Aviation sector to inject about $5b into economy in 30 years

The aviation sector is expected to inject about $5b out of the  $3.10 Trillion required by the National Integrated Infrastructure Masterplan (NIMP) over a period of 30 years through Public Private Partnerships  (PPP).
This was stated by the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engr Saleh Dunoma at the annual conference and exhibition of the Airport Council International ACI) holding in Montreal.
Speaking at the session on Public Private Partnership, Eng Dunoma hinged his presentation with a quotation from President Muhammadu Buhari thus:
“We also have a huge infrastructure deficit for which we require foreign capital and expertise to supplement whatever resources we can marshal at home. In essence we seek Public Private Partnership in our quest for enhanced capital and expertise”.
Speaking further, Engr Dunoma said the appointment of Sen Hadi Sirika, himself an aviator as the Minister of State, Aviation has fast tracked the provision of the legislative framework and corresponding incentives to attract foreign direct investment.
“We invite Investors to join the PPP process for airport management and take advantage of the great and vast opportunities, “Feets” and Offerings in our airports”, he concluded.

Earlier at the opening ceremony, the director general of ACI World, Angela Gittens said “ACI-NA works with our members everyday to seek common sense approaches to turn short-term challenges into long-term opportunities “.

She said this year’s conference – the largest “for airports, by airports ” gathering in the world – perfectly highlights Airport Council International’s unique position as the Voice of Airports all around the world

James Cherry, President of Aeroports de Montreal expressed delight in playing host to airport leaders across the globe.
According to him, the Montreal – Trudeau air port is celebrating its 75th anniversary and will be glad to share the many changes made to lift it’s services to world-class levels and strengthen its role as a strategic transportation hub.

The managing director who was accompanied by Capt Henry Omeogu, Director of Airport Operations,  Kabiru Mohammed, Chief of Staff to the Managing Director also interracted with airport operators and foreign investors amongst others.
The Airport Council International (ACI) Annual Conference/World General Assembly in Montreal, Canada, ends on 28th  September, 2016.

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Airlines support ICAO on Cusp of historic emissions agreement

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments at the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to agree a global market-based measure to help the aviation industry manage its carbon footprint.

At the top of the agenda for the ICAO Assembly is the proposal for the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

“The global aviation industry has turned out in force to encourage governments to make history by agreeing to implement CORSIA. This will be the first global agreement of its kind for an industrial sector. We are committed to carbon neutral growth from 2020. CORSIA, along with measures to improve technology, operations and infrastructure, will keep aviation at the forefront of industries responsibly managing their climate change impact,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA member airlines passed resolutions at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in 2013 and again in 2016, calling on governments to implement a global market-based measure (GMBM) to help manage aviation’s carbon footprint. The GMBM must focus on real emissions reductions (not revenue raising for governments), take into consideration differing circumstances of airlines based on maturity of markets, and not distort competition.

“We have a pragmatic compromise in the current CORSIA proposal. And with some 60 states already committed for the voluntary period, momentum is building. We still need more states to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to sustainability by joining,” said de Juniac.

A GMBM must be implemented as part of the package of measures in the industry’s four-pillar strategy on climate change. The GMBM is a critical gap-filler until improvements in technology, operations and infrastructure can fully realize the industry’s sustainability goals. These goals are: An average fuel efficiency improvement of 1.5percent annually to 2020, Carbon neutral growth from 2020, Reducing net 2050 carbon emissions to half 2005 levels
Security will also feature prominently at the Assembly in light of UN Security Resolution 2309 passed on 22 September 2016. Under the leadership of ICAO, the Security Council reinforced the importance for national governments to invest in measures to keep aviation secure in light of evolving terrorist threats.

“The terrorist menace is hovering over our world, including the aviation industry. It is encouraging to see governments addressing the threats to aviation security at the highest international levels. We fully support ICAO’s leadership in helping states to meet their responsibilities on security. Keeping our passengers and crews safe from harm is a top priority for aviation. We look forward to contributing our operational expertise to help in any way that we can,” said de Juniac.
IATA submitted some 25 Working Papers to the 39th ICAO Assembly, covering a broad cross-section of subjects where global standards play a role. These include safety, security, the ratification and application of global treaties, efficiency of infrastructure, slot allocation, addressing excessive levels of taxation, promoting smarter regulation and a plethora of other issues. All working papers are available on the ICAO website.
“Aviation is built on global standards. And that is the common theme across our full agenda at ICAO. The aviation industry supports some 63 million jobs and $2.7 trillion in economic activity. This year airlines will move about 3.8 billion people and 50 million tonnes of cargo safely to their destinations. That adds tremendous value to our world. I firmly believe that we are in the business of freedom—which has a big and growing positive impact on our globe. Our focus at the 39th ICAO Assembly is to reinforce the global standards that are at the core of aviation’s remarkable contribution to modern life,” said de Juniac.

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Associated Airline crash: conflicting facts, too many unanswered questions

Associated Airline crash: conflicting facts, too many unanswered questions
By Franklin Ihejirika
The crash of the Associated Airline in Lagos on Thursday October 3rd 2013 has yet again brought to the fore the nagging safety issues that have characterized the Nigerian airspace since independence with too many unanswered questions by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and conflicting information which is an indication that something is wrong with the industry or the system.
The Regulatory Authority failed to provide vital information like number of hours the pilot of the ill fated aircraft has flown, who was the NCAA engineer that certified a dead aircraft to fly only to crash few minutes later, as it was gathered that the aircraft lost its left engine just few minutes after take-off and this made it to lose control and finally crashed. This is just as some observers are still wondering how an aircraft that took off just a few minutes lost an engine and crashed.   
 
The NCAA in a press briefing in Lagos on the accident declined to answer pertinent questions from the media on the flimsy excuses that they also under investigation concerning the crash as the industry regulator, stressing that all questions should be directed to the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
Speaking late on Thursday night October 3rd after long hours of delay in releasing the flight manifest, smacking speculations that the airline was hiding some vital information with the regulatory authority, Taiwo Raji, the chief operating officer of Associated Airline disclosed that the number of survivors has now reduced to five with 15 dead.
He said the aircraft flew last in August 30th and was insured with Sema Insurance.
According to him, the Aircraft was 23 years old, as the last A check was done in June 2013.
Raji emphasised that among the surviours, five people were kept at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, one at Nigerian Airforce Medical Centre, and one at Federal Medical Centre, Ebute- meta.
But contrary to the information by the management of the airline that the aircraft flew last in August 30th 2013,on their website, the airline wrote that it suspended chartered flight operations in November 2012, while the NCAA in their contradictory statement disclosed that the aircraft operated last on a charter operation in August 22. So, an aircraft that has not flown since November 2012 could not have been fit to fly, more so, the airline was certified fit to fly by one of the airline’s aircraft maintenance engineers prior to departure, instead of by the NCAA flight inspector which is a direct indictment on the regulatory authority that they are not alive to their responsibility, instead of certifying aircraft, they left it for airline engineers to certify, knowing full well that the airline engineers may compromise on safety which they actually did. Commenting of some of the issues raised, Engineer Kyari S. A, the managing director of Finum Aviation Services said an aircraft can still be maintained while on ground. Nigerian aviation is safe, we have good regulations in the crash that just occurred yesterday was a misery, we thank God that the black box was recovered so that won’t take us long before we get the actual cause of the crash from AIB.
He explained further that when an aircraft is on ground, it can still be maintained, as a storage maintenance could be carried on it like in every two-two weeks so that the aircraft will be fit to fly and that will ensure that the system of the aircraft is functioning well ‘so when an aircraft is on ground, it does not mean that the aircraft cannot be maintained

