Posts tagged as: nigerian

Nigeria: Court Remands Doctor in Prison for Allegedly Raping Patient

An Upper Area Court sitting at Pankshin in Plateau on Friday remanded a medical doctor, Philemon Brazil, in prison for allegedly raping his patient.

Brazil, however, pleaded not guilty to the offence.

The Judge, Mr Joseph Chollom ordered the remand of Brazil in custody and adjourned the case to May 22 for further mention.

The Prosecutor, Sgt. Singbon Hosea, told court that the defendant committed the offence on April 25 at the home of his victim.

Hosea explained that the rape victim had a history of miscarriages and had been a patient of the doctor before the incident.

“But my lord, on that fateful day, April 25, when he visited the patient as usual, he went too far by forcing himself on her and ended up raping her.

“By that action, the accused has committed offences of rape and act of gross indecency, contrary to and punishable under Section 283 and 285 of the Penal Code.”

He said that after the arrest of the doctor, the police conducted HIV test on him and that the result was negative.

Hosea also told court that after the rape, woman suffered yet another miscarriage.

The prosecutor asked court to remand the accused in prison, pending completion of investigation on the matter


There’s No Boko Haram Resurgence, Nigerian Military Assures

Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, briefing Newsmen during a Monthly News Conference on Defence and… Read more »

Nigeria: Abuja Airport As a Metaphor

Given the euphoria that has trailed the successful reconstruction of the runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, my interest as usual is purely academic, a tall order in a country in which deep reflection about nation building is a luxury. The airport which services the federal capital closed on March 8 with the promise of being reopened on April 19 after a comprehensive overhaul.

There is a general national consensus that for once in recent time we recorded “a remarkable feat”. Well before the reconstruction deadline, new run away was delivered, precisely on Monday, April 17 with resumed flights and operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA. Don’t get me wrong please. We must definitely salute the Hon Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for delivering on promise and for reportedly putting his integrity on the line by vowing to resign if the airport was not reopened.

But lest we forget, this is a run way long over due for a repair almost two decades ago. The received wisdom has it that there is no greater crime than a loss of time. If we could roll out the drums for a belated rehabilitation , it will very well be nice we are also sobered with the knowledge of the huge costs we have so far incurred for the original delay and outright criminal neglect. To dispense with some N5.8 billion earmarked for an airport rehabilitation within a month and few days, must task our cost consciousness in an economy technically in a recession. That is if at all we are cost conscious in the first place. Undoubtedly the opportunity cost of non-repair is as high. But the opportunity cost of the decades long neglect is certainly higher. Sometimes in 2010 we were debating the prospect of building the second runway at the estimated controversial N63.5 billion contract. Almost a decade later, we are celebrating a rehab of an old run way even as we keep a sealed lip on building a new one. Nigeria is often characterized as a mono- economy, relying almost on nothing but oil and gas (accounting for 94 per cent of export earnings and 62 per cent of Government revenue!). Abuja airport is another metaphor for a nation that stands on one leg, sorry, for a nation whose major international airport relies on only (and only one!) rehabilitated run way.

For me the bigger picture of delay, neglect and the recent belated tokenism at a huge cost calls for sobriety rather the recent self praise that we have achieved “a feat”. With feat like this, we can as well say a farewell to ambitious nation building project. Yet Nigeria must learn to be ambitious as a nation. So far with all the official noise, the comprehensive repair of the Abuja terminal is yet to be completed. While we all micro manage Abuja airport, (sorry rehabilitating a runway!) we should not forget that Nigeria parades as many as 26 airports in the country operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). Five of these are called “international airports” namely that of Kaduna, Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu. On arrival at the Murtala international airport, every passenger is ever psychologically prepared that the elevator will ever not function.

While the repair was on, President Buhari launched with fanfare , the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan Job creation and youth empowerment. One cardinal principle of this new commendable road plan for growth and development is to promote public finance aimed at reducing unemployment and under-employment, especially among the youths. Pray how many sustainable jobs are the fall outs of N5.8 billion Abuja airport repairs/ intervention? The ERGP also sets to promote local content. What then is the local content of N5.8 billion Abuja airport repairs? We even ignored the “local content” suggestion by critical stakeholders, in the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), who argued that the rehabilitation could take place with the airport in use. Are we using public intervention in infrastructure development to empower Nigerians and move the economy from recession to recovery or doing business as usual patronizing foreign investors and fueling capital flight and perpetuating underdevelopment? Still on ERGP . This wonderful document is almost romantic about “..placing emphasis on Made-in-Nigeria” as part of the “.. diversification of the economy”. It is therefore mind boggling seeing almost all Nigerians, federal government and the media alike doing generous promotion of Ethiopian Airlines, “the only foreign airline that accepted to use the alternative Kaduna airport during the rehabilitation” having being the first aircraft to have landed at the reopened airport. Haba! Again lest we forget, our national anthem opens with the clarion call “Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey, To serve our fatherland” NOT another country certainly not Ethiopia. Again don’t get me wrong. Ethiopia airlines in a gloablized world is commendably doing very well to corner the huge market share of Nigeria which scandalously kills its own national carrier. But even at that for as long as Abuja repair lasted Ethiopia airlines was not doing charity work but smart business making good money on routes abandoned by other international airlines. Why on earth should we rise in unison with cheap advert for a foreign airline having fun at our idiocy and gross underdevelopment? . Nigeria and Nigerians must certainly return to basics in patriotism and nation building. We sign on to open sky policy without reciprocal flights to any of the countries that have colonized our routes. That is bad enough. But it is a national shame and indeed national disgrace that we now inadvertently promote foreign airlines at the expense of our own.

