Connect with us


Airlines Oppose Abuja Airport Closure



  • Airlines Oppose Abuja Airport Closure

The Federal Government on Thursday explained to aviation stakeholders why the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja must be shut for six weeks beginning from March 8 in order to carry out repairs on its runway and taxi ways.

But despite the explanation made by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, at a stakeholders’ meeting, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, an umbrella body for carriers in the country, opposed the move by the government to shut the NAIA.

The Federal Government had earlier stated that during the closure of the Abuja airport, passenger traffic and flight activities would be diverted to the Kaduna International Airport for the six-week period, a development that would lead to the screening of air travellers twice, in Abuja and Kaduna.

In a bid to get the inputs of stakeholders, the Federal Government convened an industry-wide meeting on Thursday, which had in attendance different security agencies’ officials, representatives of foreign embassies in Nigeria, international airline operators and their domestic counterparts, legislators, the governments of Kaduna, Kwara and Niger states, as well as other participants.

However, in its submission after an elaborate presentation by the minister, the AON declared that it was in support of the rehabilitation of the NAIA runway, but stressed that the facility should be repaired at night without necessarily shutting down the airport completely for six weeks.

Speaking on behalf of the airline operators, the Chairman, AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison, argued that the Kaduna airport might not be ready to carry the volume of traffic that hits Abuja on a daily basis, among other issues.

He said, “We are in total support of the rehabilitation of the Abuja runway, which is long overdue and is becoming a safety issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. But the AON, on the other side, is of the view that shutting the runway is not the best for now.

“We believe that the runway can be repaired at night, like what is done in other countries. A case study is the Gatwick Airport, which handles 400,000 passengers annually, far higher than what Abuja handles. Or alternatively, the runway in Abuja is 3,900 metres and if you split it into two, you will get roughly 2,000 metres.”

Meggison added, “With 2,000 metres of runway, they can fix one side for three or four weeks and come back to the other side. With 2,000 metres of runway, a 737 aircraft can comfortably get into it for a one-hour flight; and a DRJ, Dash-8 and domestic carriers can come in. International carriers can go to Lagos and Kano, and we distribute for them, like what is done anywhere in the world.”

“We also believe that Kaduna may not be too ready for this and for the volume of passengers that will be coming through that airport.”

In response to the AON’s position, the minister said the government would have worked at night on the Abuja airport if the level of dilapidation of the facility was just on the surface of the runway and taxi ways.

Sirika said, “But right now, all the four-level structures on that runway are completely gone. It is completely dilapidated. What was done in Gatwick was done for six months, but we are doing six weeks of closure to be able to attend to the critical parts of that runway.

“This working at night without disruption of flights is what we have been doing for 14 years on that runway and we have been achieving the same result. To stop spending billions and getting the same result, we engaged a wide range of engineers, who advised that it be closed and a complete and thorough job be done on the runway.”

The minister explained that the lifespan of the Abuja runway had been exceeded by 14 years without adequate maintenance as opposed to that of the Gatwick Airport, which receives constant maintenance.

He stressed that the Abuja runway might be forced to shut down on its own, as was the case of the Port Harcourt airport runway some years ago, a development that grounded flight activities in the state for two and half years.

On logistics being put in place for travellers to use the Kaduna airport, Sirika said N1.1bn had been approved by the Federal Government for its rehabilitation and that work on the facility would be completed before March 8.

He said Abuja passengers would board free buses to and from the Kaduna airport, adding that security would be provided by aviation security personnel, police, Ministry of Defence, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Kaduna State Government.

Sirika explained that military and police officers would be stationed on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway during the six-week period, and that there would be train and helicopter services for passengers who could afford them.

On claims that the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria would close its services during the period, the minister stated this was a lie, adding that he had met with the personnel of the high commission and they had refuted the allegation.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq,, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

Continue Reading

Company News

ExxonMobil Affirms Commitment to Nigeria Amid Divestment Speculations




Shane Harris, the Managing Director of ExxonMobil Nigeria, has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to its operations in Nigeria.