’An aircraft that is covered by AOC even though it does not fly maintenance can still be done on it. Any aircraft that didn’t fly for one week NCAA is aware bf they fly NCAA is aware’’, he said.     
Speaking on Friday at the NCAA Annex at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja Lagos, the director general of NCAA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu who was represented by the director of NCAA consumer protection directorate, Adamu Abdullahi stated that the Embraer  aircraft  120 ER 5NBJY aircraft with 30 passenger capacity was manufactured by Embraer S.A Brazil and registered in Nigeria on the 22nd of May, 2007.
According to him, before the ill fated flight, the airline last operated the EMB 120ER 5N-BJY aircraft on a charter flight on the 22nd of August 2013, while it was certified fit for flight by one of the airline’s aircraft maintenance engineers prior to departure, who was also on board the ill fated flight.
‘’ There were seven survivours who are currently receiving medical attention at different hospitals in Lagos. The airline, Associated Aviation Limited holds subsisting Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and currently conducts only charter operations. The aircraft had a current Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) till October 22nd, 2013. Our records show that the airline has an insurance policy valid until June 14, 2014’’, Akinkuotu said.
The DG stated that the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), the agency charged with the statutory responsibility to investigate aircraft accident has since launched an investigation into the cause of the accident, ‘we await the report of the investigation.’  
He commended the rescue efforts of all agencies and Lagos State officials who were involved in the rescue operations.
Associated airline specialised in charter, regional, domestic passenger and cargo operations. It started operations in 1996 with Tunde Oremule as its chief executive officer. It suspended chartered operation on the 11 of November 2012.
The aircraft in their fleet before the crash include 2 BAe 125-700, 1 Boeing 727-200F , 2 x Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia which one of them crashed.
Addressing newsmen after the crash at the NCAA Annex in Lagos, the Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Usman Mukhtar  said an emergency respond centre has been set for the family of the crashed victims at the headquarters of NCAA in Lagos.
He disclosed that the search and rescue operation was concluded at about 11.50 am local time with a combined team of aviation parastatals, including the Airforce, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Speaking earlier, Yakubu Dati, the coordinating spokesman of the aviation industry disclosed that the two black boxes (Flight Recorder) have been recovered from the crash site and are in possession of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
Barrister Ike C. Ibe who lost his wife and daughter in the Dana plane crash in Iju Ishaga area of Lagos on June 3rd 2012 in an exclusive interview with Nigerian Pilot few days before the Associated crash noted that, ‘’there are several factor, first we have to ask ourselves if those aircraft are actually airworthy the time they were licensed, that is one. The role of aviation industry officials in any country because before someone sets up an airline, the supposed to certify how much time the aircraft has flown, the safety records of the airline and all kinds of things but this is never done because of corruption. In Nigeria none of all those things are ever done, anybody who just wakes up in the morning and has access to plane and has access to money to bribe government officials in Nigeria, just get license to fly and that is why you have some of these issues happening every day. So am not satisfied that government has really done much to ensure the safety of lives of the flying public.’’
According to him, ‘’If you research on the aviation industry in the world, you will see that aviation is the most regulated industry in the world, because when you pack people up and put them in an aircraft and locked them up and fly them in the air, anything could happen, so the safety standard is very high and rigid. But in Nigeria, the safety standard is very porous, is not just about building airports and repaint buildings but is all about safety, quality of buildings you have at the airports that matter.  If the airspace is not secured and the airports are beautiful, wonderful and all that, it does not help the matter, so what the government is doing is to attack the problems from the surface in reconstructing airports and all that, but are paying lip service to the issue of safety in the air or safety of the aircraft. The approach is that public officers in the aviation industry should think about the airline business because it could be anybody, because of much corruption in the system, officials close their eyes to latent and patent irregularities. People just come in from anywhere India, from China and dump used aircraft in our airspace, they give money to government officials, they just go and certify those aircraft as being airworthy. Now is my family, it could be anybody’s family tomorrow and those who are charged with the responsibilities of making sure that our aircraft and airspace are safe, if they close their eyes and just take money and certify these aircraft as being airworthy, then who knows who is going to be a victim next.’’ But few days later, Associated crashed and 13 lives were lost, if these trend continues this way who is next.
Meanwhile, the management of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital is set to conduct DNA test and autopsy on the dead bodies.
Meanwhile,  one of the early callers at the crash site said the plane took off from the Associated airline base around the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) and was struggling to keep pace in the air before going down eventually.
“We saw it when it took off but it was moving in a zigzag manner, as if it wants to turn back but it seems hard for the pilot. It looks like when a driver is struggling with a bad engine car’’, he said.
The Nigerian aviation regulatory authorities should sit up and do the work well¸ as the safety standards Nigerian aviation industry is very poor. In the words of Barrister Ibe, is not just about building airports and repainting buildings, but is all about safety, quality of buildings at the airports do not matter because, If the airspace is not secured and the airports are beautiful, wonderful and all that, it does not help the matter. This is because if the people who will fly through the airports are not there, the building of airports or remodeling of airports will be useless.
 
 

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The many sins of Stella Oduah, Minster of Aviation

The many sins of Stella Oduah, Minster of Aviation
By Franklin Ihejirika
In the past few months, the aviation industry has been dogged with controversies ranging from the October 3rd Associated Airline plane crash in Lagos which claimed the lives of about 15 people on board and the incessant incidents that followed afterwards.
But all these anger and backlash was compounded by the issue of the moment, the brewing car purchase scandal involving the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Minster of aviation, Princess Stella Oduah.
Following the Associated Airline plane crash in Lagos, the Minster incurred the ire of Nigerians on her comment that the Associated Aviation Services plane crash of October 3, 2013 at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, MMA, Lagos was an act of God.
The Minster of Aviation has in the past been accused of shoddy deals in the remodeling of the airports across the country, especially in the area of the bidding process of the contracts which some aviation stakeholders said was not bidded for and the poor and substandard materials used in the construction works, including the non disclosure of the cost of the remodeled airports apart from the GAT, Lagos.
The national leader of All Progressive Congress (APC) and former governor of Lagos state, Bola Ahmed Tinubu  had earlier criticised the aviation authorities saying that, “Nigeria’s Aviation is a risk, we have never allowed professionals to run the Aviation industry, and we created too much bureaucracy, kinsman ship, ethnicity and mediocrity to intervene in our decisions. We play with the lives of Nigerians, we have no infrastructure, and this runway that we landed on is one of the worst in the world. It does not meet world standards, you allowed non professional, fraudsters, corruption, to dominate, the ministry. Ministry should have nothing to do with all agencies. The professionals in the ministry of aviation should be adequately trained; they should be trained and retrained to meet the world standards, the independence of decisions.”
Before now, she was accused of preventing airlines from flying into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. But she denied the allegations adding that  she had never at any time  ordered some foreign airlines, particularly Emirates, Etihad and Turkish airlines not to  operate into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
 
