The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has called for the establishment of Aviation Development Fund so that the sector can be in consonance with international standards and best practises.
Sirika, who spoke at the public hearing on the six Aviation Executive Bills at the National Assembly on Tuesday, stated that the Aviation Development Fund being proposed with friendly interest rate would help the sector address its enormous financial challenges.
Some of the bills being considered are “A Bill for an Act to repeal the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and to Enact the Civil Aviation Act for the Regulation of Civil Aviation in Nigeria and for Other Related Matters; “A Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act and to Enact the Nigerian Aviation Technology Act to provide for its organisation, control and operation and for related Matters.
Also included is a Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency Act for the purpose of providing effective Air Navigation.”
The Aviation Minister while responding to concern over inadequate safety equipment at the nation’s airport, passenger comfort and the perceived indifference of the regulatory agency, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, has however reiterated that the strategic sector was battling with paucity of fund.
Sirika said:” In the wisdom of the Ministry, we saw that we need huge fund to deal with capital intensive projects, including what Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) will require.
“We need huge amount to put them in place. Of course, we need adequate security around the airport to deal with intruders.
“If we are able to find this money and deal with these items, what we will be addressing is the sustainability of the items.
“We need Aviation Development Fund, where these money can be kept, where we are cocksure that these fund with little interest can be tapped. All we would then need is to boost our Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR).
“This Fund will help us with passenger comfort, safety around the airport. This volume of capital can be deployed to ensure that every aviation equipment are available at our airports. ”
The Aviation Minister who re-echoed his concern over the failure of airline operators under the aegis of Airlines Operators of Nigeria, (AON) to remit their service charge, has recommended for an automated payment system that would take care of cold war over default in remittance by members of the AON.
In his presentation, Director General of NAMA, Fola Akinkuotu who expressed delight over the proposed amendment of the Bill establishing NAMA, said that it would boost the much-needed improvement, efficiency to improve safety in our airspace.
Also in his presentation, Aviation Security Consultant and Secretary General of Aviation Security Round-table Initiative, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd) who called for a review of the sharing formula of the remittance to the NCAA, which he insisted was skewed against other stakeholders in the sector, asked, “What is NCAA doing to be taking 58 per cent?”
FG To Consider Death Penalty For Rail Vandals – Amaechi
The federal government says it may consider a death penalty for vandals of critical railway equipment in the country.
Rotimi Ameachi, minister of transportation, stated this on Monday, during a town hall meeting on “protecting public infrastructure” in Abuja.
On May 8, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the arrest of two persons suspected of vandalising rail tracks along the Kaduna-Zaria rail line.
On May 16, the Kaduna state police command said it arrested five suspected rail-trail vandals at Dalle Village of Jema’a LGA and recovered two trucks loaded with locomotive railway sleepers.
After the Warri-Itakpe incident, the senate asked the federal government and security agencies to ensure that those caught vandalising rail lines across Nigeria are given maximum punishment without a fine.
”I am not quantifying the material cost; what I am quantifying is the lives that will be lost,” Ameachi said at the town hall meeting.
“Imagine that a driver of a rail track is driving and suddenly bumps into a track that has been severed, what happens? It will derail.
“If it derails, can you quantify how many passengers that would have died in the course of one man thinking he is making money?
”Some people have recommended that since these people are killing people, if an accident happens people will die, so we should go back to the National Assembly and pass a law that does not only criminalise the action but consequences should be death.”
The minister also said track vandalism is carried out in collaboration with foreign partners.
”In Jos, they arrested a Chinese company that bought those tracks from them, went to court and found them guilty and fined them N200, 000. So there must be consequences as N200,000 is not enough,” he added.
“Lagos and the Western District recorded one, North Western 31, Northern District 10, North Eastern 43, Eastern 36 and North Central 50 incidents of vandalism. Abuja-Kaduna has 13, Warri-Itakpe 2 and Lagos -Ibadan nill.”
Amaechi, who frowned at traders selling items on railway tracks, especially in Port Harcourt and Lagos, advised individuals engaging in the practice to desist or face the penalties.
