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Domestic Airlines Shut Down Operations, Today

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Nigerian airline operators have issued a notice that with effect from today, they would shut down their operations due to the high cost of aviation fuel which has hit N700 per litre.
A statement by the President of the group, Allen Onyema, made available to The Tide in Port Harcourt, stated that operators have carried on deploying and subsidising their services to passengers in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.
According to him, overtime, aviation fuel price (JetA1) has risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently.
He maintained that no airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period.
The airlines – Azman Air, Max Air, United Nigeria Airways, Ibom Air, Arik Air, Air Peace, Dana Air and Overland Airways – made this known in a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika while copying the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Musa Nuhu.
While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40percent of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95percent.
In the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, NNPC and oil marketers with the view to bringing the cost of JetA1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria today to an average of N120,000.
The latter cannot be fully passed to passengers who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.
A statement advised the travelling public who intend to fly to make alternative arrangements to avoid being stranded at the country’s airports.
The statement read: “It is with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have carried on deploying and subsidising their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.
“Overtime, aviation fuel price (JetA1) has risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently. No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period. While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40percent of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95percent.
“In the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, NNPC and oil marketers with the view to bringing the cost of JetA1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria, today, to an average of N120,000. The latter cannot be fully passed to passengers who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.
“While AON appreciates the efforts of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows, unfortunately, the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated thereby creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines. This is unsustainable and the airlines can no longer absorb the pressure.
“To this end therefore, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby wishes to regrettably inform the general public that member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday, May 9, 2022 until further notice.
“AON uses this medium to humbly state that we regret any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and appeal to travellers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements”, President, AON, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, advised.
However, Ibom Air has said that it is not part of the decision of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to suspend flight operations from tomorrow over increase in aviation fuel price to N700.
The airline said even though it acknowledged the existential threat that fuel price increases pose for the air transport industry in Nigeria, it could not afford to stop operating given its obligations to suppliers, financiers and staff, which depend on uninterrupted flow of revenue to service.
It said every airline has its unique business model and pressures and that despite the escalating fuel prices, airlines volunteering to stop operations would rather exacerbate an already bad situation.
“Ibom Air acknowledges the existential threat that these runaway fuel price increases pose for the air transport industry in Nigeria. We agree that this out-of-control situation is simply unsustainable.
“However, every airline has its unique business model and pressures. We believe that in spite of the escalating fuel prices, airlines volunteering to stop operations would rather exacerbate an already bad situation.
“Ibom Air has financial obligations to suppliers, financiers and staff, which depend on uninterrupted flow of revenue to service. More importantly is the fact that having been paid by customers in advance for flight bookings we are bound by contract to deliver the services already paid for, to avoid exposing the airline to the risk of avoidable litigation.
“Apart from the above factors, Ibom Air is currently the only airline serving Akwa Ibom State directly and as such, any voluntary stoppage of operations would completely cut off access by air into and out of the state. Such action would be directly in conflict with and detrimental to the interest of our shareholder.
“In view of the foregoing facts, Ibom Air had respectfully disagreed with the decision of AON to suspend flight operations on Monday, May 9, 2022. Ibom Air cannot in the circumstance volunteer to stop operating and will continue normal operations on Monday, May 9, 2022, and beyond.
“Ibom Air’s inclusion as ‘signatory’ to the statement released by AON must have derived from its active and committed membership of the AON.
“The above notwithstanding, we identify very strongly with our AON colleagues and will participate in every effort to resolve this frightening situation as soon as possible in the interest of our business, our customers, our stakeholders and our country,” the airline said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, yesterday, said the planned shutdown of airline operations by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wasn’t in any way a strike against the Federal Government.
The ministry reacted to inquiries by some media houses to clarify if the notice to the Federal Government and passengers by the Airline Operators of Nigeria to shut down airline operations from Monday, 9th was a strike over the rising cost of Jet-A1.
In a statement by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation, Dr James Odaudu, he said operations of airlines were purely their private business and not connected to being a strike.
His statement read: “Since members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) issued a notice of withdrawal of flight services as a result of the rising cost of Jet A1 (Aviation fuel), and in spite of the initial statement by the ministry, enquiries have continued to flood in with some under the erroneous impression that the withdrawal was a kind of strike against the government.
“We wish to state that the decision of the association is purely a business one as they are private businesses reacting to market forces but appealing for interventions to enable them to carry on with their operations.
“The ministry has always made conscious efforts to assist members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), some of which includes facilitating a meeting between the Association and Mr President, during which the Association got several concessions, including duty-free importation of aircraft, engines, spare parts and components.
“The Honourable Minister at various times personally took members of the association to engage with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sort out issues of access to Foreign Exchange (FOREX) for their operations, and also the NNPC to exploit ways of ensuring the availability of Aviation fuel (JET A1) through importation or from the major marketers.
“It should also be recalled that members of the association were also considered for, and given Bail-out funds to the tune of N4billion during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they remained afloat. This was without prejudice to the fact that most of them were heavily indebted to aviation agencies (as they still are).
“We believe that members of the association are patriots who have continued to bear the brunt of an unfavourable oil market for which we salute their doggedness.
“It is gratifying that members of the association have started reviewing the decision to withdraw flight services, with Ibom Air Green Africa Airlines, Arik Air, Dana and others confirming that they will carry on with their normal flight schedules. We hope that other members will consider the expected impact on businesses and individuals and review their decision.
“We also wish to assure foreign airlines operating in the country that all logistics and services for their operations remain in place as usual and that no disruptions whatsoever should be envisaged.
“As a government, we reiterate our commitment to the continued growth of the aviation industry where airlines and other service providers operate in a profitable and competitive environment.”
In the same token, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has warned airlines against selling tickets if they won’t operate.
The caution followed the information by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on the shutdown of flight operations from today.
The carriers particularly blamed the high and increasing cost of jet fuel for their decision.
Though Ibom Air has announced that it would continue operations, others seem resolved to carry out the threat.
In a statement, FCCPC chief Babatunde Irukera, appealed to them to consider the effect of the proposed action on passengers.
The agency said it does not trivialise the challenge the current price of fuel poses to domestic aviation, coupled with other rising costs of operations and foreign exchange.
Irukera said talks were ongoing with the leadership of major fuel marketers to understand the global supply challenges and possible steps for resolution.
The commission advocated engagement among stakeholders to mitigate constraints and develop an interim arrangement to address problems associated with global supply on account of the war, sanctions and post-pandemic recovery.
The FCCPC, however, raised concern about rising consumer feedback that airlines have continued to sell tickets beyond the date announced for the proposed service shutdown.
“It will be egregious exploitation of consumers and a violation of law to purport to sell a service that the service provider knows, it will not, or does not intend to provide or deliver.
“It is misleading and deceptive under S.123 of the FCCPA to represent a service will be delivered on a certain date when the provider knows the same is false or improbable,” it said.
The statement expressed hope that airline operators will not deliberately sell tickets for flights they do not intend to operate.
Irukera said the agency would continue to monitor the evolving situation and remain committed to supporting engagements to provide solutions and stability.