This is coming just as The Patriots, an association has joined in the call for her  immediate sack  for corruption, incompetence and negligence of duties.
The Patriots in a letter to the presidency signed by Rose Ibekaku called for the immediate sack of the Minister of aviation who they accused of collecting  the sum of N158m each from the accounts of aviation agencies like the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, (NAMA), NCAA, FAAN and other agencies under her watch.
Ibekaku in the memo alleged that the deductions have successfully crippled the operations of the agencies concerned to the extent that paying staff entitlements have recently become a herculean task.
Oduah was also purported to have a stake in Price Waters Coopers, PWC, which audited various aspects of four agencies at N250m each.
According to the document, “Price Waters Coopers, PWC, has audited various aspects of four agencies under the Ministry’s financial operations for at least four times. As we speak PWC staff, young boys and girls who have hardly graduated from university are on ground at the Parastatals offices since January this year to date looking for God knows what.”
“The Minister usually fixes the audit fee to be paid by the aviation agencies to PWC for these phony consultancy audits at about N250m each, totaling to a whopping sum of N1bn on each occasion for FAAN, NCAA, NAMA and AIB. Sequel to our investigations, we have discovered that just recently, World Bank cancelled a long existing training grant to the NCAA because of the minister’s illegal over-bearing influence on the agency. Usually, the World Bank does only provide funds for the training, but also conducts the training itself. It’s shocking that Madam Minister in her bid to scoop every available kobo from the ministry and its agencies she directed that world bank to monitise it and put the funds under her supervision.” , the Patriots noted
The allegations of the Patriots is also coming on the heels of the recent revelations by Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP)  that the Minister and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) breached the Public Procurement Act in the purchase of two armoured BMW cars for the Minister.
More so, it was discovered that apart from the two armoured cars, the NCAA purchased 52 other “operational vehicles” which exceeded the N240 million approved in the 2013 budget.
The BPE revealed to the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation led by Hon. Nkiruka Onyejocha investigating the controversial purchase of the two armoured BMW cars for the Minister that the NCAA spent N623million on 54 cars, instead of N240million on 25 cars (excluding the BMW armoured cars) as appropriated in the 2013 budget.
According to the DG of BPP, Engineer Emeka Eze, who was represented Mr. Ayo Adedigbe, at the House Committee’s  probing stated that contrary to section 15 and other relevant sections of the Act establishing the BPP, the Due Process office and the civil society were not involved in the procurement process of the cars.
He explained that, no request letter was sent to BPP for the purchase of the vehicles, adding that  a contract involving such huge sums of money can only be approved by the  Federal Executive Council (FEC) as the Minister has no powers to approve any contract beyond N100 million.
Adedigbe cited a circular signed by the former Head of Service, Ahmed Yayale, drawing the attention of public servants to section 19 (2) of the Public Procurement Act to buttress his point.
According to him, “A circular issued on the 11th of March, 2009 and signed by the then Head of Service, Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, directs that such a contract should have been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), under section 19(2) of the Public Procurement Act.”
In his presentation at the panel, former acting director general of NCAA, Mr. Joyce D. Nkemakolam who is now the director of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards (DAS)  who was the acting director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at the time of the transaction from April 14 to August 14, 2013 when the contract for the purchase of the vehicles was done between First Bank of Nigeria, Coscharis Motors and NCAA, disclosed that the agreement was signed for the purchase of the two BMW cars at the rate of N127million each and 52 other “operational vehicles” were also procured at a total cost of N623million.
Nkemakolam explained that the deal between Coscharis and FBN, was that the BMW armoured cars bought at N255m at the rate of N127.575 each, would be paid in installments, adding that NCAA would pay N23.249.181 million monthly to Coscharis for the two cars through FBN.
He noted that the NCAA, besides the two vehicles for the Minister, also on 13th August, 2013, contacted Metropolitan Motors and other car companies to supply 17 vehicles for N78m at the rate of N4.5m   each. Toyota Hilux cars for N81million at the rate of N5.428m   each; 14 Toyota Prado Jeeps at the rate of N14million each and N12m and a Toyota Land Cruiser GX, for N15m, rising to a total of  N387.938million.
Speaking earlier, the director-general of the NCAA, Capt. Fola Akintuotu, exonerated himself that he was not  in charge  of affairs when the transaction  took place.
Akintuotu stated that he assumed duties on August 14, after the expenditure had been done.
Joe Obi, the Aviation Minister’s special assistant on the media,  who confirmed the purchase claimed that “the vehicles were purchased to protect the minister from some external threats.” ‘“Yes, it is true that some security vehicles were procured for the use of the office of the honorable minister in response to the clear and imminent threat to her personal security and life following the bold steps she took to reposition the sector”, Obi said.
According to Obi, ‘“when she came on board as the minister, she inherited a lot of baggage in terms of the concession and lease agreements in the sector, which were clearly not in the interest of the government and people of Nigeria. And so, she took bold steps and some of these agreements were reviewed and some were terminated, and these moves disturbed some entrenched interests in the sector, and within this period, she began to receive some imminent threats to her life; therefore, the need for the vehicles.”
 Obi stated that,  “It should be noted that these vehicles are not personal vehicles and were not procured in the name of the honorable minister; they are utility vehicles and are for the office of the minister, and if she leaves the office, she will not be taking the vehicles along with her.”’
The lawmakers had earlier rejected the presentation from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, Mr. George Ossy, who represented the Minister and insisted that the Minister must appear in person next Tuesday.
The Permanent Secretary had explained that the Minister was away to Israel on official assignment and would not return until Monday.
While declaring open  the investigation, Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, warned that the House would not tolerate a violation of the Constitution, the Appropriation Act, 2013(Budget 2013)  and relevant laws in respect of the purchase of the said cars.
The Speaker, who was represented at the investigative hearing by the Deputy Leader of the House, Hon. Leo Okuweh Ogor(PDP-Delta), described the transaction as unfortunate.
As the controversy rages on the car purchase scandal, President Goodluck Jonathan had on Tuesday issued a query to the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah over the N255 million armoured cars scandal involving her and the NCAA.
President Jonathan had also on Wednesday set up a three-man administrative panel of enquiry to probe the embattled Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, over the purchase of two bullet-proof BMW cars worth $1.6m (about N255m) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on her orders.
Members of the panel include Alhaji Sali Bello, a former Head of Service of the Federation, who will serve as chairman; Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.), the National Security Adviser; and Air Vice Marshal Dick Iruenebere (Rtd.).
According to the presidential spokesman Reuben Abati, the panel would, among others, ascertain whether the procurement of the vehicles followed due process, ascertain the purpose of procurement and inquire into any other incidental matter. The panel was given  two weeks to submit its report. 
President Jonathan has in the query asked the minister to explain her role in the purchase of the vehicles and the circumstances under which the purchase of the cars were made.
 In her response to the query by Mr. President, Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, stated that the procurement of the cars followed due process and was provided for in the NCAA 2013 budget.
In her defence titled: Executive Summary on the Procurement of NCAA operational vehicles, Oduah maintained that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, is the statutory regulator of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Industry charged with oversight responsibilities over all civil aviation operations in the country, including safety, security and strict compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, SARPs, and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, NCARs.
According to her, “towards the effective implementation of its statutory regulatory responsibilities, therefore, it is imperative that the NCAA is fully equipped with highly specialised tools and facilities, including adequate operational vehicles to cover all 22 national airports and over 400 airstrips. In keeping with standard practice, provision is therefore made annually for the replacement of obsolete, inadequate and unreliable monitoring equipment. In the 2013 budgetary appropriation, provision was made for the procurement of specialised equipment (including operational vehicles) to complement and in some cases replace obsolete ones.”
“Furthermore, the fact that NCAA, as the regulator of the industry, often plays host to dignitaries from ICAO, IATA, US FAA, AFRAA, AFCAC BAGASO, CANSO, ACI and a host of others makes it necessary to have specialised operational vehicles..With regard to the procurement of additional operational vehicles (including BMW Security Vehicles), the following due process was observed:  By letter dated April 15, 2013, NCAA officially requested authorisation from the Federal Ministry of Aviation to procure 56 operational vehicles through lease financing. This option was proposed to the ministry to enable the NCAA make 36 monthly payments based on receipts from Internally Generated Revenue, IGR. The Ministry therefore granted due approval.
The minister explained further that: Based on the ministry’s approval, the NCAA invited Expressions of Interest from all Banks in Nigeria for the financing of the said vehicles. EOI was adopted because the procurement is two sided. First, the financier would have to be selected before the supplier is determined. This is in line with procurement best practices. On May 24, 2013, the response received from the various banks to the Expression of Interest, EOI, request was opened publicly and minutes of the opening exercise was duly documented. During the EOI opening exercise, NCAA got commendation from one of the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, approved by BPP who were invited for the opening exercise.”
Oduah maintained that the evaluation of the expression of interests was held on May 31, 2013 during which First Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC emerged most responsive, adding that on June 10, 2013 the above three banks were invited to submit Financial Proposals and thereafter, First Bank emerged the highest rated responsive bidder.
She said between June 20 and 25, 2013, invoices were received from various accredited motor vehicle dealers during which only Coscharis Motors Limited quoted for BMW Security Vehicles.
On the Tenders Board, she emphasised that on June  28, 2013, NCAA Parastatal Tenders Board approved the selection of First Bank Ltd for the Lease Financing as well as Metropolitan Motor Vehicles and Coscharis for the supply of the vehicles as all necessary approvals  were duly  sought  and  obtained accordingly.
Between July 8, 2013 to August, 12, 2013 various meetings were held with First Bank Ltd, contract agreement was signed and necessary documentation executed, she said.
“Your Excellency is respectfully invited to note that:  The crucial statutory role of the NCAA in regulating civil aviation operations in the country, including safety, security and strict compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs).The need for NCAA to be fully equipped with highly specialized tools and facilities (including operational vehicles) to enable the effective implementation of its statutory functions. The procurement of specialized operational vehicles is duly provided for in the NCAA 2p 13 (IGR) Budget and the need for adopting installment lease payments over36 months. That Due Process was followed in the procurement of the said operational vehicles. Please your Excellency my continued loyally and esteemed regards”, the minister concluded the answer to her query.
It would be recalled that Captain Dele Ore has lampooned the aviation minister for taken upon herself the safety regulation of the industry, stressing that, “when you dabble in to what is not your area of competency, you are bound to expose your ignorance. When you assume responsibility that is not yours, the tendency is misinformation and confusion.”
According to captain Ore, this is against international best practice and counter to ICAO expectation from member states. The summary of this is that the state exacts unnecessary interference and undue influence in safety regulation instead of allowing the regulatory authority to perform her statutory functions.
 
Although Oduah has erred in many areas, but you cannot take it away from her, her determination and resilience in the airport remodelling process. The remodeling of airports, the aeroptropolis project and general transformation that is ongoing in the aviation sector. The battle with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airline over slot allocation at Heathrow Airport in London which forced Arik Air to suspend its Heathrow operations. The various battles with airport concessionaires like, Maevis Nigerian Limited, AIC Limited, Bi Courtney Aviation Services Limited among others.
Maevis was managing the revenue of FAAN, but FAAN said that the agreement was lopsided against the agency to the extent that the agency did not know how much that accrued in its coffers as Maevis every months gave it a hand out, a situation where a principle is being handed over money by its contractor, but Princess Oduah ensured the contract was terminated.
 Bi Courtney realising that it did not have enough apron to park aircraft at MMA2 claimed that the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) belonged to it and pointed out a clause in the agreement that said no other domestic airport terminal should be built in Lagos without deferring to Bi Courtney. Oduah defiantly made it clear that GAT which she dismantled and rebuilt under one year, did not belong to Bi Courtney. Then there was the AIC Limited which claimed that many years ago a portion of land meant for expansion of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos terminal was given to the company to build hospitality facility. But for years nothing was done at the portion of land and recently with terror threats and the inevitable need to have another terminal at the Lagos airport, it became unrealistic to build such facility at that portion of land and Stella Oduah overruled that quest.
 