Addressing the speculation surrounding ExxonMobil’s proposed divestment of its 100 percent interest in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited, Harris made it clear that ExxonMobil is not planning to exit the Nigerian market.

Harris conveyed this assurance during a meeting with Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), in Abuja.

This meeting, highlighted in a statement released by Nneamaka Okafor, the Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the petroleum minister, emphasized ExxonMobil’s plans for significant new investments in Nigeria’s energy sector.

“During the meeting, Mr. Harris hinted at significant new investments that ExxonMobil is injecting into Nigeria’s energy sector,” the statement read. “He expressed confidence in the renewed relationship between ExxonMobil and the Nigerian government, assuring the government that the oil giant is not planning to leave Nigeria.”

Harris underscored the importance of ExxonMobil’s partnership with the Nigerian government, stating, “We are excited about the prospects these new investments bring. Our partnership with the Nigerian government is crucial for sustainable growth, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration as we have no plan to leave.”

In response, Lokpobiri reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to enhancing production and fostering a conducive environment for investors in the energy sector.

He emphasized the ministry’s focus on creating collaborations and sharing innovative ideas with international oil companies.

“We are dedicated to ramping up production and ensuring a supportive environment for all investors by doing everything possible to maintain investor confidence in our country,” Lokpobiri said.

He also commended the ExxonMobil team for their commitment to the Nigerian oil and gas sector, noting that it aligned perfectly with the nation’s objectives.

“ExxonMobil’s planned investments are commendable and greatly appreciated. This renewed relationship is a testament to the mutual goals we share for the future of our energy sector,” the minister added.

The discussions between ExxonMobil and the Nigerian government also touched on the ministry’s support for international and independent oil operators.

Lokpobiri assured Harris of the government’s support, emphasizing the importance of creating a thriving environment for all stakeholders.

“We fully support ExxonMobil and other international oil companies, just as we do with independent operators. Our collaborative efforts are key to the sustainable growth of our energy sector,” Lokpobiri stated.

This development comes after months of uncertainty surrounding ExxonMobil’s assets in Nigeria.

On May 31, 2024, it was reported that Nigeria might add 480,000 barrels to its daily crude oil output as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and ExxonMobil moved towards resolving their disagreements over the sale of ExxonMobil’s assets to Seplat Energy.

The NNPC had signed a settlement agreement with ExxonMobil regarding the proposed divestment, following intervention by President Bola Tinubu to resolve the crisis that had led to substantial production losses.

Lokpobiri previously stated that Nigeria had lost about $30 billion over the past two and a half years due to the Seplat/ExxonMobil crisis, with a daily loss of around 480,000 barrels of crude oil.

Despite the challenges, the recent affirmations from ExxonMobil and the Nigerian government signal a renewed commitment to the country’s energy sector and a positive outlook for future collaborations and investments.

Continue Reading

Company News

Dangote Refinery Struggles Amid Alleged IOC Sabotage, Calls for Government Support



Dangote refinery

Devakumar Edwin, Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), has accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria of undermining the operations of Dangote Oil Refinery and Petrochemicals.

Edwin claims that these IOCs are deliberately obstructing the refinery’s efforts to purchase local crude oil by inflating prices above market rates, compelling the refinery to import crude from as far afield as the United States at significant additional costs.

Speaking at a one-day training programme for Energy Editors organized by the Dangote Group, Edwin expressed his frustration over the challenges faced by the refinery.

“While the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) is trying their best to allocate crude to us, the IOCs are deliberately frustrating our efforts to buy local crude. They are either asking for an excessive premium or claiming crude is unavailable. At one point, we paid $6 above the market price, forcing us to reduce output and import crude, increasing our production costs,” Edwin lamented.

The refinery, which began production recently, has exported over 3.5 billion liters of fuel, representing 90% of its output.

However, Edwin warned that the IOCs seem intent on ensuring that Nigeria remains dependent on imported refined petroleum products by exporting raw materials to their home countries and re-importing the refined products, thereby creating employment and wealth abroad while Nigeria grapples with unemployment and economic challenges.

