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Rich Nigerians Besiege Banks With Bales Of Cash 

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Just days after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the redesign of the N1,000, N500 and N200 notes, with a directive that the current notes be remitted to the commercial banks, wealthy individuals and organisations with huge cash stashed away have begun depositing them.
Reports from the operations department of many commercial banks have it that though there is yet to be any rush by customers, there was a gradual increase in the volume of cash and amounts being remitted by customers.
The Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, while announcing the issuance of the new naira notes on October 26, said bank customers should start paying their current notes to enable them to withdraw the new bank notes once circulation begins on December 15, 2022.
Emefiele said the apex bank had become concerned over some daunting challenges in the management of the existing bank notes in circulation, especially those outside the banking system, noting that such portend some consequences for the integrity of the CBN and the country.
Among the challenges that informed the decision, he lamented, was the “significant hoarding” of the banknotes in which case N2.73tn out of the N3.23tn currency in circulation as of September 2022 was outside the vaults of the commercial banks across the country.
He also cited the worsening shortage of clean and fit banknotes; increasing ease and risk of counterfeiting evidenced by several security reports and compliance with global standard to circulate new legal tender every five to eight years.
He noted further that the naira redesign would help to rein in the currency outside the banking system and make its monetary policies more efficacious, deepen its cashless economy drive and minimise incidents of terrorism and kidnapping as the access to large sums used for ransom payment.

“On the basis of these trends, problems, and facts set out above, and in line with provisions of Sections 2(b), section 18(a) , and section 19, Subsections a and b of the CBN Act 2007, the Management of the CBN has sought and obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to redesign, produce, release and circulate new series of banknotes at N200, N500, and N1,000 levels.

“In line with this approval, we have finalised arrangements for the new currency to begin circulation from December 15, 2022 after its launch by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The new and existing currencies shall remain legal tender and circulate together until January 31, 2023 when the existing currencies shall cease to be legal tender”, he noted.

Meanwhile, interactions with many bank staff have indicated that individuals have begun depositing huge cash sums stashed away with the commercial banks.

A top banker with one of the first generation banks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was a gradual increase in the sums of money being deposited by some customers.

“We have seen an increase in the amount being brought to some of our branches by some customers”, the source said.

On the highest amount an individual had remitted so far, the source, who heads a branch of the bank in Oshodi, Lagos, said, “The amounts vary, but we have seen people bring between N5m and N20m cash. It’s only rich customers that can have huge sums stashed away. The poor live on daily income and can hardly have enough to save”.

He said it was easy to identify the money stashed away for a long time because of the smell, the dates on them and other elements he refused to disclose.

“There are ways to identify them, but I don’t want to go into that because the focus of the CBN policy is to rein in the volume of cash in circulation. The regulators would deal with the rest”, he stated.

The branch manager of another first generation bank in Ikoyi area of Lagos confirmed to newsmen that there was already a rise in the amount of cash being deposited by some customers.

She said, “The normal deposit by average income earners and businesses continues, but some customers have been coming with huge sums to deposit. We have seen some persons bring N2m cash and there have been higher and lesser amounts respectively from some other branches”.

Meanwhile, a senior staff at the headquarters of another first generation bank noted that feedback from some of their branches showed that some customers brought in billions, some in millions and some in hundreds of thousands.

The source said, “When the redesign of the naira was announced, the CBN asked all the banks to report the amount in their vault per day so they could monitor the remittances across board.

“The way it works is that branches route that information through their respective zones and the zones supply the information to the headquarters.

“We have to protect the customers, even if you suspect the possible source of such funds. The information from some of our branches indicate that in the last few days, specifically since October 26 when the CBN made the announcement, there have been individuals who brought in billions while some came to deposit millions.

“From what the CBN Governor said in his briefing, he said about 85 per cent of the cash in circulation was outside the bank vaults”.

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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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