- FG Unveils New National Carrier, Nigeria Air, Targets 81 Routes
The Federal Government on Wednesday unveiled the branding and livery for the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, and stated that the airline would be inaugurated at the end of this year.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Aviation in Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, unveiled the carrier at a press conference during the Farnborough Air Show in London.
Sirika was quoted as saying, “I am very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country, Nigeria Air. We are all fully committed to fulfilling the campaign promise made by our President, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015. We are aiming to launch Nigeria Air by the end of this year.
“We obtained the Certificate of Compliance from the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission two weeks ago and can now go into the investor search. I am confident that we will have a well-run national flag carrier that is a global player, compliant with international safety standards and one which has the customer at its heart.
“We hope to establish an airline that communicates the essence of our beautiful country; an airline we can all be proud of.”
The ministry said the branding and naming of the new national carrier came after a social media campaign that was undertaken by the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation).
It said invited Nigerian youths were asked for their input in order to come up with a name for the new flag carrier, adding that the ministry’s Facebook page and website engaged over 400,000 people.
The ministry said extensive market research was carried out, which involved focus groups across the country, and over 100 interviews with aviation stakeholders and professionals, politicians as well as business owners.
It also stated that it was currently running an aviation road map that includes airport concession, aerotropolis, an aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul centre, agro allied terminals, the national carrier and an aircraft leasing company.
“The government will support the launch of the new flag carrier with viability gap funding in a public private partnership arrangement to deliver a national flag carrier guided by international standards,” the ministry added.
Sirika said the Federal Government had learnt a lot of lessons from the experience of the defunct Nigeria Airways, and was now determined not to repeat the mistakes that led to its demise.
Meanwhile, Sirika has stated that the Federal Government has selected 81 routes for the commencement of operation of Nigeria Air.
Speaking at the Farnborough Airshow in London following the unveiling of the new national carrier, the minister was quoted to have said that for a start, the airline would operate 40 domestic, regional and sub-regional and 41 international routes.
He added that the airline would operate on a Public-Private Partnership model, while investors and strategic partners would decide who would run it.
He said, “This airline is a business and not a social service. It is not intended to kill any airline in Nigeria but complement it and promote it. It must be done in the right way so that it will be here to stay.
“Government will not hold shares beyond five per cent at the topmost. This airline has the backing of the government. Government will come up with funding according to the business case that has been delivered to the government. We will engage the youth of Nigeria because we do believe in the ‘Not Too Young to Run’.
“We engaged them in the campaign to name this airline. We engaged 400,000 Nigerian youths to arrive at the name of the airline. All of their ideas were taken and digested and we came up with what is an average. The airline will take into cognizance the multicultural nature of the nation through its diversity. We want to use this airline to make a statement that yes, we can do it.”
The minister also said the government would fast-track the airline’s International Air Transport Association’s membership and safety audit.
An aviation expert, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd), however, stated that the Federal Government’s route plan was not properly thought out.
He said the routes were already saturated with the new airline’s competitors, adding that this might stifle its growth.
“Whoever is planning these routes for the new national carrier should go into records and see what happened along same routes between Nigeria Airways and KLM; Nigeria Airways and South Africa Airways and Nigeria and Virgin Atlantic. You cannot go into the same business with your competitor(s) as partners,” he said.
Nigeria’s Natural Gas Production Declines Despite N250bn Intervention Fund
Despite the injection of a N250 billion intervention fund into the gas sector, Nigeria witnessed a downturn in natural gas production last year, raising concerns about the effectiveness of the financial stimulus.
The Energy Institute, in collaboration with KPMG, unveiled an industry report revealing a notable drop of 4 billion cubic feet meters in Nigeria’s natural gas production between 2021 and 2022.
While Nigeria’s gas production demonstrated consistent growth from 39 billion cubic feet meters in 2012 to 49 billion cubic feet meters in 2020, the trajectory abruptly shifted to a decline, reaching 45 billion cubic meters in 2021 and further slipping to 40 billion cubic meters last year.
