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FG Will Help Foreign Airlines to Repatriate $350 Million by December

The speaker of the House of Representatives has assured that foreign airlines will be able to repatriate half of their trapped funds by December 2022.

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The speaker of the House of Representatives has assured that foreign airlines will be able to repatriate half of their trapped funds by December 2022.

Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaking of the House of Representatives, disclosed this at a roundtable discussion with the representatives of foreign airlines operating in Nigeria and other aviation stakeholders.

It will be recalled that foreign airlines in Nigeria under the umbrella of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have accused the Nigerian Government of blocking the repatriation of $700 million accrued to them from the sale of air tickets.

The operators disclosed this in an earlier meeting organised by the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Femi Gbajabiamila noted in yesterday’s meeting that the Federal Government plans to make $350 million available from the total trapped fund of $700 million by the end of the year.

He noted further that it is important for both parties to shift ground so as to have a resolution created for the problem while reiterating that national interest should be of utmost importance.

Also speaking at the meeting, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika noted that the Federal Government will not condone threats or intimidation from any foreign airlines. He stated that foreign airlines should have the courage to come forward and negotiate rather than resorting to blackmail. 

Investors King gathered that the minister added that Nigeria’s airspace will survive if foreign airlines cease operations from Nigeria. He highlights that Nigeria will do better if foreign airlines tow that path.

Hadi Sirika said “Every country, every airline will threaten Nigeria. We will not fly to Nigeria again; we are not given Nigerian visa again. Countries have been shut down completely and they did well. We are not afraid of being shut out. It will help us to do better. We will begin to go to our hospitals and schools”.

Meanwhile, during the submission of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, he disclosed that the CBN has always accorded priority to foreign airlines since 2016.

He noted that the apex bank has always made foreign exchange available to foreign airlines to repatriate their funds. He, therefore, called for understanding while the current challenge is being addressed. 

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Travel

Immigration Service Orders Passport Offices to Work on Saturday

Passport offices to work on Saturdays across the country amid the surge in demand

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Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has directed passport offices across the country to work on Saturday amid the surge in demand for international passports. 

The directive which was contained in a statement released yesterday by the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tony Akuneme, noted that the directive is aimed to enable the Service to reduce the backlog occasioned by the 2020 and 2021 prolonged lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The CG has directed that passport offices across the country with a high volume of pending applications to work on Saturdays. (However), the Saturdays preceding the Christmas and New Year holidays are exempted.

“The period for this exercise is expected to be every Saturday commencing from December 3, 2022, to January 28, 2023, between the period of 10 am and 2 pm,” the statement partly read.

Investors King understands that Nigerians have been going through a long queue while trying to acquire an international passport. In some cases, it could take as long as four to six months.

This long queue has created room for racketeering. A standard passport which normally costs N26,000 is being done at the rate of N50,000. It could be as high as N70,000 to N100,000 in some cities such as Abuja and Lagos.

According to the statement, the Controller-General of the immigration service has also approved the deployment of the Passport Controller in Ekiti to Jigawa, while the one in Ondo was moved to NIS Zonal Office in Ibadan.

The CG added that he will hold passport officers accountable for any acts of indiscipline by officers under their watch.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has cautioned Nigerians on the dangers of irregular migration, so as not to waste their future. 

The CG who gave the advice disclosed that the service will intensify its efforts to sensitize Nigerians on the danger of irregular migration.

He noted that most of the victims are being brainwashed by travel agents who only care about making money from such trips. 

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Passengers Groan as Air Tickets Increase by More than 100%

The price of Jet A1 which was N200 in December 2021 is currently sold at N800 per liter

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Travelers have lamented the arbitrary increase in air tickets. The increase which has now caused one-way tickets from Abuja to Lagos to rise above N150,00 has been blamed on the scarcity of aviation fuel also known as Jet A1. 

The price of Jet A1 which was N200 in December 2021 is currently sold at N800 per liter. The increase is mostly due to scarcity and the rise in foreign exchange.

A check by Investors King on the booking pages of some domestic airlines shows that a one-way trip from Abuja to Lago on Air peace Airlines costs between 65,000 to 150,000 depending on the flight schedule. 

On Air peace, Lagos to Anambra on 23rd of December  2023, goes for N150,000.

Similarly, while a lot of near-date seats have been sold out on MaxAir, medium-distance date ranges between N65,000 to 80,000 nairas.

The same thing goes for Dana Airlines. A check on Dana Airlines shows between N66,000 to N85,000 from Abuja to Lagos on an economy ticket. 

According to some industry experts, other factors that are driving the price of air tickets include the demand that often comes with the yuletide period.

Looking at the available seats, it is obvious that many people had already booked seats ahead of the festive period. Additionally, the demand for air tickets was also driven by the political season. 

Investors King understands that campaign activities often drive the demand for air tickets as politicians and their supporters move from one state to the other. 

Furthermore, the Nigerian aviation industry is faced with high operating costs, taxes, and surcharges. 

Airlines also have to pay for landing costs and multiple aviation agencies’ charges among others. 

It will be recalled that in February 2022, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) pegged one-way ticket fares to a minimum of N50,000 amid the scarcity and sharp rise in the price of aviation fuel. 

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National Assembly Passes Education Bank Bill, Seeks to Provide Interest-Free Loan to Students

Nigeria seeks to establish a structured education bank to provide student loans and support students

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The Nigerian Senate has passed the student loan establishment bill to support Nigerian students and parents/guardians going through tough times.

The bill which was sponsored by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila was passed by the lower chamber earlier this year.

The proposed legislation titled ‘Bill for an Act to provide for easy access to higher education for Nigerians through interest-free loans from the Nigerian Education Bank’ seeks to provide interest-free loans to Nigerian students in the higher institutions within the county. 

Investors King learnt that with senate concurrence,  a clean copy would be produced and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. 

If signed by the president, the bill will see to the establishment of the Nigerian Education Bank which shall have powers to supervise, coordinate, administer and monitor the management of student loans in Nigeria. 

Additionally, the Nigerian Education Bank will have the mandate to receive applications from students through their respective institutions of learning. The body “Nigerian Education Bank” will also have the power to screen applicants and administer loans to those who met the laydown requirements. 

Without prejudice to gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind, the bill shall ensure that all Nigerian students have equal rights to access the loan. 

While commenting on the bill, the House speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila noted that the bill will ameliorate the hardship being faced by Nigerian students especially those who come from low-income families. 

He added that the legislation will also promote and enhance education among the youth by making it easy to study. 

“A well-educated citizenry was critical to the nation’s development and its ability to compete in the global economy” he noted. 

Although Investors King can not ascertain the requirements to access the loan, sources closer to the development however revealed that the major criteria is to be a student in any of the higher institutions of learning in Nigeria be it a University, Polytechnic or Monotechnic. 

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