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AESID raises alarm over alleged sales of Ebonyi property in Lagos, demands probe

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Association of Ebonyi Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has condemned an alleged sale of a landed property belonging to the Ebonyi state government in Lagos.

The said property is located at No. 19A Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Maryland, Lagos state.

Raising the alarm through a statement signed and made available to newsmen Wednesday in Abuja by AESID’s President-General, Worldwide, Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu, said the land is the only property owned by the Ebonyi state government in Lagos state, is a 2-acres of land with an erected and furnished two-storey building situated on it and strategically-located on a highbrow area, directly opposite the Ikeja Military cantonment, Lagos.

Oluchukwu said some Ebonyians occupying the said premises and doing their businesses have made certain unofficial disclosures regarding an alleged plot by someone close to the state government to sale the property in question.

“To this end therefore, we have been fully informed about the serving of notices to various occupants of the said property to quit same for the alleged eventual take-over of it by the said buyers of the property whose identities, terms of agreements and rate of purchase have remained a top secret known only to the Umahis. We gathered therefore that some of the traders around the area have already complied with the notice by vacating the said premises which had been placed on rent to Coscharis for N50 million annually to the state which helped to shore up the State’s revenue-base.

“Firstly, is the Umahi government aware that Ebonyi indigenes living in and others doing businesses within the said premises have been served notices to quit the said apartments? If indeed, it is to their knowledge, who is behind such notices?

“Secondly, did the Umahi-led administration either through the Governor himself, his very powerful and influential brothers and or including any of his ‘less-powerful’ Exco members at any point raise the issue of selling, leasing or even quitting the tenants of the said massive land before an Exco either for deliberation or consideration as was often the case even in the government of Elechi where he served as a Deputy Governor?

“Thirdly, was the said property ever advertised either in the print, electronic or even the social media as being on sale for interested members of the public to perhaps competitively bid and lobby for it as stipulated in our laws? Who exactly is behind this outlandish dubious plot to sell-off what belongs to the entire Ebonyians without recourse to due process of the law as though it is now a private property? These questions, now on the lips of many Ebonyians deserve very modest and urgent answers and Governor Umahi cannot continue to live in denial or pretences regarding these.

“Whereas, we condemn in its entirety the said moves to sell-off Ebonyi property in any part of the country, which our ancestors and elders fought very hard to bequeath to our generation particularly the one in question, we quickly call on the State government to come open and declare the actual status of the said property within 24 hours. The Umahi-led administration and his army of ‘very influential brothers’ shouldn’t keep Ebonyians in the dark and continue to run Ebonyi like their personal fiefdom and in the way and manner they have carried on for the past five years and yet counting.”

The association, however called on the security agencies to probe the allegation and unravel the truth.

“We therefore call on security and law enforcement agencies to without hesitation probe this allegation of sale of Ebonyi landed property in Lagos and or any other part of the country where such incident or interest may have occurred without due process and consequently bring those behind same to book as we believe that government is not a criminal enterprise that acts in dubious secrecy, specious hypocrisy and shamelessness.

“This Ebonyi-welfare-oriented organization is deeply saddened by the glaring facts that Governor Umahi despite making Ebonyi much poorer than he met it as we now rank the poverty capital of the entire southern Nigeria based on available and current NBS statistics appear hell-bent on looting and squandering completely whatever is left even as legacy assets and liabilities belonging to our beloved Salt of the Nation. Posterity will never be kind to him if he denies the unborn generation of Ebonyians what their fore-fathers, fathers, grand-fathers and great grand-fathers left behind for them as their pride and legacy projects and belongings.”

The group also urged the state government to remember and fully compensate those affected by the siting of the Airport project in Okarue, Umuoghara, Ezza north Local Area of the state.

“AESID also totally condemn the silence of the Ebonyi state government on the plights of those affected by the siting of the Airport project in Okarue, Umuoghara, Ezza north Local Area of the state.

