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United Chairman Seeks Special Forex Window For Airlines

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by Wole Shadare

Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Mr. Obiora Okonkwo, has called for a special window where airlines can access foreign exchange to solve myriads of issues. He lamented the difficulty in accessing FOREX, which he said was capable of frustrating airline business in Nigeria.

According to him, owing to this, domestic carriers are finding it difficult to acquire spares, carry out maintenance of their aircraft, pay for technical training of personnel and lease aircraft.

His words: “Moving forward, the issue of foreign exchange sourcing and processes; there must be a special window for the airlines because today, if the bidding process goes through the banks bi-weekly, that is every two weeks, you have already spare parts to pick immediately and you wait for two weeks to go to the bidding and then you need $100,000, you get $10,000.”

“There must be a special funding process to support the airline business because almost 99 and half percent of volume need to be paid, airplanes fly, they are all important, and your ticket sales are in Naira. You are not even allowed by the policy to receive payment in foreign currencies. So, I really think that a lot has been done but more can be done to make it better,” he added.

Foreign exchange still remains a big problem for airlines in Nigeria. That single component can cause an airline to go under. Airline operators have discussed the issue of the foreign exchange and availability and the rate extensively at many fora.

They have argued that even if they have capacity, increase and everything; if the dollar keeps rising or if the airlines cannot access foreign exchange, it will hinder their growth, it will also increase the ticket price.

There is nothing that is done in aviation that is not dollar-related. That means whenever there is a spike in the exchange rate, it will translate into a spike in either the spare parts they are buying or the consumables they are buying or whatever they are buying because the aviation industry is dollar related.

If they do not have access to the dollar, it affects them, because if they leased aircraft or leased engines or leased landing gears, they are paying definitely in dollars.

He further reiterated that local airlines would only survive if the federal government provides foreign exchange for them, stressing that the sourcing of foreign exchange from autonomous markets at N480 to a dollar, noting that, “even if you go there, you might find it difficult to find the dollar.”

He attributed one of the reasons for airlines’ failures to wrong perception and not necessarily because of business plans, adding that the sector needs so much support and policies to support airline business.

Okonkwo admitted that a whole lot still has to be done from all sectors including friendly government policy, regulatory, describing it as a very sensitive industry that is very important for trade, movement of people and an important sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the economy.

“It is a good source of government revenue, it should be given greater attention than it’s given now. It should be treated more kindly than it’s being done now. I think there is a better opportunity, a better platform for me to use the experience I have gone through in this process probably to add to the policy advice.

“They have to look at the support system. You know COVID-19 affected airlines very badly all over the world. Countries supported their airlines to remain in business. There have been announcement made I don’t know of anybody who have accessed that, it is a very serious issue to be out of business for many months.”

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Ebonyi Head of Service Position: Umahi Throws Application Open

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Against the usual practice of picking from the top echelon of the Civil Service,  Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi on Tuesday threw the position of Head of Service (HoS) of the state open, asking civil servants on Grade Level 14 and above to apply within two weeks.

Umahi, in a statement by the Commissioner of Information and State Orientation, Mr Uchenna Orji, said civil servants across the 13 LGAs of the state are qualified to apply within two weeks.

“The Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi requests applications from Civil Servants from Grade Level 14 and above to fill the vacancy of the Head Of Service (HOS), who shall be bowing out of Civil Service on 30th June 2021 after a meritorious and selfless service to the government and people of Ebonyi State,” the statement read in part.

The Governor further directed the civil servants to forward their applications to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG): “All applications are to be addressed to the Secretary to the State Government and Coordinating Commissioner, and submitted with all relevant credentials no later than 30th June, 2021.

Umahi added that “In replacing the outgoing Head of Service, the Government will be looking for the best for the State to continue the good work that the outgoing Head of Service began.

He applauded the loyalty, committed efforts and selfless service rendered by the out-going Head Of Service, Dr. Chamberlain Nwele, in the state and wished him well in his future endeavours.

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Federal High Court Issues New Practice Direction For Filing Of Processes As Workers Resume

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The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court (FHC), Justice John Tsoho, has issued a new practice direction on exemption of payment of default fees for filing of processes.

The development, according to a statement by Catherine Oby-Nwandu, Chief Information Officer of FHC, on Friday night, followed the resumption of work after the two-month strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) was called off on on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that JUSUN had, on April 6, shut down all courts nationwide to demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary at the state level.

Although the industrial action was called off on Wednesday, June 9, the workers union directed all its members to resume work on Monday, June 14.

Justice Tsoho, in the statement, therefore ordered that notwithstanding the provisions of Order 48 Rule 4 of the court rules, 2019, on computation of time for filling of court proceedings as provided by the Rules and payment of default fees for extension of time, the period covering the JUSUN strike action would be exempted.

The statement reads: “Following the resumption of work after the strike action by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June 2021 which affected court proceedings and filling of processes, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Honorable Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, announces to Hon. Judges, stakeholders and the general public, the essential need for a new Practice Direction on EXEMPTION OF PAYMENT OF DEFAULT FEES FOR FILING OF PROCESSES computation of time for the payment of default fees for extension of time for filing processes in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for the above period.

“Pursuant to the powers conferred on him, he thereby issues the following Practice Directions:
“COMPUTATION of Time for filing of court processes and payment of default fees for extension of time;
“Notwithstanding the provisions of Order 48 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019 on computation of time for filling of court proceedings or doing an act as provided by the Rules and payment of default fees for extension of time thereof, the period covering the JUSUN strike action, being from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June, 2021, is hereby exempted.

“APPLICABILITY; These practice Directions shall, save to the extent or as may be otherwise directed by the Chief Judge, apply to both criminal and civil causes and matters in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

“CITATION; These Practice Directions shall be cited as the Federal High Court (Exemption of Payment of Default Fees for Filing of Processes) Practice Directions (No. 2) 2021.

“The Practice Directions take effect from Tuesday, June 15, 2021.”(NAN)

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BUHARI REMOVES ARMSTRONG IDACHABA, REPLACES HIM WITH SHEHU ILELAH AS NBC DG.

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Mr Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, as the new director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the appointment in a statement made available to NAN in Abuja on Friday.

The statement said Ilelah’s appointment is for a tenure of five years in the first instance.

Ilelah

It added that Ilelah is a veteran broadcaster.

Ilelah takes over from the acting director-general of the agency, Armstrong Idachaba, who had been acting since the removal of Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, the esthwhile director-general who was removed over alleged corruption last year.

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