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‘Flight Ticket Sales In Dollars’ll Reduce Trapped Funds Backlog’

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There are indications that sale of air tickets in dollars would reduce the backlog of trapped foreign airlines funds in Nigeria, as part of efforts to address the issue.
This development, according to aviation analysts, would put an end to trapped funds in the country and also address the fear of foreign airlines, reducing their frequencies in the country.
An aviation analyst, and flight despatcher, Simeon Uchendu, in an interaction with aviation correspondents, said foreign airlines contribute over 70 per cent of aviation earnings in the country.
He noted that due to the significant rise of their funds trapped in the country over the past one year, they are mulling massive reductions in their frequencies to Nigeria.
According to him, foreign airlines collect Naira for their tickets, and exchange the same for foreign currencies for their operations but they have been lamenting their inability to get the exchange executed through the official foreign exchange market due to the scarcity of foreign exchange resources.
From the revealed analysis on breakdown of the trapped funds as of December 2022, the fund stood at $549 million, and that this later rose to $662 million in January 2023 and is currently at $744 million, which is an increase of 11 per cent when compared to the previous month.
This development, he said, led to suspension of operations by foreign airlines, like the United Arab Emirates flag carrier, the Emirates Airline operating over 21 flights, which suspended its operation indefinitely in Nigeria in October 2022.
Also in a chat with the Director of Research, Kenrich Travels Limited, Mr. Francis Ihenacho, he stressed that the suspension of operations in Nigeria by Emirates Airlines has a spiral effect on the allied services in the country to the airline.
“Apart from the Maintenance Repair and Operate (MRO) firm, other allied organisations to Emirates like hotels, catering services, car hire, security, expatriates, fuelers and other backup companies would be affected by the decision of the airline to quit the Nigerian scene.
“The Federal Government should take a cue from the Zimbabwean government, which allowed the foreign airlines operating in its country to sell tickets in dollars.
“Rather than insisting on naira sales for the airlines, dollar sales would reduce the challenge of blocked funds currently being experienced by the foreign airlines.
“The Federal Government should also merge the black market rate with the official rate, this would reduce the challenge. By and large, we should find a way out of this crisis. Zimbabwe was also affected and it has told the airlines to sell tickets in dollars.
“Even, the fuel suppliers are feeling the pains. Now, the fuel suppliers that refused to collect naira from Emirates are now collecting zero naira and zero dollars.
“So, we are all feeling the pain. I think the Nigerian oil companies should have collected naira, rather than insisting in dollars from Emirates and today, everybody on that value chain that gained from the services of Emirates are all down without jobs”, he noted.

By: Corlins Walter

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FG Launches Blueprint For Africa’s Digital Trade

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched a comprehensive strategy to spearhead Africa’s digital trade revolution, aligning with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) framework.
The initiative, a key component of President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, is aimed at leveraging trade as a driver of economic growth and continental unity in accordance with AfCFTA’s objectives.
According to Vice President Kashim Shettima, in his X handle (formerly twitter), “Nigeria is in a unique position to spearhead the continent’s technological transformation”.
He said the strategy includes implementing AfCFTA’s Digital Trade Protocol, developing technical talent hubs, enhancing digital infrastructure investments, and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
Shettima stated this while delivering a keynote address during a stakeholders’ summit with the theme, “Digital Trade in Africa: The Renewed Hope Strategy”, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Vice President emphasised the need for public-private sector synergy and assured continued government investment in digital infrastructure and human capital development.
On his part, the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijjani, highlighted the Tinubu administration’s substantial investments in all aspects of the digital trade protocol, aiming at harnessing opportunities both in Nigeria and across the continent.
He stated that innovative policies and programmes, such as the Three Million Technical Talent programme, the data protection policy, and increased investments in digital infrastructure, were equipping Nigeria’s young population for current and future opportunities.
Tijjani stressed the critical role of technology in facilitating trade across Africa, noting that the unprecedented opportunities within the single market area could be best leveraged through effective collaboration and networking enabled by digital technology.

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Oil Bearing Communities Okay Exploration In Ogoni Adopt Indigenous Company

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A body under the auspices of Ogoni Oil Bearing Communities has resolved that oil exploration should commence in Ogoni.
The body also adopted an indigenous company, Ogoni Royal Resources and Energy Limited, to operate the Ogoni oil fields located within the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11.
The adoption followed a motion moved by a prominent community leader in the area, Chief Sylvester Kogbara, during a meeting of Ogoni oil producing communities, at Kpite, in Tai Local Government Area of the State.
The decision of the body to adopt an Ogoni indigenous company to explore oil in Ogoni was  taken by the stakeholders after a motion by Chief Sylvester Kogbara from Bodo Community, based on the provisions of the Local Content Act which empowers indigenous firms to participate in oil exploration activities.
Kogbara said: “That the Ogoni Royal Resources and Energy Limited has been adopted as the only indigenous company to mine, process, export and extract oil and gas from Ogoniland. I so move”.
In his address at the meeting, President of Ogoni Oil Bearing Communities (OOBC), Chief Donald Gberesuu, described as unfortunate, the plights and act of marginalisation of the oil bearing communities in the area in the scheme of things perpetrated by certain Ogonis he described as “greedy”, and the Nigerian government.
Gberesuu said: “The plights and act of marginalisation of the Ogoni Oil Bearing Communities in the scheme of things by certain greedy Ogonis and the Nigerian State, is quite unfortunate.
“The oil bearing communities are not subservient and shall not relegate our responsibilities to middlemen and interrupters who are fronting greed and usurpation of common opportunities.
“The Ogoni oil bearing communities hold title to our lands as individuals and as community who should decide the usage of their land, in respect of the oil beneat”.
The body cautioned against division in the rank and file of Ogoni and called for unity of purpose among the people to actualise the objectives of the Ogoni struggle.
Earlier in his remark, the host of the meeting, HRM, King  Samuel Nnee, had declared that the meeting was for the Oil bearing communities to deliberate on issues of development concern, especially on oil exploration resumption in Ogoni.

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Customs Alerts Nigerians On Online Auction, Recruitment Fraudsters 

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has warned the public to be wary of  fraudsters using the name of the Service to perpetrate illegal activities on the social media.
Speaking against the background of advertorials on the social media by some unknown persons indicating that the NCS is currently auctioning some seized items, including vehicles and essential items.
In a statement by the National Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Maiwada, the NCS said the fraudsters have been exploiting public trust and ignorance to promote fictitious auctions and sham recruitment exercises supposedly endorsed by the Service.
It stated that, “The attention of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has been brought to the escalating activities of fraudulent entities preying on unsuspecting individuals through social media platforms, falsely claiming association with the Service for purposes of auctions and recruitment.
“These individuals exploit public trust and ignorance, promoting fictitious auctions and sham recruitment drives supposedly endorsed by the our service.
“The Service wishes to clarify that auctions of seized/overtime goods are never conducted via social media platforms.
“Any such claims on social media should be treated as fraudulent and promptly reported. All seized/overtime goods have a laid-down Standard Operating Procedure, SOP, for disposal in line with the Nigeria Customs Service Act  2023.
“It is pertinent to state that the only portal for e-auction in NCS is http://auction.nigeriatradehub.gov.ng.
“For authentic updates about the operations of NCS, we strongly encourage the public to verify information exclusively through the NCS website, www.customs.gov.ng.
“Our commitment remains unwavering in protecting the public from fraudulent activities. We implore all Nigerians to exercise vigilance and prudence when approached with unverified offers or announcements as  regards NCS auctions or recruitment”.

“Any suspicious activities should be reported to any nearby customs formations”.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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