By: Ike Wigodo

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We Need President Who Believes In Unity Of Nigeria -Wike

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Rivers State Governor and presidential aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians to take the opportunity that the 2023 general election would offer them to elect a Nigerian who believes in the unity of the country and its people.
Speaking to leaders and delegates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Birnin Kebbi, capital of Kebbi State, yesterday, Wike emphasised that Nigeria was more divided now under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government than ever.
Wike pointed to the need why the country requires a president that would be in charge of things, including issues of security and the economy.
He described as sad that Nigerian farmers cannot go to farm conveniently or go about their trading activities because of insecurity.
“We need a Nigerian who believes in the unity of this country. We have never been divided the way we are divided now. If God gives us (PDP) the opportunity, we will form a government of national unity where everybody will be involved.”
Wike told the delegates that he was the best PDP aspirant that has the capacity to secure electoral victory for the party and implement policies that will truly rescue Nigeria.
According to him, PDP and indeed, Nigerians need somebody who can face the APC squarely in the 2023 general election and give the country a new direction in which safety of life is guaranteed.
“There is a war you go and you know the kind of soldiers you send and the general that will be the commander. In this kind of fight now, it is me that can fight it.
“What PDP is looking for is who can make us win the election. If we don’t win this election, PDP is gone. I’m tired of this opposition. I am the only aspirant who has what it takes to win this election for PDP.
“And when we win the presidential election in February, 2023, we will win Kebbi in March. And I am going to give you all the support that you require.”
The Rivers State governor reminded the delegates that first of all, there has to be a party before anybody can run election, and most of those seeking to fly the party’s presidential flag had in the past abandoned it to die, but people like him stayed back to build the party and make it once again formidable.
“I was one of the people who stood firm, who made sure that this party didn’t die. There are those who fought this party in 2015 to make us lose the election. If we didn’t lose the election, will we not be in opposition now?
“We have worked hard and a labourer deserves his wages as it is in the holy book. I have worked for this party. So, nobody will say that I did not work for this party.”
In his remarks, Kebbi State PDP chieftain and Chairman of Forum of former PDP Ministers, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN, noted the enormous burden of insecurity on Nigeria that requires a courageous leader to handle.
“Today in Nigeria, we have problem of insecurity. We have problem with the economy. We have poverty. We have hunger. We have restlessness. We have joblessness. There is problem of lack of justice. There is a problem of lack of fairness.
“In short, there is leadership failure and so when we talk of 2023, we should be talking of the survival of Nigeria as one united and indissoluble nation.
“We need a leader that has capacity to take very decisive decisions. Wike has that capacity. We need a leader that is capable of building the diverse and strong bridges of friendship across the divide, Wike has that capacity.
“We need a leader that is consummate and cosmopolitan, Wike is the person. We need a leader that is educated. Wike is educated.”