“The victims who are predominantly peasant rural farmers are numbering thousands have lived without shelter and any form of genuine assistance after being forced out of their ancestral homes and lands by the Umahi-government which forcefully acquired the said land for the International Airport.

“It is our concern just as we have consistently maintained in our initial Press releases on this particular subject matter that the government have allowed these Ezza natives to stay without roofs on their heads while it carries on with its plenitude of political and other jamborees. This is sad, we mean, very sad and least expected of any responsible government needless to talk of those who far less-privileged such as the displaced Airport victims.

“Finally, we further reject any proposal, suggestions or moves to allocate, cede or partition any part of Ebonyi’s vast and arable lands to cattle herders whose marauding influence within and around the State have not only created fears and led to deaths of our people but have caused the proceeds from our farms to dwindle greatly. We say so because Ebonyi has very rich mineral and Agricultural potentials which when left unexploited due to fear of herdsmen would take a further toll on the poverty index cum other ratings of the state which recorded one of the greatest inflation in food prices in May this year.”

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Aviation

Concession: Preferred, Reserved Bidders Emerge for Abuja, Lagos and Kano Airports

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… as No Bid Received for Port Harcourt Airport

The Nigerian government on Wednesday announced the preferred bidders for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, as the Concession programme enters its final phase.

The minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika unveiled the successful bidders at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the Request for Proposals (RFP) phase of the Nigeria Airports Concession Programme (NACP), which came to a close on the 19 of September 2022 has seen the emergence of preferred and reserve bidders for three (3) out of four (4) Airports and Cargo Terminals as approved for concession under the programme under the supervision of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

He announced that “the preferred bidder for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, is Corporacion America Airports Consortium. ENL Consortium has also been selected as the reserve bidder for NAIA. ”

“The preferred bidder for Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, is TAV/NAHCO/PROJECT PLANET LIMITED(PPL) Consortium. Sifax/Changi Consortium has also been selected as the reserve bidder for MMIA” he said.

“The preferred bidder for Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, is Corporacion America Airports Consortium. There are no reserve bidders for MAKIA as at the time of this announcement,” he said.

For the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Port Harcourt, Sirika said the ministry “did not receive any proposals as of the RFP deadline close and as such has not had preferred and reserve bidders attached to it.”

He said the next stage now it’s the negotiation stage adding that the organised labour has been a part of all the negotiations that has happened and will still be part of future negotiations.

He also said no Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) official will lose their jobs.

“The next stage of the programme is the negotiations and due diligence stage, during which the Federal Government will invite preferred bidders to enter detailed negotiations with its representatives, with a view to developing a Full Business Case (FBC) before onward transmission to ICRC for review and approval. Only after successful conclusion of the negotiation and due diligence stage will the FBC and all other approvals be presented before the Federal Executive Council for final approval by the Federal Government of Nigeria” he explained.

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Aviation

Trapped Funds: Reprieve for Foreign Airlines, as CBN Releases $265M Intervention

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Foreign airlines operating in the country and their passengers can now heave a sigh of relief as the Central Bank of Nigeria has released $265million to airlines operating in the country to settle outstanding ticket sales to check a brewing crisis in the country’s aviation sector.

Disclosing this in a statement, on Friday, the Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, said the Nigerian government was concerned about the development and what it portended for the sector and travellers as well as the country in the comity of nations.

A breakdown of the figure indicated that $230million was released as special foreign exchange intervention while another $35million was released through Retail SMIS auction.

Nwanisobi retiterated that the bank was not against any company repatriating its funds from the country, adding that what the bank stood for was an orderly exit for those that might be interested in doing so.

“With Friday’s release, it is expected that operators and travelers as well will heave huge sighs of relief, as some airlines had threatened to withdraw their services in the face of unremitted funds for outstanding sale of tickets,” CBN said.

There has been serious concerns and reactions over hundreds of millions of dollars earned by foreign airlines operating in the country which they could not repatriate due to foreign exchange scarcity problems.