N2bn Disbursed To 7,075 Beneficiaries Under Youth Investment Fund – CBN
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says a total of N2.04 billion has been disbursed to 7,075 beneficiaries under the National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
The CBN disclosed this in a communique issued at the end of its two-day monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting on Tuesday.
In 2020, the federal executive council (FEC) had approved a N75 billion youth investment fund targeted at young people between ages 18-35 years and with the ministry of youth and sports development, responsible for budgetary provisions and for fundsmobilisation.
The programme financially empowers Nigerian youth to generate at least 500,000 jobs between 2020 and 2023.
The CBN said under the ABP, N631.4 billion was granted to 3,107,949 small holder farmers cultivating 3.8 million of land hectares; N111.7 billion granted to 29,026 beneficiaries under AGSMEIS; and N253.4 billion granted to 548,345 beneficiaries under the TCF, which comprises of 470,969 households and 77,376 SMEs.
CBN said these initiatives were used to inject liquidity into employment generation and enhance growth in the economy.
It further said that N1.84 trillion has been disbursed to real, healthcare and electricity sectors.
MPC said there is a strong need for the monetary authorities to consolidate on all administrative measures not only to tackle inflation but also on the actions so far taken to grow output.
It added that such measures should include boosting consumption and investments, as well as diversifying the base of Nigeria’s economy through foreign exchange restrictions for the importation of goods and food products that can be produced in the country.
Reps Tell NERC To Suspend New Electricity Tariff
The House of Representatives has called on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to suspend the proposed Increase in electricity tariff in the country.
Aniekan Umanah in a motion Thursday, recalled “that the Electric Power Sector Act of 2005 established the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission with a mandate to license Distribution Companies (DISCOs), determine operating codes and standards, establish customer rights and obligations and set cost-reflective industry tariff;
He also recalled that the Act prescribed its funding from 15% of electricity charges paid by customers to Distribution Companies; Aware that NERC, working with Distribution Companies, has increased electricity tariffs five times since 2015, the latest being on 1 January 2021”.
He said “despite those increases, Nigerians have not enjoyed significant improvement in power generation, instead they daily grapple with epileptic services from the DISCOs and unilateral exploitation in the name of estimated billing arising from non- metering of over 50% of consumers”.
He observed that “poor services by the DISCOs, have impacted negatively on the socio-economic growth of the country as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Report of 2020 on Nigeria indicated that the manufacturing sector lost over $200 billion to inadequate power supply while a whopping $21 billion was said to have been spent by Nigerians on generating sets within the period under review”.
He observed further that “the Nigerian masses have gone through so much hardship in recent times, arising from acts of terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, farmers and herdsmen’s crisis with its toll on agricultural activities, displacement from ancestral homes, loss of loved ones, starvation arising from inability to return to daily occupation and loss of personal properties running into several millions of naira”.
He raised concerns that “at a time governments all over the world are adopting measures to cushion the devastating effects of the dreaded COVID–19 pandemic on their citizens by providing a wide range of palliatives to losses of loved ones, jobs, businesses and general distortion in the social life, NERC is tinkering with the idea of a further increase in electricity tariff after that of 1 January, 2021, in a country where 2/3 of the 200 million population is grappling with the crippling effects of the pandemic;
Also concerned that the current economic recession made worse by hyperinflation has resulted in skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, while the increase in prices of Petroleum Products has also triggered the further increase in transport costs and rents with unemployment rates at a frightening 33.3% while the spending power of an average Nigerian has drastically reduced, any further hike in electricity tariff at this time will amount to overkill, lack of empathy and height of insensitivity”.
The House adopted the motion, with its arguments and prayers, resolving to
“ Urge the Federal Government to direct the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to rescind the decision to further increase electricity tariff proposed for June, 202l in view of the hard times Nigerian masses are currently going through”.
The House resolution, also mandated” the Committees on Power, Poverty Alleviation and Labour, Employment and Productivity to ensure compliance”.