The minister before her appointment as minister of the federal republic known as addressed as Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, but after her confirmation as minister, she dropped Ogiemwonyi her husband name.
She was born to Igwe D.O. Oduah of Akili-Ozizor, Ogbaru L.G.A. in Anambra State on January 5, 1962.
 Oduah received her Bachelors and Masters Degree (in Accounting and Business Administration respectively) in the United States. Upon her return to Nigeria in 1983, she joined the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
In 1992, she left the NNPC to establish the Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Limited (SPG), an independent marketer of petroleum products in Nigeria.
She is married to the former Minister for Works, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyiand has children.
She was confirmed a minister and sworn in on July 2, 2011 and was deployed to the Ministry of Aviation on July 4, 2011.
She was also active in the political campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan where she served as his campaign’s Director of Administration and Finance.
 
 
 
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The many travails of Dana Air

The many travails of Dana Air
By Franklin Ihejirika
The past one year and four months has been a trying time for the management of Dana Airlines following the June 3rd 2012 fatal crash in Iju Isaga area of Lagos that claimed the lives of 153 passengers and crew members on board, including the ground victims.
Since after the fatal accident, Dana Air has been walking on tight rope, battling for survival amidst numerous challenges, sanctions, and compensation saga among others.
In the history of the aviation industry in Nigeria, most of the airlines that have been involved in major crashes never survived it like Bellview, Sosoliso, ADC and others. Bellview survived for a little while with life threatening injuries sustained after payment of compensations, it died, ADC managed to survive the first crash but could not survive a second crash, Sosoliso could not pay compensation and was not allowed to operate. But Dana is braving the odds, managing to stay afloat for now, but is always plagued by safety concerns over its incessant mechanical problems which could be disastrous if unchecked.
 
After so many suspensions, Dana Air has been resilient, striving to survive against all odds, but despite all its attempt to survive, the ghost of June 3rd,   2012 has continued to haunt the airline as no fewer than 54 families are still in court in US over the June 3rd crash, the issue of compensation of ground victims is still pending, including that of the passengers. All these problems have continued to weigh down the airline coupled with incessant cases of air returns. The worst is that most of the air returns are mechanical problems which may easily lead to major crashes.
In Aviation, an air return is a safety precaution taking by pilots to return the aircraft back to base due to adverse weather or some other unforeseen problems to save the lives of passengers on board instead of taking unnecessary risks.But in the case of Dana, most of its air return is as a result of mechanical problems and engine failures.
While announcing the suspension of Dana operations, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said that the operations of the airline was grounded in order to conduct operational and mechanical audits on the airline, following an air return it had on its Port Harcourt-Lagos route  on the week of the Associated Airline crash has raised some safety concerns over its operations.

The spokesman for the agency, Mr. Fan Ndubuoke, said the aircraft was about 30 miles out of Port Harcourt Airport when I it developed faults and had to make an air return, adding that the circumstances surrounding the air return appears to be “grievous” and calls for further investigations by the regulatory authority.

Speaking also on the incident, the media assistant to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joe Obi  said the airline whose aircraft crashed in Iju Ishaga Lagos on June 3, 2012 killing more than 153 souls on board have been having series of incidents within the “past few months and weeks”.

He disclosed that  the grounding of the airline’s operations was to carry out an audit on the operations of the airline.

Information available indicated that since the first ban on the operations of the airline was lifted by the federal government, the airline has recorded several air returns which are mainly mechanical problems.

Speaking  on the suspension of Dana Air operations for the third time, Yakubu Dati, the coordinating spokesman of all the aviation parastatals while denying that the regulatory authority is not selective in their judgement on Dana Air, stated that the regulatory authority supervises aviation just like the Police and VIO on the street. According to him, they work based on the information available to them and is based on such information available that steps are taken and above all the consideration is safety and ultimately to save lives.
According to him: ”Even though they had air returns, but the issue is what was the cause of the air return, other airlines that had air return, the cause was either bad weather or other things, like the Arik Air that was heading to Calabar late and when they got there, the airspace was closed, because the airport do not operate night operation, so that one is different. For Dana aircraft, the preliminary report showed that the problem has to do with engine and what happens within the confines of the airline, there is need to take appropriate actions.’’
Dati explained further that the clamping down on Dana is not because of the air return, but because of mechanical problems, adding that the issue is whether the airline is doing what they are supposed to do.
The audit is going to last as long as it takes to certify the airline operations, because the priority is safety, the regulatory authorities are not ready to compromise on anything for safety, he said.
‘’This not the first time we are suspending or clamping down on any airline, remember we have done that severally in the past, you will recall that we have to stop the aircraft carrying Governor Amaechi of River state and that of governor Oshiomhole of Edo state and others, there is  a section in our regulations that deals with the issue of safety and most times people view it under the political microscope and misinterpret our actions. We have been vindicated with what happened to Associated Airline as regards to manifest, you could have imagined what could have happened in that case if there is no manifest and those are some of the issues we have to contend with’’ Dati emphasised.
In an interview, Joe Obi, the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Aviation Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah disclosed that the suspension of Dana Air operations is going to last as long as it takes to conduct operational and maintenance audit on the airline.
“There is no time limit, it could be tomorrow, it could be a week time, it could be a month time, but it will last as long as it takes to effectively carry out the required maintenance and operational audit of the airline. That is why their operation was suspended in the first place, so once we conclude that, then going forward will be the next step”, Obi said.
Commenting on why Dana Air was singled out in the audit instead of also including other airlines that are operating one or two aircraft in the audit , the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Aviation  noted that, ‘’we are not carrying out operational audit on Dana because it has one or two aircraft, there nothing that says that somebody cannot have one aircraft, the important thing in the sector is that even if you have one aircraft, or two, all of them most be very airworthy and operate very safely, that is the most important thing, is not the number of aircraft that determines the level of safety, you can have 100 aircraft or one aircraft, our interest in aviation is to ensure that all aircraft in any airline fleet, whether one or 100 are all airworthy and operated very safely, that is our concern. So the suspension of Dana operations has nothing to do with whether they have one aircraft or more or other airlines that are operating one or more aircraft.
Speaking also on the criteria for the planned bailout for domestic airline, obi  said that is left for the authorities to come out with the criteria on the bailout of some of the domestic airlines, ‘so you have to wait for us to come out with the criteria’. 
The Dana suspension problem started first on Monday June 5th, 2012, when the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended the airline operations following its June 3rd crash in Lagos.
It would be recalled also that the AOC of Sosoliso Airline was suspended in 2005 when an aircraft belonging to the airline crashed at the Port Harcourt International airport.
The NCAA in the case of Dana had then confirmed the suspension of its AOC pending investigation into the immediate and remote cause of the crash.    
After thorough investigation into the crash, on September 5th 2012, the federal government lifted the suspension of the Operating Licence of the airline which was suspended following the June 3rd crash in Lagos.
The lifting of the suspension followed government’s satisfaction with the air-worthiness of the airline after a rigorous technical, operational and financial audit of the airline.
Obi had explained then that by this development, Dana Airline is free to resume its normal commercial flight operations.
He concluded that government will however continue to strengthen its oversight and regulatory functions to ensure that all airlines operating in the country, including Dana adhere strictly to safety procedures as required by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act and all other relevant local and international regulations that ensure and promote sustainable air safety.
On Wed, 3 Oct 3rd 2012, Dana Air  began its test flight in preparation for resumption of scheduled passengers’ flight operations. The test flight will be followed by a demonstration flight, and in January 4th 2013, the airline recommenced flight operations again, after the June 3rd crash. But the lifting of the suspension was short-lived as the NCAA again on Saturday, 16th March, 2013, suspended its operations again.  
It was learnt that the government was not satisfied with the return of the airline’s AOC by the NCAA and the approval by the ministry.
On July 2012, the Accident Investigation Bureau released preliminary investigation into the crash in Iju Ishaga area of Lagos which indicated double engine failure as the immediate cause of the crash.
 The report released by AIB and signed by Captain M. S Usman, the Chief Executive Officer of AIB, stated that ‘’during the period of 1537 and 15:41 the flight crew engaged in pre-landing tasks including deployment of the slats, and extension of the flaps and landing gear. At 15:41:16 the first officer (FO) inquired, “both engines coming up?” and the captain (Capt) replied “negative.” The flight crew subsequently discussed and agreed to declare an emergency.  At 1542:10, DANA 992 radioed an emergency distress call indicating “dual engine failure . . . negative response from throttle.”
 
Meanwhile, some aviation experts has called on the management of Dana to re-fleet their aircraft as what is happening shows that the aircraft in the airline’s  fleet are old which is responsible for its continues mechanical problems despite its maintenance.
The experts who do not want his name in print for obvious reasons urged the airline to renew their fleet or suspend operations if it cannot afford to do that so as to save the nation another fatal crash, stressing the earlier crash stated from reported incidences like this and ignored and it resulted to a fatal crash.
Just recently, the management of the airline disclosed its plans to increase its fleet of aircraft from the present five to seven, stressing that it has applied to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to commence regional flight operations soon.
The head, corporate communications, Mr. Tony Usidamen said that the airline would increase the fleet by December as talks were already ongoing with Boeing Aircraft Manufacturer on the possibility of acquiring Boeing 733-500 to add to its fleet.
Reacting to the suspension of the airline operations, Usidsamen expressed shock on the suspension of its operations
He pledged that the management of the airline will co-operate with the regulatory authorities in carrying out the audit on the airline.
This development was followed by the refund of passengers who have purchased tickets from the airline.
As the NCAA audit Dana yet again, the question here is whether Dana will manage again to scale through, but whether it scales though or not, the safety of the flying public should be paramount in all considerations as the nation cannot afford any other crash again.  
 
