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‘It’s shadowy’ — airline operators fault Sirika’s move to float Nigeria Air days to handover

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Domestic aviation firms, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), have condemned plans by Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, to deliver Nigeria Air, the proposed national carrier, before May 29, 2023.

The airlines, in a statement on Friday, signed by Obiora Okonkwo, spokesperson of AON, described the move as contemptuous and shadowy.

Two days ago, Sirika announced that an aircraft belonging to Nigeria Air would be delivered on Friday (today), insisting that the national carrier would be operational before his tenure ends.

Prior to this announcement, aviation stakeholders had raised concerns over the ownership stake of the proposed national carrier.

Last year, a federal high court in Lagos prohibited the federal government from selling the shares of Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines — a judgment that ultimately halted the commencement of operations.

But the minister had consistently insisted that the national carrier would fly before the end of the current administration, adding that “nothing would stop it.”

Responding to Sirika’s recent comments on floating Nigeria Air in the statement, the airlines kicked against the plan, adding that such a move “was not in the best interest of the country”.

“All of these statements and actions are in flagrant disobedience of the orders of the federal high court of Nigeria which halted the said moves by the minister to float the said airline until the determination of the substantive suit brought by AON against it,” the statement reads.

“We make bold to respond because of the myriad of inquiries from concerned and patriotic Nigerians and industry stakeholders who have either called or sent messages over the minister’s comments.

“For the avoidance of doubt, AON welcomes the establishment of more airlines in Nigeria for we believe that the skies are big enough to accommodate all. However, AON is against any contraption that is shadowy and not in the best interest of the country.

“We need the outgoing minister to come forward, defend, and counter the very damning submissions in our suit.”

‘SIRIKA IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW’

The airlines also frowned on the desperate move of the minister to operate the airline despite a court order, uncompleted certification, and a short time before his tenure elapses.

“It is very disturbing that a minister is desperately hoodwinking the entire nation into accepting a massively flawed process just 72 hours to the end of his 7-year tenure in office as minister of aviation even as the courts have halted him,” AON added.

“The aviation minister is aware of the different court orders against him and Nigeria Air. He should be aware that he is courting a charge of contempt of court as he is not above the law and can not freely disregard the courts.

“AON is also aware, like the minister and promoters of Nigeria Air, that the process of acquiring airline operating certificate (AOC) for Nigeria Air is only at stage one contrary to his televised statement that the Nigerian Air AOC process was at stage five.

“The world is watching the regulator, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Nigerian Air and its AOC. The NG Eagles’ AOC is equally a matter for another day.”

The group said the actions and pronouncements of the minister are impugning the integrity of the NCAA and, as such, capable of adversely affecting the ratings of Nigeria’s airlines.

AON also said Sirika cannot order the certification processes by fiat.

“Therefore, an aircraft flying into Nigeria and bearing Nigerian colours does not change anything,” the airlines said.

“Furthermore, the fact that the minister has just a few more days left of his time in office, makes it necessary that promoters of the airline, if they exist, other than Sirika, should be talking to Nigerians, telling them what they ought to know and answering relevant questions about their stakes in Nigeria Air.

“Hadi Sirika knows that until the order is vacated, the ministry of aviation cannot proceed with any action toward the airline.”

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Nigeria’s inflation rate rises to 33.95% as food prices continue to surge

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 33.95 percent in May, as prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to surge.

NBS made this known in its consumer price index (CPI) report on Saturday.

In April, the inflation rate stood at 33.69 percent.

“Looking at the movement, the May 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.26% points when compared to the April 2024 headline inflation rate,” NBS said.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.54% points higher compared to the rate recorded in May 2023, which was 22.41%.”

The report also shows that on a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in May 2024 was
2.14 percent, which was 0.15 percent lower than the 2.29 percent rate reported in April 2024.

This means that in the month of May, the rate of increase in the average price level is less than the rate of increase in the average price level in April 2024.

An analysis of the top five headline inflation drivers showed food and non-alcoholic beverages led with 17.59 percent.