Edwin also criticized the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) for indiscriminately issuing licenses to importers, leading to an influx of substandard, high-sulfur diesel and other refined products into Nigeria.

“Despite our compliance with ECOWAS regulations and standards, dirty diesel from Russia is being dumped into the Nigerian market. This has serious health implications for Nigerians,” he stated.

In recent months, reports from Agence-France Presse highlighted the detrimental impact of these imports, with high-sulfur fuels linked to carcinogenic effects.

European countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have already banned the export of such fuels to West Africa, citing their harmful impact on air quality and public health.

Edwin urged the Nigerian government and regulators to provide necessary support to ensure the refinery’s success.

“The Federal Government issued 25 licenses to build refineries, and we are the only one that delivered on our promise. We deserve every support from the government to create jobs and prosperity for the nation,” he asserted.

He also appealed to the National Assembly to expedite the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to safeguard Nigeria’s interests and ensure that the country’s refining capacity is fully utilized.

“Ghana has banned the importation of highly contaminated diesel and petrol into their country through legislation. It is regrettable that, in Nigeria, import licenses are granted despite knowing that we have the capacity to produce nearly double the amount of products needed domestically and export the surplus,” Edwin concluded.

The Dangote Refinery’s predicament underscores the broader challenges facing Nigeria’s energy sector, where regulatory and market dynamics continue to pose significant hurdles for local enterprises striving to boost domestic production and reduce dependence on imports.

Continue Reading


Experts Predict Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones Could Generate More Than N11.11tn



lekki free Zone

Economic experts are optimistic about the potential of Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones (FTZs) to boost the nation’s economy significantly.

According to recent analysis, these zones could generate more than the N11.11 trillion they have already remitted to the Federation Account as of October 2023.

The Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Muda Yusuf, said the FTZs will help facilitate forex.

“Nigeria’s urgent need for foreign exchange necessitates leveraging our free zones to enhance non-oil export revenue and reduce dependency on crude oil earnings,” Yusuf stated.

He pointed out the success stories of other countries, notably Dubai, which has effectively utilized its free zones to generate foreign exchange and attract significant investments.

“Our free zones must strive to do more, as we are still heavily reliant on oil and gas for our foreign exchange earnings. Increased investment in these areas is crucial,” he added.

Supporting this perspective, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Olufemi Ogunyemi, recently highlighted the economic contributions of the FTZs while addressing the Senate Committee on Industry, Trade, and Investment.

Ogunyemi noted that these zones have created substantial wealth for the states hosting them and generated significant revenue for various agencies.

“Agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, the Immigration Services, and the Nigerian Ports Authority have seen revenues of N59.38 billion, N828.7 million, and N8.738 billion, respectively, while states have received N998 million in Pay As You Earn (PAYE) remittances,” Ogunyemi reported.

He also highlighted the broader impact of the FTZs, noting that as of the end of 2023, the 46 licensed zones had provided 38,429 direct jobs and an additional 172,930 indirect jobs.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $491.8 million and local direct investment amounting to N1.15 trillion have flowed into these zones, with N1.62 trillion worth of cargo imported from 2019 to 2023, saving scarce foreign exchange.

David Adonri, Vice President of Highcap Securities Limited, praised NEPZA’s achievements, suggesting that the government use these successes to encourage more Nigerians to start manufacturing businesses within the FTZs.

“The remittances from the free trade zones are commendable and should be a marketing tool to attract more investments,” Adonri said.

However, some experts believe there is room for improvement. Professor Olusegun Ajibola of Babcock University argued that while the remittances are noteworthy, they are not yet at a level worth celebrating.

“The government needs to intensify efforts in revenue generation from these zones as they were established at a significant cost to the host states,” Ajibola remarked.

He called for a review of the 32-year-old NEPZA Act to address any challenges and enhance the performance of the FTZs.

As Nigeria continues to seek ways to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on oil, the FTZs present a promising avenue. With strategic investments and robust management, these zones could indeed surpass their current contributions, fostering economic growth and stability for the nation.

Continue Reading