 
 
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Strengthening economic cooperation between Nigeria, Israel

Strengthening economic cooperation between Nigeria, Israel
 
Franklin Ihejirika in this write up examines the benefits of the recent Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) signed between Nigeria and the State of Israel, its implications for the airline industry and for the Christians who goes on annual Pilgrimage to Israeli among other economic benefits.  
 
With the recent Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) signed between Nigeria and the State of Israel, the stage is now set for greater economic ties and promotion of air services between the two countries as the agreement will allow direct flights between the two nations, thereby eliminating the long stopovers in neighbouring countries.
The land mark agreement with the State of Israel will not  only be beneficial to Nigerian Christian pilgrims who spent hours on transit on their way to Israel on pilgrimage, but will also open another lucrative route for Nigerian airlines that will be designated on the route, including other business related matters.  
With the signing of this BASA, the State of Israel has joined three other Middle East nations that have signed the same agreement with Nigeria.
Commenting on the BASA with the State of Israel, an aviation consultant and the chief executive officer of Belujane Konsult, Chris Aligbe noted that the successful signing of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) would bring down the cost of travelling to the holy land on pilgrimage and also empower Nigerian airlines to operate the lucrative route.
Aligbe explained that with the agreement, it would be easier to travel to Israel because the route would become more open now, unlike in the past where flights from Nigeria would have to make special requests before it would be allowed to land in Israel.
He stated that with open air route between the two countries, Nigerian and perhaps Israeli airlines may be designated to operate the route and this would make the fare to the Holy Land cheaper and less stressful.
According to him, pilgrims could now travel to Israel anytime unlike now when the Christian community in Nigeria plan to travel at certain period of the year, but henceforth a family may just decide to go on pilgrimage any time in the year.
He emphasised that at the diplomatic level, the BASA is an indication that there is a marked improvement in the relations between Nigeria and Israel.
“The BASA agreement between Nigeria and Israel shows that Israel is beginning to have more confidence in Nigeria and there are a lot of bridge building between the two countries, which was not so in the past,” Aligbe noted.
In his remarks, the former president of Cabin Crew Association of Nigeria, Olumide Ohunayo applauded the federal government for facilitating the agreement and described the agreement as a good one, remarking that it would enhance cheaper fare to Israel.
He added that a scheduled and direct flight from Nigeria would be more convenient for travellers.
Ohunayo said that government should quickly designate Nigerian airlines to the route because Israeli may not put a flight service to Nigeria, because the country does not like flying to African destinations and cautioned that delay would be against the business opportunities offered by the BASA agreement.
Nigeria’s major carrier, Arik Air also applauded the BASA agreement and said that it would be willing to operate the route if so designated.
The management of the airline added that it had already passed security audit by Israeli authorities, which means that it could fly directly to the holy land when designated to operate to the destination.
 According to the deputy managing director and head of flight operations of Arik Air, Captain Ado Sanusi, the airline  has passed Israeli security audit and was the only airline in the country that has done so, adding that if designated to fly to the holy land, it would fly directly to the destination.
Nigeria and the State of Israel on Tuesday October 23 signed Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) to enable airlines from both countries fly directly to each other’s territory without stop-overs in other destinations
Similarly, Medview Airline has stated that it would be willing and eager to operate into the country.
 This is just as President Goodluck Jonathan and his Israeli counterpart, President Simon Peres have expressed optimism that the BASA will promote and strengthen economic cooperation between the two nations.
President Jonathan who was happy to be the first Nigerian president to visit Israel promised to sustain efforts in tackling terrorism in Nigeria while asking for Israel’s security assistance in this regard.
“I seek the cooperation of your country to confront the security threat from terrorist groups that my country is now facing. There is no doubt that Israel has had decades of experience in combating terrorism. Nigeria can benefit tremendously from your experience in this area,” President Jonathan told Peres.
In his response, President Peres has promised that Israel will help Nigeria in whatever way possible as both countries face the common menace of terrorism.
Earlier before the signing of the agreement, the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah had explained that the agreement is the culmination of 12 months of negotiations between officials of the Department of Transportation of the State of Israel and Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Aviation.
 
She maintained that the agreement will pave way for direct flights into the two countries by designated airlines from both countries based on the Principles of Reciprocity, adding that before now, Nigerians travelling to Israel, including Christian Pilgrims have had to endure the long winding stop-overs in neighbouring countries before being airlifted to the Holy Land.
 
“The Agreement is expected to adequately address the question of imbalance in the BASA between Nigeria and other contracting countries.
 Under the terms of the Agreement, Nigeria and the State of Israel will enjoy equal rights and privileges in the implementation of the BASA.
The State of Israel will join three other countries in the Middle East that have air services agreement with Nigeria”, she emphasised.
 
Before the signing of the agreement, the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Ambassador Uriel Palti has promised improved collaboration with the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) for more robust Christian Pilgrimage exercise, saying, “I will do everything that I can to ease pilgrimage and let more and more pilgrims come to Israel”.
He further assured, “I will work hand in hand with NCPC in order to make pilgrimage easy”.
Amb. Palti had assured that the Israeli government is favourably disposed to ensuring that the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with Nigerian is signed in no distant future.
It will be recalled that before the signing of the BASA finally came to fruition, several efforts have been made by the federal government, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC).
 The Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and  Head of the federal government delegation to  the 2012 Christian pilgrimage, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor had called on the Israeli authorities to fast track the signing of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between Israel  and Nigeria so as to reduce the stress Nigerian pilgrims go through.
Pastor Oritsejafor who was speaking during a courtesy call to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the meeting with ground handlers held in Israel called on Israeli Authorities to push up the issue of BASA from their own side while Nigeria will do her own side.
He stressed the need for the Israeli authorities to facilitate the clearance of Pilgrims from the airport to reduce the stress the go through.
The CAN President while requesting for a permanent permit for Nigerian Pilgrims Desk Officer in Israel, appealed for visa approval period to be reduced from five to three days, adding that the signing of BASA will do the two countries more good.
Similarly, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim had earlier promised to ensure that the signing of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and the State of Israel would be concluded soon. 
Senator Anyim said, “I have noted the challenges, I will put up more efforts so that BASA is concluded”.
While on his part, the Chairman NCPC Board, His Grace Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh while speaking On the lingering issue of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between the government of the federal republic of Nigeria and the Israeli government, the Chairman told the SGF that the issue was still pending and posed a great challenge which according to him was “the reason the second Carrier TAT Nigeria Limited could not fly”.  The Chairman in the Report he read before the SGF “recommended that the process for the approval of the BASA agreement be expedited between Nigeria and the Israeli Authorities”.
But today, all that now is history as Nigeria looks forward to exploiting the numerous benefits of the BASA both for the Christians, the airlines and other businesses.
 
 
 
 
 
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Akwaaba 2013: setting new records and surpassing expectations

Akwaaba 2013: setting new records and surpassing expectations

By Franklin Ihejirika

The just concluded Akwaaba Africa Travel Market which took place in Lagos is gradually becoming the rallying point for the tourism and travel industry in West Africa and by extension Africa, thus setting new records in tourism marketing event in the country by surpassing the expectations of the organisers both in attendance, growth of the event and participation by countries.

With new countries participating in this year’s event like the South African tourism with over 20 tourism partners, Kenya with a very strong delegation and Rwanda that put up the best appearance in the history of the event with its energetic and entertaining dancers, including The Gambia that has always been consistent in their participation in the past few years, the annual travel and tourism expo lived up to its billing as a platform for marketing and networking.

The Rwanda classical dancers made the event vibrant with their scintillating and enchanting performance at the three days travel show culminating into the Rwanda day on the 29th of October.

The event was declared open by the Gambian Ambassador to Nigeria, madam Angella Colly Iheme who represented the former President of Africa Travel Association minister of Tourism of The Gambia Mrs Fatou Mass Njie Jobe.

 

Mrs Iheme explained that The Gambia, which is known as the smiling coast of Africa has a lot to offer, with its cultural potential, clean beaches, arrays of five star hotels and others, peaceful disposition and conducive business environment for investors which is the ideal place to invest in West Africa.

She stated that The Gambia has a long standing relation with Nigeria as a big brother in many areas like marriages, as she is married to a Nigeria, terrific tourist sites among others.

 

At the event, Arik Air emerged as the best Airline in West Africa while the Ethiopian Airlines went home with the award of the best airline in Africa.

Receiving the award on behalf of Arik Air, Ibiyemi Odusi, the trade and sales manager of Arik Air commended their customers for believing and standing behind them despite all the challenges.

She promised that the airline will keep improving on their services to better serve their customers well.