Following closely are housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels with 5.68 percent.

Others are clothing and footwear at 2.60 percent, transport at 2.21 percent, with furnishings, household equipment and maintenance completing the list at 1.71 percent.

NBS said on a year-on-year basis, the urban inflation rate rose to 36.34 percent in May, “which was 12.61% points higher compared to the 23.74% recorded in May 2023”.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Urban inflation rate was 2.35% in May 2024, this was 0.32% points lower compared to April 2024 (2.67%),” NBS said.

“The Rural inflation rate in May 2024 was 31.82% on a year-on-year basis; this was 10.63% higher compared to the 21.19% recorded in May 2023.”

‘YAM, SEMOVITA, GARRI DRIVE FOOD INFLATION RATE UP TO 44.66%’

NBS said food inflation rose to 40.66 percent in May, compared to the 24.82 percent reported in the same month last year — indicating an increase of 15.84 percent points.

The bureau said semovita, oatflake, yam flour prepackage, garri, bean, etc (which are under bread
and cereals class), Irish potatoes, yam, water yam, etc (under potatoes, yam and other tubers class), contributed to the year-on-year increase in the food inflation rate.

Other contributors are palm oil, vegetable oil, etc (under oil and fat), stockfish, mudfish, crayfish,
etc (under fish class), beef head, chicken-live, pork head, and bush meat (under meat class).

NBS also said the month-on-month food inflation rate in May was 2.28 percent, showing a decrease of 0.22 percent compared to the 2.50 percent recorded in April.

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Local airlines will soon start flying directly to South America, says Keyamo

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Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation, says the country is looking to commence direct flight operations to South America.

The minister made this known on Saturday during an interview with the statehouse media.

On March 20, Air Peace, Nigeria’s flag carrier, commenced its Lagos-London flight services.

Keyamo said more indigenous airlines would soon commence flight operations to other routes.

“We are looking at the American route, we are looking at the South American route,” he said.

“They are not even flying the South American route at all but something is in the offering for us to start that route now so as to help the Nigerian flying public to bring down their prices.”

He said this is one aspect of helping local airline to enforce Bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA).

According to the minister, this will also ensure “you tell the countries that this is our flag carriers, present them as your flag carriers and so they respect them as Nigeria’s representative not as just private businesses in Nigeria”.

Speaking further, Keyamo said in the 2024 budget, there is provision for a master plan for the ministry.

The master plan, he said, is not to redesign the terminal buildings at airports but to modify the electropolis.

Keyamo said it would be done in all airports, starting with the five international airports.

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FAAN warns airport users against offering bribes, encouraging extortion

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has warned airport users against offering bribes and encouraging extortion this Sallah season.

The authority gave the warning on Friday in a statement issued by Obiageli Orah, its director of public affairs and consumer.

According to FAAN, any staff or government agency operating at the airports found guilty of accepting bribes will face punishment.

“The MD of FAAN Mrs Olubunmi Kuku, at a recent event had sent out a severe warning to staff as well as all government agencies that operate at our airports that FAAN will ensure that whoever is culpable is punished,” the authority said.

“Do not give bribes or encourage extortion.”

FAAN also assured Nigerians of seamless travels through its airports this festive season, adding that the authority has consistently upgraded its security measures to ensure the safety of travellers and their property.

The authority advised all travellers to arrive at the airport early to avoid missing their flights and to reduce the rush.

“International travellers must be at the airport three hours before departure, while local travellers must ensure to arrive about two hours to flight schedule,” FAAN said.

“Please ensure that you pack your luggage by yourself. Do not leave your luggage unattended.

“FAAN has expanded the screening area in order to give passengers a better flying experience.

“Keep an eye on your valuables while passing through screening.

“Respect rules and regulations in respect of carriage of prohibited articles, liquids, and gel.

“We have information desks at all our airports to assist you. Please make use of them.”

FAAN also advised travellers to park their vehicles properly in the car park to avoid towing, urging them not to use the services of touts.

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