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ASUU Strike: Protests Rock South West, Edo

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Students of different universities in Ondo State on Monday staged a protest to register their displeasure over the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The protesting students blocked the Ilesha-Akure Expressway in Akure, chanting different solidarity songs.
They wielded placards with different inscriptions such as ‘ End ASUU strike,’ ‘Save our future,’ and FG, we’ve had enough,’ among others.
The protesters included students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko; Olusegun Agagu University of Technology, Okitipupa; and the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
The protest caused traffic gridlock on the highway with many travellers and motorists stranded while some motorists had to take alternative routes to their destinations.
Speaking on the protest, the Vice Chairman, National Association of University Students, Ondo Chapter, Shittu Afolarin, stated that the move became imperative after it was discovered that the Federal Government was not concerned about the plight of students.
Meanwhile, in  Osun State, protest by some students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, organised by Great Ife Concerned Students in collaboration with Fund Education Coalition against strike, resumed on Monday as the protesters blocked some major roads in the state.
The protesters had initially blocked Ife-Ede Road, and later moved to Ipetumodu and blocked Ife-Ibadan, Ilesa-Akure roads in front of Oduduwa University, thereby preventing vehicular movement.
The leader of the protesters, Omowumi Abraham, popularly known as Ewatee, said a vehicle conveying two soldiers heading towards Gbongan-Ibadan end from Ipetumodu, had forced its way through their barricade.
She said two other vehicles also conveying soldiers heading towards same direction were however prevented from going through and were forced to make a detour.
Students in Ogun State also on Monday blocked the Sagamu-Benin Expressway in protest against the ongoing strike.
The joint protest had in attendance students from OOU, Ago-Iwoye; Tai Solarin University of Education, Science and Technology, Ijagun and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.
The students reportedly stormed the TASUED axis and blocked the expressway, leaving many motorists stranded and travellers trapped.
Speaking at the protest ground, the Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Students in the state, Damilola Simeon, appealed to the Federal Government to respond urgently to the yearnings of ASUU.
The President, Student Union Government of TASUED, Don Ayomide, also said the protest was necessary to let the Federal Government and ASUU be aware of the plight of Nigerian students.
Reacting to the students’ protest, ASUU Chairman, FUNAAB, , Dr Gbenga Adeleye, told newsmen that the students had a right to quality education, saying that they were not happy with the ongoing strike.

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WASSCE 2022: WAEC Advises Principals, Supervisors To Shun Exam Malpractice

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The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) have advised principals and supervisors to shun any act capable of undermining the integrity of the ongoing May/June 2022 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Specifically, the principals and supervisors, who are in charge of the conduct of WASSCE 2022, were warned to eschew any form of examination malpractice.
The advise was given by the Deputy Registrar/Zonal Coordinator of WAEC, Abuja, Mr. Ambrose Okelezo, during the briefing of principals and supervisors on the conduct of WASSCE for school candidates.
The principals of recognized secondary schools and nominated senior teachers, who would serve as supervisors were briefed in the Federal Capital Territory FCT) in two locations ahead of the school exam at Gwagwalada and Maitama.
Okelezo informed the principals of their expected roles and warned them to eschew any form of examination malpractice.
He also advised them to educate their students on the rules and regulations governing the conduct of the school exam and teachers (invigilators) not to bring in GSM phones into the exam hall and to stay within the rules guiding invigilation of the examination.
Okelezo also pleaded with the principals and supervisors to be always available in their schools and provide sanitisers, nose masks and ensure strict compliance with all COVID- 19 protocols.
The WAEC zonal coordinator urged them to use the CIVAPEMS devices for the capturing of attendance of candidates.
He briefed the supervisors on their roles, which is the conduct of examination on behalf of the council, following certain guidelines as stipulated by WAEC.
The principals and supervisors were trained on the usage of CIVAPEMS, a device used in the verification of candidates Identities, capturing of attendance.
The deputy registrar also advised the supervisors to shun any act capable of undermining the integrity of the examination.
Various speakers at the workshop such the Director, Education Resource Centre (ERC) in the FCT, Hajia Neemart Abdulraham, ANCOPSS Chairman in the FCT, Adam Bello Gupa, thanked WAEC for organising the workshop and they took turns to admonish participants on the need to follow the rules and regulations as rolled out by WAEC and conduct a malpractice-free examination in the FCT.
A total of 777 participants, made up of 377 principals and 407 supervisors participated in the workshop.
The workshop was concluded with the information on some innovations rolled out by the council such WAEC Chatbox, the platform for gaining access to WAEC services online real-time through www.request.waec.org.
WAEC verify- which provides online access to tertiary institutions and other establishments to WAEC database for the verification of prospective students/applicants results.
Others include EDUSTAT- which enables interested stakeholders to access WAEC statistics online, Computer-Based Test Series- which offers a reliable and robust CBT and Aptitude Test Services.
The participants resolved to work together to ensure a successful conduct of the school exam in FCT.

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