The Federal Government’s intervention included a N250 billion fund, facilitated through the Central Bank of Nigeria, with N130 billion earmarked for 15 selected companies for the construction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) conversion centers.
This initiative, part of the National Gas Expansion Program (NGEP), aimed to promote CNG as the preferred fuel for transportation and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for domestic cooking, captive power, and small industrial complexes.
The 15 recipient companies, including prominent names like Dangote Oil Refinery, Nipco Gas Ltd, and Greenville Liquefied Natural Gas Company, received a combined N130 billion.
However, despite this financial injection, the natural gas production figures tell a different story.
Chinedu Okoronkwo, President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, expressed dissatisfaction with the exclusion of his members from the loan, stating that inclusion would have accelerated the conversion of over one million vehicles to CNG models.
The Senate Committee on Gas, chaired by Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, has summoned the 15 companies to provide progress reports on the projects funded by the intervention.
As Nigeria aims for substantial investment in the gas value chain, these revelations raise questions about the efficacy and impact of financial interventions in the country’s critical sectors.
Experts Urge Swift Government Action on Nigeria’s Untapped N3 Trillion Logistics Sector
Experts at the Courier and Logistics Management Institute conference in Lagos have emphasized the critical importance of the overlooked logistics, courier, and transport sector in Nigeria, valued at over N3 trillion.
During the event themed “Logistics Solutions and National Infrastructure Development,” the CLMI Executive Chairman, Prof. Simon Emeje, highlighted the urgent need for the federal government to prioritize this sector, which remains relatively untapped on a global scale.
Emeje underscored the sector’s significance, stating, “Any country that does not pay attention to logistics, courier, and the transport sector cannot survive.
The government must not ignore this sector because it is the bedrock of any economy.”
The logistics, courier, transport, and management industry boasts an average asset worth over N3 trillion, offering substantial potential for job creation.
Emeje emphasized that commerce is crippled without effective logistics, illustrating the importance of the sector in facilitating trade, enhancing the supply chain, creating jobs, and propelling economic growth.
Despite its undeniable importance, the Nigerian logistics sector faces hindrances such as infrastructural deficits and weak government policies, preventing it from reaching its full potential.
Emeje called for immediate attention to address these challenges and unlock the sector’s capacity to create millions of employment opportunities for Nigerian youth.
Former Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, urged the institute to draft a comprehensive proposal for government adoption, offering assistance in facilitating engagement.
Both Shittu and Prof. Emeje called on the Federal Government to establish a dedicated ministry to foster an enabling environment for Courier and Logistics Management, drawing parallels to the recognition given to the entertainment industry.
President Tinubu Seeks Senate Approval for $8.6 Billion and €100 Million Borrowing Plan
President Bola Tinubu’s administration has formally requested the approval of the Nigerian Senate for a borrowing plan totaling $8.6 billion and €100 million.
The request was presented to the Senate through a letter read during the plenary by the Senate President, GodsWill Akpabio.
According to the letter, the proposed funds are integral to the federal government’s 2022-2024 external borrowing plan, previously sanctioned by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu clarified that the projects earmarked for funding through this loan cut across diverse sectors, emphasizing their selection based on rigorous economic evaluations and their anticipated contributions to national development.
The letter highlighted, “The projects and programs in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.”
The specified sectors earmarked for development include infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation, along with financial management reforms.
The borrowing plan’s comprehensive approach aims to address critical needs and propel the nation’s progress.
President Tinubu emphasized the urgency of the Senate’s approval, stating, “Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government to deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
This appeal follows previous successful requests, including the National Assembly’s approval of an over $800 million loan for the National Social Safety Network Programme in August.
Also, the assembly greenlighted the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Act of N819 million to provide palliatives to Nigerians, mitigating the impact of fuel subsidy removal.
As the deliberations unfold, the Senate’s decision on this substantial borrowing plan will play a pivotal role in shaping Nigeria’s economic trajectory.
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