Odusi said, “our customers this award is for you because you made it possible because if you are not there for us, there will be no Arik”.

Ethiopian Airline also carted away the prize for the best cabin crew in Africa plus the award of  the best airport in East Africa, which went to Bole International Airport Ethiopia.

The Airline noted that the award was a living testimony of the service the airline is given in the continent in the last 70 years.

Speaking while receiving the awards, Ato Esayas Woldamariam Hailu,  the managing director of Ethiopian airline international service stated that “am very much proud of the award and is a living testimony of the service we have be given in the continent in the last 70 and we have about 47destinations in the continent of Africa which is by far the largest Africa neighbour  in the history of aviation in Africa by any airline standard, so am very happy to be receiving these three awards which we earned which was an outcome of our service to African continent.”

Woldamariam Hailu  explained further that, “the magic of our success so far is keeping our customers in our heart, we are Africans and we know what an African traveller require, so we serve them, we take Africa to the world and we bring the world to Africa. Africa is our home base and we have the civic duty to serve the continent, if people are serving their home continent definitely the success will come out because of the quality of service as people will keep coming and patronizing the airline and the company will keep growing. So our secret is customer service.”

In other award categories, Serena Hotels emerged the best hotel chain in Africa, the best short haul airline in Africa went to Rwanda Air, best Resort in West Africa went to Obudu Mountain Resort.

 

In her presentation, the guest speaker at the event, a renowned Travel and Tourism research, German based Dr. Auliana Poon who spoke on the topic, “the Paradigm shift in Travel and Tourism and it’s Implication for Africa”, taken from her recent research on the paradigm shift in Tourism.

Dr.  Poon explained the new paradigm shift taking place in travel and tourism, how to understand the opportunities, uncertainties and challenges that this shift is creating and how to discover strategies that could help organisation, countries to weather the storm.

 

She examines the Paradigm Shift in Travel and Tourism, the key drivers and facilitators of the paradigm shift in travel and tourism, its implications for industry players.

 

Dr Poon, explained further that for Africa to succeed, and be competitive, it must develop authentic African experience, must have content and its tourism products must be branded.

In his welcome address, Ikechi Uko, the organizer of Akwaaba African Travel Market revealed that the essence of Akwaaba is to promote business within Africa, and also to know Africa very well.

Uko stressed the need to build trust among Africans, where the continent will become the major market for its products instead of relying on Europeans and America markets.

In his welcome address, the chairman of the Travel Awards and chairman of Ikeja Hotels Plc, Mr. Goodie Ibru who was represented by his son Akpofure noted that the Akwaaba African Travel Market is gradually becoming the most travelled market in sub Saharan African.

He commended the organisers of the annual travel expo for introducing and promoting the event.

The opening day of the event featured the Nigerian day celebration where Nigerian dishes were served to participants to savour the rich Nigerian Cuisines by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), the apex tourism, regulator and marketing body in Nigeria.

In her presentation, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, the director general of NTDC noted that oil is not the way to go in Nigeria but tourism.

She disclosed that since assuming duty as the director general of NTDC, she has commenced the rebuilding of NTDC, to enhance the conditions of service for the workers among others.

Mbanefo noted that the Agency has taking the promotion of domestic tourism as its focus for now and will be starting in the New Year to tour the country, commencing from the North East state of Taraba, to Yankari in Bauchi and others.

The promotion of domestic tourism has necessitated the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with ABC Transport, Heritage Bank, Visa Inc., Arik Air, ABC transport, Reddington Hospital and others, she said.

 

The NTDC boss explained that “the domestic tourism market has very high revenue and job creation potential. If we assume that a low estimate of 20 million out of 160 million Nigerians travel locally for business, leisure, culture, religion or sports annually and they spend only 10percent of Nigeria’s per Capita income of 2, 000 annually, we will have a $4 billion domestic tourism market and hence our focus at the NTDC on developing domestic tourism as the foundation for attracting international tourists.”

The DG emphasised that the situation requires a three-fold strategic imperative for moving forward which include to rebuild the NTDC, grow the tourism value Chain Re-invent the Nigeria’s Tourism Industry.

Mbanefo said that the NTDC has engaged the services of revenue generators to generate revenue for the corporation and to tap into the country’s transformation agenda and to create jobs.

The DG stressed the need for Tourism Satellite Account, the establishment of Tourism Development Fund, opening of tourism desks in all our airports and the establishment of the Green City Project In Abuja for promotion of Eco-tourism, adding that the Green City will create 20,000 jobs in two years when fully established.

Rwanda, the toast of the 2013 Akwaaba was at its best ensuring that there was no doll moment with their energetic and classical dancers. They made the event memorable with their unique presentation, foods and drinks, souvenirs, coffee and others.

Rwanda emerged the best country that participated at the fair, while the airline, RwandAir offered fantastic prizes to its Nigerian-based customers as a way of rewarding them for their incredible patronage in the last 18 months of its operations in the country.

The Airline said that Nigeria has actually made their operation profitable, adding that with the Nigerian market alone, the airline met its target.

prizes were wonin the airline ‘Fly and Win’ promotion as Passengers, who bought tickets in any of the airline’s offices/agents in Nigeria, during the period won different prizes including the Grand Prize of a brand new Kia Rio Saloon car which was won by a Nigerian passenger.

Fif Rurangwa, RwandAir Country Manager Nigeria, explained that the incentives for passengers in the promotion are geared towards rewarding the loyalty of the Nigerian travellers since the airline’s inaugural launch in December 2011.

“We are rewarding    the loyalty of the Nigerian travellers towards RwandAir despite stiff competition”, he said.
At the fair, South African Tourism hosted its annual trade workshop event which was one of the leading attractions of the Akwaaba African Travel Market.

The trade engagement presented a one-stop avenue for South African product owners and suppliers who met with Nigeria trade in order to create a win-win business partnership for both parties and enhance travel trade between both countries. The trade engagement which was well organized by the South Africa delegations saw their Nigerian counterparts queue up from one table to the to get the pass signed by each of the table representing different business interest in South Africa aimed at explaining to Nigerian partners what is in offer in South Africa . It also qualified the participants to participate in the launch organized by the SA tourism. Some of the participants went home with a branded South African bag containing some souvenirs.

South African Tourism also showcased exquisite varieties of South African travel products including hotels, tour operators, provincial tourism boards and the rainbow nation’s national airline carrier, South African Airways among others.

In attendance were hotels like Tsogo Sun; Sun International; Protea hotels; Rezidor hotel group; 54 On Bath and Intercontinental hotel group, including  leading tour operators in South Africa like Syavaya tours; Legend tours, Welcome tours ,the tourism board of Johannesburg, the commercial hub of South Africa and Kwazulu-Natal Wildlife  also  showcased their rich tourism and travel attractions to potential buyers.

On the last day of the event, the South African Tourism hosted a cocktail networking function for the participants to wine and dine in an atmosphere of relaxation to round-off the trade workshop.

The annual South African Tourism trade workshop is part of the trade marketing strategies that have built a robust business travel and tourism relationship between both countries over the years.

According to statistics from South Africa Tourism, from January to June this year, 40,097 Nigerians visited South Africa representing an impressive 15.9 percent increase from the figure of Nigerian travellers to South Africa last year during same period.

As a result, Nigerians are gradually and fast taking South Africa as their leisure and business travel destination of choice.

Other airline that participated at the event include Royal Jordanian Airline, South African Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Rwandair and Arik Air.

In the hospitality business, the Ibis hotel Ikeja were joined by Intercontinental hotel, the tallest hotel in West Africa, African Sun the hotel group known for Amber, Best Western brands in Nigeria and Obudu Resort, Southern Sun and Best Western hotel Port Harcourt.

The fair provided the leading African Hotel chain Protea Group the opportunity to also showcase its new developments in West Africa, as well as its existing portfolio of 11 hotels.

 

 

 

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Relics of Badagry town: Trans-shipment port of slave trade

The search team for the Seven Wonders of Nigeria, tagged’ Naija 7’,  recently visited Badagry to explore  relics of the slave trade and its routes,  including the first storey building, in  Nigeria  among the 25 sites listed in the  quest for the  seven wonders of Nigeria,  Franklin Ihejirika  was among the media  team that explored the  commercial slave trading port.

