments are made, and promised to donate a utility vehicle to enhance their logistics, while committing to support the upcoming programme of the body.
In his address, the Rivers State Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Barrister Sensei Solsuema Osaro, thanked Governor Fubara for the opportunity to meet with them, and announced that IPAC has passed a vote of confidence on the Governor.
He also announced the decision of IPAC to honour the Governor as the Grand Patron and Leader of the umbrella body of all political parties in the State.
“IPAC is a roundtable of political parties saddled with the responsibility of enlightenment, advocacy, educating, and inspiring courage among political parties and the society at large.
“With the elections come and gone, it is practically the time for governance and to ensure all derivable of dividends of democracy to the people of Rivers State.
“Herein lies the core of our visit today to forge a collaborative bond with you, His Excellency, to foster partnership for the overall interest of Rivers State.
“We heartily congratulate you on your victory at Supreme Court judgement, which affirmed your election at the polls. To this end, we in IPAC have passed a vote of confidence on His Excellency, and assure you of our collaborative, collective and individual support to succeed now, and in the course of your administration, and after,” he added.
More than 17 State Chairmen of Registered Political Parties in the State were in the delegation to pay a solidarity visit to the Governor.
Highlights of the visit were the presentation of a large plaque of portrait picture, certificate as Grand Patron, IPAC T-Shirt and Fez Cap by IPAC Chairman to Governor Fubara.

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Our Position On Rivers PDP Ward, LGA, State Excos Unshaken -Fubara

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The National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has debunked as fake and misleading, the purported list of Caretaker Committee members circulating in the social media and published in some national dailies on Thursday, April 4, 2024.
The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, who said this after a meeting with the NWC at the National Secretariat, Wadata Plaza in Abuja, last Thursday evening, restated that the resolutions of a meeting held between the NWC and members of the Board of Trustees (BOTs) and PDP Governors’ Forum in Abuja in March on the issue remain valid.
Governor Fubara reiterated the position of the party that the executive officers whose tenures had expired in March, shall remain in their various capacities until the three months’extension period approved by the NWC elapses, and new congresses conducted to replace them.
He recalled that a letter signed by the National Organising Secretary, Hon Umar M. Bature, dated Wednesday, March 27, 2024, addressed to the Chairman, Rivers State Caretaker Committee, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon Aaron Chukwuemeka, and titled: “Approval of Wards, Local Government Area and State Caretaker Committee Members for Rivers State”, had clearly resolved the issue of the authentic members of the Caretaker Committees at the affected levels.
The letter, copied the Acting National Chairman, Amb. Umar Iliya Damagum; Deputy National Chairman, South, His Excellency, Amb. Taofeek Arapaja; the Executive Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara; National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu; and National Legal Adviser, Ajibade Kamaldeen Adeyemi, SAN, reads in full, “Following the expiration of the elected Ward, LGA, and State Executive Members in Rivers State, the National Working Committee (NWC), pursuant to the provisions of Section 29 (2) (b) of the Constitution of our Party, has, on behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC) approved the appointment of the expired Excos as Caretaker Committee Members.
“For the avoidance of doubt, attached to this letter is theauthentic list of the Caretaker Committee Members in Rivers State. These Caretaker Committees shall run the affairs of our Party at their appropriate levels for a period of three (3) months effective from the dates of their expiration, i.e. March 14, 18, 21, 2024 for Wards, LGA, and State, respectively.
“Please note that the NWC equally approved that anywhere vacancies have occurred due to death, removal, resignation, or defection, such vacancies shall not be filled.
“While thanking you for your continuous commitment, please accept the assurances of the NWC’s highest regards”.
Governor Fubara emphasized that the party stands on the agreement reached on the issue as encapsulated in the letter by the NWC to the State Chairman of PDP dated March 27, adding that no amount of intimidation, clandestine moves, wasteful lobbying and needless expenditure of public funds will change the position already taken.
The Governor stated that the list purported to be members of the Caretaker Committees of the party in the state was only the imagination of its purveyors, and advised those whose names were removed in the fake list and gullible members of the public to ignore it in its entirety.
He said that the party did not at any time remove or replace the names of officers whose tenures had been officially extended for three months, pending possible National Executive Committee ratification on April 18.
Governor Fubara insisted that what was published on Thursday and circulated on social media is not only fake, concocted and manipulated to suit the desperate ambitions of enemies of the State and its people, but a deliberate attempt to provoke members and cause discord in the party.
He observed that the list published in some national dailies and circulated on social media on Thursday was the handiwork of politicians who were spending public funds to cause unnecessary tension, anxiety and friction in the polity, and also distract the Government from the real task of governance in the State.
The Governor urged the elected officers of the party at ward, local government, and state levels whose names were removed and replaced with fictitious names to remain calm, and go about their legitimate duties as officers of the party.
He also warned those fomenting trouble and fanning the embers of confusion and disunity to retrace their steps, and embrace peace or face severe consequences.
The Governor also warned those whose names were forced into the fake and fabricated list of purported Caretaker Committee members being circulated not to be deceived by anybody with unmerited appointment, and avoid parading themselves or showing their presence at any party offices pretending to be officials, as anyone caught would be made to face the full wrath of the law for forgery and impersonation.

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