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Stakeholders Laud FG’s Investment Plan for Nigeria Air

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  • Stakeholders Laud FG’s Investment Plan for Nigeria Air

Stakeholders in the aviation industry have commended the Federal Government for the renewed interest in bringing the national carrier project to fruition.

Some of the stakeholders said the Federal Government had taken the right step by including the viability gap funding for the project in the 2019 budget.

Aviation industry consultant, Dr Al-Hameeda Fraser, said there was no reason funds should not be allocated for the realisation of the national carrier project in the 2019 budget, adding that the status of the project was that of an ongoing one which was only placed on hold due to gap funding issues.

According to her, due process stipulates a budget application and allocation for any funding requirement within the government ministries.

“The allocation of funds to ensure the implementation of the project is justifiable. The amount of N47bn is only over a $100m and that is not much in the aviation sector for government ‘s commitment and contribution towards the establishment of a national carrier. It signifies a very small percentage of the funding requirement which would be generated from investors and would provide the much needed confidence to encourage investors on the project,” she stated.

The Federal Government had last week approved N47.43bn for the Nigeria Air project in the 2019 budget, as a viability gap funding of $155m, which the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had explained was in line with the Outline Business Case that would enable the airline to start operations before the introduction of private equity funds.

Fraser said the most important aspect of the allocation was the fact that an OBC had been prepared for the project and the amount was based on the financial dimension and costing model which determined the total cost of funding including generating outline cash flow statements covering the project life.

She noted that the national carrier remained a laudable project and ought to receive the support of all Nigerians.

“It symbolises a gesture of our national rebranding besides justifiable reasons based on facts and figures of the huge traffic of travellers in and out of Nigeria since we are steadily becoming the economic hub of black Africa. So the project is worth whatever the government can afford to contribute towards its immediate implementation and realisation,” she added.

Aviation security expert, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd), said the Federal Government had said it would not have more than 10 per cent share in the airline, adding that the budgeted amount would be appropriate as the government’s contribution to the national carrier.

Ojikutu said, “N47bn is just about $130m and that can only fetch you not more than three fairly used medium-size modern aircraft. The minister said government would not have more than 10 per cent share, so I don’t think the amount is too much as the government’s share contribution.

“According to the minister, we are at the procurement stage where the participant should buy into it; foreign technical investors, Nigerian investors and later the public. Government must drive it not private. However, it is not a government airline but a national airline.”

Industry expert, Mr Tayo Ojuri, said the process was imperative to getting reputable investors with the technical and financial clout to invest in the Nigeria Air project.

He stated that there was still the need to develop a full business case and financial closure process in line with best international practice in Private Public Partnership implementation steps.

The Chairman of the defunct Air Nigeria Limited, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, however, said the Federal Government should have a rethink on the proposed Nigeria Air project.

Ibrahim, in an interview said the only way for the national carrier project to be successful would be for the Federal Government to put systems and structures in place and not to make the airline government-owned or allow the government to lead it.

According to him, if the Federal Government must have an airline, it should consult with the few people who had operated airlines before to know the challenges they faced.

“I will not advise the Nigerian government, a developing country with a debt ratio of that magnitude, servicing 50 per cent of our gross income on debt to start an airline. I mean, that will be very difficult,” he said.

He stated that the idea of a national carrier would only become viable if the government allowed the private sector to drive the entire process.

He said, “The government cannot run an airline, it is not possible. Dubai Emirates airline remunerates about 20 per cent profit to the government. It is owned by the government but managed by the private sector. In this collaborative effort, the private sector takes 70 per cent of the profit and returns 20 per cent to the Dubai government and retains 10 as capital.

“If you do that in Nigeria, people will kill you. If President Muhammadu Buhari says I create Air Nigeria and put $5bn in it. At the end of the month, I make a profit of $1bn, I take $800m and give government $200m; what do you think will happen? They will burn down the place. They don’t want that. That’s why I said the government cannot run an airline.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

India, Spain, the Netherlands, USA, Nigeria’s Major Export Markets -NBS

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India, Spain and the Netherland top Nigeria’s export markets in the final quarter of 2020, according to the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The Commodity Price Indices and Terms of Trade Q4 2020 report showed that the United States and China trailed the three.

However, the NBS revealed Nigeria exports mainly crude oil and natural gas during the period under review.

It, “The major export and import market of Nigeria in Q4 2020 were India, Spain, the Netherlands, United States and China.

“The major export to these countries were crude petroleum and natural gas. The major imports from the countries were motor spirits, used vehicles, motorcycles and antibiotics.”