The entire human existence revolves around buying and selling simply known as trade, going by Historians’ account.
Man’s inordinate ambition to dominate his environment also lends credence to various kinds of trades engaged by him which in a way put him above his environment.
The obnoxious slave trade which remains completely outlawed among  modern trades  played a significant role in defining  the  shape of modern trade rooted in buying and selling.
Badagry, a Nigeria’s coastal town locate in South West flank had a dose of this obnoxious human trade some centuries ago.
As part of efforts to  explore the relics of the slave trade in Badagry,  the   search team for the Seven Wonders of Nigeria tagged ’ Naija 7’ Wonders recently visited Badagry.
The Badagry tour was a great experience indeed.   The exercise was  reminiscence of the slave trade days and the search party team took out time to explore the town that played the big role in the slave trade business which was facilitated by the traditional rulers.
The search team comprised the Journalists, Judges, tour Operators, and officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism and Inter- Governmental Relations.   The team visited the Point of return from where the slaves were shipped to the new  world, the first storey building in Nigeria, built in 1845, the Slave Market;  the slave cells called the Baracoons and  the Black Heritage Museum which is an attempt by the Lagos  State Government to recapture the slave trade story.
The Vlekete- Slave Market was established in 1502 and served as a meeting point for European slave merchants, African middlemen and slaves brought from Hinterlands for sale.
According to information,  Vlekete Slave Market in Badagry was the largest and most  populated slave market in Nigeria with another one in  Calabar called The Eyon Slave Market.
The market described as thriving during the era opened for business every two days with less than 900 slaves sold every week on a trade by barter basis.    In what was described as melting pot for slaves   owners    exchanged them for   mere commodities like iron bars, mirror, cotton, dry gin, whiskey, Ceramics, cannons, gunpowder, gun and other assorted spirits.
Other sundry items that slaves were exchanged for by their masters included, umbrella, gunpowder among others.   One account said cannon was exchange for 100 slaves while a dry gin was exchanged for two slaves.
The slave market houses a shrine called Vlekete and Slave Baracoons ,which serves as   cells.
The Slave Baracoons or cells was as cubic room, 9ft by 9ft  from the ground level to the roof, little window, no  ventilation and built with burnt bricks with minimum of 40  slaves kept in a cell.
When slaves were sold by different slave merchants, all slaves will be marched down to their various cells in different part of Badagry usually along the coast where they remained for months under terrible conditions, chained from head to toes.
Of course, they are to remain in that deplorable state, defecating   and urinating in their various cells until they were released for shipment.   Prior to shipment, the slaves were branded using a very hot iron in writing the slave owner’s name at the back of their slaves.
The Baracoons where slaves were kept were built in the compounds of the traditional rulers which in modern day, is inhabited by their descendants who automatically become the custodian of these Baracoons.
These edifices have been converted to source of income as people are made to pay to enter the compounds to see the cells and the relics of some of the items used in exchange for slaves.
And interesting personality was one Seriki Faremi Williams Abass   sold into slavery at a very young age, but later regained his freedom and became a major slave merchant that sold thousands of into slavery.
Other structures of monument that played key role in slave trade business in Nigeria in those dark ages included, what is later known as Nigeria’s first storey-building built between 1842 and 1845.
The building is adorned with pictures of returnee slave boy, Bishop Ajayi  Crowther, an Anglican Bishop who first translated the Bible from the English Language into Yoruba in 1846. A copy of the translated Yoruba Bible and the English copy were also on exhibition at the building.
Also adjacent to the historical storey building, is an old well where people fetched water from.
According to the building custodian, the well is unique in many ways.   He described it the only well water in the area not salty as other wells water in the entire area are salty.
Mr.  Peter Olaide Mesewaku, the curator of the Badagry Heritage Musuem, told the visiting journalists that   the slaves were made to recite words pasted on the wall written in English and Yoruba in form of oath taken.
The words reads: ‘’I am leaving this land, my spirit leave with me, I shall not come back now, my shackles do not break, it is this shackles that hold the ship down, my ancestors bear me witness, I shall not return, this land shall depart my soul, do not revolt my spirit, go along with me, I depart to that land unknown, I shall not return’’.
In the process of moving the slaves, they were deprived of water so that at the Spirit Well, they will be completely tasty and will be looking for water to quench their taste and will not reject any water offered to them.
Mr Mesewaku explained that at this point, the slaves were moved to the point of no return with local boats which is the end of the resistance and beginning of an onwards journey to the land  of the unknown.
He said among the sites in Badagry, the Badagry Heritage Museum attracts less patronage than the other sites, but added the patronage is gradually increasing as more people are now patronising the Museum.
Earlier, the Project Director of Seven wonders of Nigeria Mr.  Ikechi Uko while briefing Oba of Badagry Oba Dewheno Aholu  Menutoyii, the  Akran of Badagry said  the motive behind the search for the 7 wonder is to inspire  the act of patriotism among Nigerian as  most Nigerians  are not proud of their immediate environment.
Uko, said there was    need to build up a body of locations that are “must see” for every Nigerian and every visitor and images that can be universally recognized and promoted as Nigerian destinations.
‘’It will unlock the opportunity for Nigeria, and the sites, to look good, feel good and create employment. The search will act as a unifying force, aligning all of the people of Nigeria behind all that it has to celebrate, and therefore work together to proudly serve  in their own way, to be able to confidently, meaningfully and sustainably showcase Nigeria to the world as a ‘must  see’ travel destination and traveller experience’’, he added.
In his response, Oba Dewheno Aholu  Menutoyii, the  Akran of Badagry commended the initiators of  the project adding that it will go a long way in opening up  Nigeria  for tourism  growth and development.
The revered royal father said the search, will help to reposition the Nigerian tourism and make the country earn income through the promotion of tourism.   According to him,  ”the major issue ,  is how Nigeria can use tourism to earn  money because oil will not be here forever and as a result, the country should think of other avenues of making money”, he said.

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Nigeria’s participation in int’l trade, exhibitions key to promoting tourism

From Franklin Ihejirika, Lagos

Repositioning the Nigerian tourism industry is a task that must be taken seriously by governments at all levels, including the private sector, if the country must realise its ambition of diversifying from the oil economy.
Apparently however, Nigeria is yet to take full advantage of its abundant tourism potentials largely untapped and underdeveloped, due to lip service paid by government to the development of the sector.
Instead of expanding its tentacles to largely untapped economic viable sectors, government attention is focused more on the oil and gas industry to the detriment of other sectors of the economy that need attention.
However, one sector that remains  a goldmine yet untapped, is tourism.   Promoting Nigerian tourism potential, through participation in international trade exhibitions around the world, has become one of the major marketing and promotional strategies currently being explored by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), to espouse the country’s rich tourism and cultural heritage to the world.
Participating in international fairs and exhibitions has become one of the major avenues countries around the globe are using to market their tourism potential to world as more countries are paying greater attention to the development of this sector.
Speaking on the way forward for the global tourism industry at the 2010 edition of the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, Fiona Jeffery, Chairman of the World Travel Market, did not mince word by asserting that businesses need government support and investment and in some cases, sanity check on legislation, to grow.
Jeffery tasked governments and policy makers in the travel and tourism industry around the world, on the need to introduce friendly measures that will help promote the growth of the travel and tourism industry.
She observed that, many travel businesses have suffered across the world because of wide spread of austerity measures introduced by some governments and the resulting impact of job losses across the industry.
In Nigeria, the NTDC, the apex tourism regulatory body  established in 1992 as the  organ responsible for planning, coordinating, developing, promoting and marketing the vast tourism resources of the country, has been living up to the responsibility of promoting and marketing of Nigerian tourism locally and in internationally.
In recent time, the corporation has used platform such as WTM, ITB Berlin, FITUR, and Arabian Travel Market among others, as a platform for the promotion and marketing of Nigerian tourism potential to the world.
Obviously, this has proportionally unlocked   opportunity for the nation to attract high level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI),  translating  to  generating of over $1trillion per annum in direct earnings.
The prime place occupied by tourism in today’s economic development is incontestable.  It remains a major source of foreign exchange earner to most countries in Europe like Spain, Germany, USA, Britain and Africa especially Kenya, South Africa and the Gambia among others.
One of the  fastest growing industries in the world, generating over 922 million international tourist arrivals in 2008 with a growth of 1.9 per cent in 2007,   Fiona Jeffery disclosed recently  that,  about 230 million people are employed worldwide in the tourism industry, thus contributing 10 per cent of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) also collaborated, with a projection that international tourist arrivals would increase, from 564.4million in 1995 to 1.56 billion in 2020.  At the same time, earnings from international tourism is expected to increase, from $477billion in the year 2000 to about $1.55trillion in 2010 and over in 2020.
Of course, Nigeria is not left out, courtesy of the Nigerian Tourism development Corporation.
The country is making a tremendous impact in marketing its’ tourism potential locally and internationally.
Festivals like the Argungu International Fishing Festival, Calabar Carnival, Osun Osogbo Festival, the Durbar, New Yam festival, among others have attained international recognition due to consistent and sustainable marketing drive.
Nigeria has participated in international fairs and exhibitions around the world, like the ITB Berlin, WTM London, FITUR Spain, and the Arabian Travel Market, to market the country’s rich tourism potential and cultural heritage.
Last year, Nigeria partnered with India to boost its effort in the area of health tourism. The partnership, sealed by the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation with medical consortiums from India at the Arabian travel market, Dubai, would among other tourism initiatives, put Nigeria at the forefront of health tourism in West Africa.
The Corporation recently signed a business pact with the United States of American tour Company, Partnerconcept, for the promotion and marketing of Nigeria tourism and business opportunities in the United States of America.
The President of the company, Paul Cohen and the Senior Consultant, Williams Maloney were both at the Nigeria stand during the just concluded  ITB Berlin, an international travel and tourism trade exhibition in Germany, to hold discussion with the Director-General of NTDC;  Segun Runsewe, on having the company as its agent in the American market.
It also signed another agreement, during the FITUR International Travel Fair in Madrid, Spain in January, with a top British travel firm, Hills Balfour, to help attract European travellers to Nigeria.
According to Runsewe, the Corporation will want the firm to bring its personal touch to the NTDC´s campaign, based on their expertise and experience, “specially crafted to respond to current markets, latest technological and travel trends.”
Runsewe, while appraising the new trend, said the leadership of NTDC is departing from the era of arm-chair tourism to practical tourism development as, according to him, to market a good product, you need a right environment which necessitated the building of a befitting pavilion for the fair.
Recounting the gains of the country at the 2010 edition of the expo, Runsewe said one of the major highlights was the signing of a deal between NTDC and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a British-based travel trade association, which will help Nigeria to enjoy an improved image and marketing blitz within the United Kingdom, Ireland, European markets.