SaharaReporters had during the week reported that some international airlines whose $600million got stuck in Nigeria’s Central Bank were not happy with the carefree attitude shown by the Nigerian administration.

Some of the foreign nations had said they gave between now and December — the deadline when the Nigerian government should pay the accrued debt or risk having them leave the nation.

Sunrise Nigeria earlier reported that Emirates Airlines had announced that it would suspend its flights to Nigeria from September 1 this year.

The proposed suspension of flights to Nigeria is connected to its failure to repatriate its trapped ticket sales fund in the West African country back to its home country in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Meanwhile, the foreign nations’ ultimate intervention has been linked to the CBN’s failure to release the trapped monies for the airlines to return to their home countries in violation of the deal they signed with Nigeria as outlined in the current Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs).

This is just as the seeming silence of the various local bankers of the foreign airlines in Nigeria has been attributed to the fact that it is only the CBN that is empowered to do this.

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Aviation

Nigeria will have national carrier before end of 2022 — Aviation Minister

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The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has given an assurance that Nigeria will have a national carrier before the end of 2022.

Sirika gave the assurance at a two-day Africa Public Private Partnership Network (AP3N) Investment programme held in Abuja on Tuesday

The programme was organised by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission with the theme, “Financing Africa’s Infrastructure through Public Private Partnership (PPP).”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria Air is the nation’s proposed national carrier which was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in July 2018.

The minister, represented by Mr Akin Olateru, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), said the Air Transport License had been issued.

“We have a team in place, the Air Transport License has been issued by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and we are in the process of processing the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) which will lead to the start of the airline.

“When you are setting up an airline, there are five phases for the AOC process.

“You need to bring in airplanes when you are in phase three. So in phases one and two, you do not need to bring an airplane but you need to have identified them.

“But because people do not understand the process in aviation, they see it as another business. But aviation has its peculiarities and strict guidelines in everything we do.”

The panelist who discussed the topic “Transforming the Aviation Sector through Private Sector Participation” underscored the need for funding from private investment in the sector to ensure efficiency.

Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), said funding was a critical function in the aviation sector for it to function optimally.

According to him, funding is the lifeblood, you can have all the technical skills but without funding, the sector cannot function.

“Equipment and facilities need to be replaced and maintained as and when due.

“If stakeholders do not have confidence in the sector, then we cannot function, and our workers will not work if they do not feel safe using the equipment.

“If you get the stakeholders’ confidence, you would get the right participation. PPP is the way to go not only in aviation but in all sectors,” he said.

Mr. Isaac Balami, an aviator and Chief Executive Officer, 7Star Global Hanger, said there was the need to set up an Aviation Development Bank, given the key role the aviation industry played in the Nigerian economy and the African continent.

According to him, in terms of strategy, we must look inwards and believe in ourselves, and we must also consider local content.

Mr Lai Are, the Managing Director, Catamaran Nigeria Ltd, said the foundation of any country was its infrastructure, adding that there was a need to bridge the infrastructure gap in Nigeria.

Are said without aviation, the country would not be able to attract the kind of finance needed in the transport sector.

“We are a country in need of investment, and most of this money cannot come from within but we need to look inward to see how we can present ourselves to the outside world.

“We need to see how we can look attractive to the outside world and attract investment for infrastructure development.”

He also said there must be the sanctity of agreements, saying that the government must honour agreements so that investors get returns on their investments at the agreed time.

“Yes, the private sector will come but they must ride on the back of the foundation the government has built,” he said.

Mr. Suileman Ibrahim, the director, Capital Projects and Infrastructure, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said that the government must see private investors as partners by creating policies that make investment possible.

Abrahim also said that dedicated funds should also be set up for the aviation industry such as having an aviation bank or a bank dedicated to the transport sector.

“Having the right policies which include tax incentives and waivers, providing guarantees and supporting the environment and repatriation of foreign exchange are critical to investment in this space.” (NAN)

 

 

 

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