The bureau stated that the all-commodity group import index increased by 0.13 per cent between October and December 2020.

This was driven mainly by an increase in the prices of base metals and articles of base metals (one per cent), boilers, machinery and appliances; parts thereof (1.03 per cent), and products of the chemical and allied industries (0.75 per cent),” it stated.

The NBS, however, noted that the index was negatively affected by animal and vegetable fats and oils and other cleavage products.

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Economy

Onyeama: Qatar To Invest $5bn In Nigeria’s Economy

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The oil-rich state of Qatar is to invest a total of $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyeama, has disclosed.

Onyeama, who spoke Sunday at a send forth dinner in honour of Nigeria’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Qatar, who is also the outgoing Director of Protocol (DOP) at the State House, Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed, also stated that recent career ambassadorial appointments made by the gederal government was based on merit, experience and professionalism.

The minister further said there had been discussions with Qatar on partnership with Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), for significant investments in the region of $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.

According to him, ‘‘Qatar is a weighty and strategic country and very strategic in that part of the world and we are putting our best feet forward to advance the interest of our country economically and in other areas.”

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had visited the State of Qatar in 2016 and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, reciprocated with a State visit in 2019.

Onyeama also explained that only trusted hands with a track record of diligence, experience and professionalism in the Foreign Service were recently appointed career ambassadors by the federal government.

The minister said the appointment of Ahmed and other career ambassadors were predicated on posting dedicated and keen Foreign Service practitioners to serve as image makers of the country.

He said: ‘‘Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed is a dedicated professional with a penchant for rigour and detail. He is very capable and one of the best in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is personable, affable, extremely friendly, dispassionate and objective.

‘‘He is going to head a very important mission, a very important country, reckoned to be one of the richest countries in the world, per capita, and there’s a lot we will be doing with the State of Qatar.”

Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adeola Rahman Ipaye, described the honoree as a ‘‘perfect gentleman, very even-natured and always well turned out’’.

Ipaye said he had no doubt that the newly appointed ambassador would serve the country well in Qatar, adding that: ‘‘We are further encouraged that when he completes this assignment, he would return to serve Nigeria in a higher capacity.’’

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, while congratulating the outgoing DOP on his appointment, lauded Ahmed for excellent service to the State House and the nation.

‘‘He served this institution and the nation with the deepest sense of responsibility and it is very important that we establish a tradition where the system appreciates those who have served it well and those who will continue to serve it well,’’ he said.

Umar urged the new envoy to keep very fond memories of his time at the Presidential Villa, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of all the staff.

Responding, Ahmed thanked President Buhari for the great honour and privilege of making him his principal representative in Doha, Qatar.

The Ambassador-designate pledged to deplore his energy and skill to the promotion of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Qatar, particularly in the areas of economic, political, cultural and consular affairs as well as other key areas.

Ahmed, who joined Nigeria’s Foreign Service in 1993, said during his years in public service he had learnt that ‘‘patriotism, selfless service, diligence, determination and perseverance will always result in the achievement of the desired objective’’.

According to him, these virtues would be his ‘‘watchword’’ in the pursuit of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and the attainment of national interests.

The Ambassador-designate singled out for appreciation the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the state Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, saying he had learnt a lot working under their mentorship.

He expressed gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, State House for giving him the opportunity of a memorable work experience in the State House.

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Economy

France, Nigeria to Build New Partnership

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France is currently aiming at building a new partnership with Nigeria, with the dispatching of its Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, to Nigeria.

Riester, who was expected at the time of filing this report on Monday, is scheduled to visit Nigeria from 12-14 April, 2021.

A statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria said: “Franck Riester is visiting Nigeria from 12 to 14 April, a visit that follows up on the priorities set by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his desire to build a new partnership between Africa and France.

“As the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France, the first in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral trade amounting to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”

It disclosed that the minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, in order to underline the importance of the bilateral economic relationship and to prepare the summit on the financing of African economies in Paris on 18 May.

It revealed that the objective of the mission is also to further strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors, and “in this regard, the minister will have in-depth discussions with the main Nigerian economic actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investments, both in Nigeria and in France, particularly in the logistics sector”.

It said while in the country, the minister would meet with young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries sector, to discuss the major role of their country in African creativity and the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the support of France.

It further said: “The minister will also open the ‘Choose Africa’ conference, a €3.5 billion initiative by President Emmanuel Macron dedicated to supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs in Africa to enable the continent to benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital revolution.”

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