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Curbing workers’ strikes in maritime sector

The gale of workers’ protest sweeping across agency made a stopover in maritime sector recently as maritime workers union embarked on a one day industrial action to press the terminal operators to review up wards, their salary which they said had been due for review since May 2010. In this analysis by our maritime correspondent,  Franklin Ihejirika he takes a look at the adverse economic effect of incessant strike and its toll on the economy.

Recent developments in the maritime sector has made it imperative for the stakeholders to brace up to the challenges of running a modern, world class port operations devoid of congestion where workers welfare will be accommodated.
The incessant industrial action embarked upon by workers in the maritime sector is becoming worrisome, even as it appears the norm in the sector.
But more perplexing is the fact that Government does not take into cognisance the adverse impact of industrial action on the nation’s economy by taking the right step to avert it and save the nation from all the troubles.
It  is either the  doctors turn today , the Lectures at the University tomorrow ;  the civil servants in one state or the other or the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress calling for a general industrial action as a result of government inability to meet up with their obligation to the workers.
Recently, the maritime workers union embarked on a one day industrial action to press the terminal operators to review up wards, their salary which they said had been due for review since May 2010.
The one day industrial action, took its tolls on business activities at the port as dockworkers staged a peaceful protest at the various ports in Lagos, barricading entrance and exits of the ports.
The industrial action had a huge effect at the Tin Can Port as business activities came to halt as movements were restricted to both the clearing agents and other workers. During that period, there was no examination of goods or payment of any sort.
Speaking on the industrial action, Adewale Adeyanju, the President of the Maritime Workers Union in Lagos disclosed that they decided to halt the strike following the intervention of the Nigeria Port Authority.
He stated that, “the terminal operators have agreed to abide by our agreement to review the condition of service for dockworkers. This review should have started since June 2010, but for nine months nothing was done, so that was why we embarked on the strike. With the intervention of the NPA, we are back to work and what this means is that the least dockworker will be earning N30, 000. The allowances and other conditions of service will be improved”.
Yes the industrial action was called off following the successful intervention of the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Omar Suleiman who held separate meetings with the concessionaires and the leaders of the union to broker lasting peace between them. But if this agreement will translate into salary review demanded by the workers who said they are taken peanuts home as salary is yet to be seen.
At the meeting with Suleiman, the concessionaires agreed to address positively all the issues raised by the union. The issue here is that the concessionaires agreed to address the issues raised by the union. The matter here is that the demand for salary review has been going on between the operators and the Union for a long time, but why was it not resolved before the industrial action, even when a 14 day ultimatum was given to the operators by the union, thereby making the strike the last resort for workers.
According to Ibrahim Ohize, the Chairman of Apapa District 1 Chapter of the dockworkers union, the strike affected other ports across the country except Onne Port in Rivers State where the terminal operators had reviewed the wages of dockworkers.
He observed that, “we do not know how much the concession contracts between the Federal Government and the terminal operators were worth, but we want improvement in wages,” he said.
The warning strike may have been called off, but the economic implication of the strike to the nation is quite huge. The strike which affected  the  Apapa port, Tin-Can Island, Calabar and Warri ports is estimated to have  cost the nation at least N1.5bn considering the revenue generated by  the Customs and other agencies of Government every day  on these ports nationwide. This action should have avoided if the operators have reasoned and dialogued with workers and save the nation this loss since they know that the salary of the workers must be reviewed at intervals.
According to reports, the amount is a conservative estimate going by the 2010 revenue figures of the Nigeria Customs Service.
A situation where a day warning strike cost the nation at least N1.5 billion, what will happen if the strike should go on for days, which means the nation will surfer colossal loss. This is an indication that the welfare of workers at all levels should be accorded priority attention so that they can perform optimally.
The union had, two weeks ago, given a 14-day ultimatum to the terminal operators, to review upward the wages of dockworkers or they would embark on an Industrial action, but the warning was not heeded to until the ultimatum expired on Monday the 7th and the strike commenced on Tuesday the 8th of March.
But the question is if the concessionaires at the Onne port in Port Harcourt have reviewed the salary of their workers, what is delaying operators in others ports especially in Lagos with bigger revenue with the highest numbers of importers importing through the ports from increasing the wages of their workers.
Earlier before the commencement of the action, the spokesman for the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mr. Bolaji Akinola, said that the dockworkers should bear with the operators because the money is not just there to pay unless government  review upwards  terminal handling charges charged by the operators, it will practically impossible to pay an increased wage . He expressed optimism that the government would soon respond to a request by STOAN to review terminal charges to bring the operators to profitability.
He stated that the operators are losing huge amount of money daily and as such cannot review the wages of the dockworkers under the prevailing economic situation as it will be impossible to increase the wages of the dockworkers. He said that the main issue at hand was that the earnings of the concessionaires had been eroded over the past five years, making nonsense of their bottom-line.
“You may recall that we reduced terminal handling charges by 30 percent in 2006 at the instance of the Federal Government when we took over the various terminals but since then we have not been allowed to adjust for inflation and the erosion of the value of the naira against the dollar even though the concession agreement gives room for such adjustments,” he said.
“For five years running we have collected the same amount and everyone knows that what one naira of 2006 can buy is different from what one naira of 2011 can buy and that is why we have asked for a review to allow us adjust for inflation, erosion of the value of the naira and the huge overhead that we have to bear”,
The issue here is how much is the concession contracts between the Federal Government and the terminal operators that they cannot review the wages of their workers as earlier raised by comrade Ohize.
According to the President General-General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Comrade Emmanuel Anthony Nted, the delay had caused lots of restiveness among the dockworkers in the seaports and the leadership of the union was finding it difficult to calm them.
He said: “The dockworkers minimum standard agreement became due for review in June 2010 but up till now, meaningful negotiation has not started on the review, despite the fact that one month’s notice was served on the Seaport Terminal Operators Association in September 2010.
“The dockworkers have now become more restive over the issue, hence our 14-day ultimatum for a reviewed condition of service for the dockworkers to be put in place.
“As a union we have done our very best to sustain peace in the industry and cannot be blamed for the consequences of their refusal/failure to heed to this alert.”
It will be recalled that last year the Nigerian Labour Congress embarked on a nationwide strike which crippled the nation economy over the government failure to pay the workers N18, 000 minimum wages. The NLC had earlier demanded N52, 000 minimum wages in 2008 but out of patriotic zeal agreed on N18, 000.
The industrial action was suspended after an emergency meeting of leaders of NLC and TUC, as the two bodies agreed that the new minimum wage must be signed into law on or before the first week of December, warning that if this was not done, the organised Labour would meet to take further action.
Curbing the menace of industrial action by workers on our ports and in every facets of our economy is a task that must be taken seriously by all stakeholders.
Since the ports are one of the major gateways to the nation economy, the Federal Government as a matter of urgency should resolve this issue of workers salary by pressing it on the operators to review the wages of their workers. Government should look into the issue raised by the operators with a view of reviewing the fees charged by the operators so that they can take care of the welfare of their workers. The authorities in the country should rise to the challenge posed by incessant industrial action by averting it and by saving the country from economic loss occasioned by the action.
The managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) deserves commendation for intervening in the industrial action by dialoguing with the Maritime workers union and the operators and helping to end the strike embarked upon by workers.
The sea port terminal operators should consider their services as very vital to the nation’s economy and should always dialogue with their workers on time on issues concerning wage increment before it result to an industrial action, this is because the public is always at the receiving end of such action by the workers.
There is no denying the fact that the Nigerian economy is import based and the ports are of utmost importance to the nation’s economy, it is pertinent that the welfare of those who work under harsh conditions at the ports should be properly taken care of to avoid the issue of industrial action.
Considering the huge amount of revenue generated at the ports, concrete steps must be taken by all the stakeholders involved to avert future strike not only in the ports but in every sector of the economy to avoid losses and embarrassment to the Federal Government.

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