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Despite Lawsuit, “Nigerian Air” Will Commence Operations as Planned; Says Aviation Minister

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Nigeria Air

Nigerian Air will commence operations in December as planned despite the lawsuit filed by Air Operators of Nigeria (AON), the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika revealed.

The minister who spoke during a stakeholders’ appreciation meeting for the reconstruction of the Lagos airport runway noted that he engaged indigenous carriers in Nigeria to participate in the “Nigerian Air” project.

He added that his several proposals to the indigenous airlines including Air Peace were turned down.

Investors King could recall that the Air Operators of Nigeria (AON) had filed a lawsuit at the federal high court in Lagos to stop the commencement of Nigerian Air. 

According to the lawsuit, the indigenous operators argued that the process which led to the preferred bidder for the national carrier is with some irregularities. 

In addition, the indigenous airline operators alleged that the idea of a foreign airline with a 49 percent stake in Nigerian National Carrier will amount to capital flight which will further harm the indigenous players. 

Specifically, they noted that the partnership with Ethiopian Airlines on the National Carrier will open Nigeria’s aviation market to foreign operators which could send domestic airlines out of business. 

In September 2022, the Minister of Aviation announced Ethiopian Airlines as the preferred bidder for “Nigerian Air” with an equity stake of 49 percent.

While the Federal Government reserved 5 percent, a consortium of Nigerian Investors which comprises SAHCO, MRS and the Nigerian Sovereign Fund holds 46 percent stake. 

The minister who was enraged by the disposition of the indigenous airline operators noted that the process which led to the preferred bidder was transparent. 

Having recorded a revenue of more than $1 billion during Covid, he added that Ethiopian Airlines has the technical and the financial capacity to partner with the federal government on a national carrier. 

“I have been very transparent in the processes put in place to deliver the national carrier. If anyone wants to invest in a company, no one can stop them from investing” he said. 

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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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Arik Airplane - Investors King

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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University - Investors King

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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