Many Nigerian compatriots certainly feel diminished that a foreign airline was indulged to land on a runway Nigerians paid for and the first pilot to be so favored to speak to us is nor from Nigeria. Sir Nnamdi Azikiwe who the airport is deservedly named after must be wondering in his grave; what has happened to the promise of independence him and his compatriots fought for.


Economy Would Be Out of Recession By Second Quarter – Central Bank

The Central Bank of Nigeria has restated that the Nigerian economy would come out of the recession in the second quarter… Read more »

Nigeria: NAMA Commends Govt for Return of Flight Operations to Abuja

By Chinedu Eze

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Capt. Fola Akinkuotu has commended the Minister of State for Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika for the successful repair and delivery of the Abuja Airport runway, saying it was a major confidence booster for the air transport sector.

The NAMA boss said by delivering the revamped runway ahead of schedule, the minister was “sending an unambiguous message to stakeholders and investors, both foreign and local that Nigerian aviation industry is ready to do serious business, so the travelling should believe in the administration.

Akinkuotu, who made this remark in Lagos recently, also applauded the role played by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amechi, Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and other cabinet Ministers for their efforts in making the project a success.

“They all showed uncommon leadership here. They rallied everyone behind them. In fact, Senator Sirika worked round the clock. He took nothing for granted. He was on ground in Abuja and in Kaduna all the time. He has been exemplary. That’s why he succeeded,” Akinkuotu said.

Akinkuotu who noted that during the closure of Abuja, Kaduna Airport recorded well over 3, 000 domestic flights said the presence of NAMA’s air traffic controllers in sufficient numbers and the upgrade of landing aids by the agency engineers contributed in making that feat a reality.

He also commended technical and operational staff of the agency for ensuring that NAMA played a critical role in the smooth running of Kaduna airport.

“I must commend them for displaying such diligence. They are well trained and motivated and it showed in their commendable performance. I will continue to build their capacity to enhance our air navigation service delivery,” the NAMA boss.


Economy Would Be Out of Recession By Second Quarter – Central Bank

The Central Bank of Nigeria has restated that the Nigerian economy would come out of the recession in the second quarter… Read more »

Nigeria: How Maritime Fared in First Quarter

By Eromosele Abiodun

Eromosele Abiodun writes that the first quarter of this year was quite challenging for stakeholders in the maritime sector

A top global accounting and audit firm, Deloitte, recently published a report on the maritime sector highlighting several problems bedeviling the sector.

The report amongst others revealed that Terminal Handling Charges (THC), which is the main revenue stream of terminal operators, declined by 22.4 per cent between 2006 and 2016 as a result of depreciation of the naira and inflation.

The report revealed that at the beginning of port concession in 2006, THC collected by the operators stood at $232 per TEU but declined to $180 per TEU by 2016.

According to Deloitte, “The THC is the main source of revenue for the Terminal Operators. This is the payment received from transferring cargo from ship/quay side to the yard for release to clearing agents/customers.”

According to the report titled: “Public Private Partnership (PPP) as an anchor for diversifying the Nigeria economy: Lagos Container Terminals Concession as a Case Study,” during the same period between 2006 and 2016, the terminal operators business was adversely impacted by the rise in Consumer Price Index (CPI)/inflation, with the CPI Nigeria rising to over 177 per cent since 2006. It said foreign exchange (FX) fluctuation also impacted the value of the THC with over 224 per cent FX depreciation between 2006 and 2016.”

The report, which was released by Deloitte Nigeria’s Director of Strategy and Operations, Bola Asiru; Senior Manager, Oladotun Bamigbetan and two others, stated that if the terminal operators were to adjust the THC yearly in line with changes in foreign exchange and Nigerian CPI , the rate should have increased to N185,112 per TEU.

“In real economic terms, the operators are losing revenue by not adjusting their THC in line with market realities,” Deloitte stated.

The firm said the foreign exchange challenges that Nigeria faces as a result of the fall in global oil prices is further pronounced for terminal operators as a large part of their capex (capital expenditure) and operational costs are in United States Dollars. It said the operators’ dollar denominated costs includes equipment acquisition and maintenance costs and payment of lease fees to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). That has been the story of the sector since the beginning of the year.

Apart from the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) who has managed to record some achievements in terms of revenue collections, other players in the industry have had one or two negative stories to tell. From terminal operators, customs agents and government agencies and regulators, it’s been lamentations and cry for government to review some of the policies that has driven cargo away from the Nigeria ports.

Controversy Galore

While operators were wailing, the NCS was swimming in controversy. It started the year with the ban on the importation of vehicles via the land borders and ended the first quarter with the controversial directive by the Comptroller General of the NCS, Col Hameed Ali (rtd) that all vehicles in the country whose customs duties have not been paid, to do so.

The service had advised all motor dealers and private owners of such vehicles to visit the nearest Customs zonal office to pay the appropriate duty on them.

The NCS in a statement signed by its acting Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joseph Attah, said the four zonal offices of the Nigeria Customs Service are: Zone A Headquarters, , Yaba, Lagos; Zone B Headquarters, Kabala Doki, Kaduna; Zone C Headquarters, Nigeria Ports Authority, Port Harcourt; and Zone D Headquarters, Yelwa Tudu Road, Bauchi State.

“The CGC therefore calls on all persons in possession of such vehicles to take advantage of the grace period to pay appropriate duties on them, as there will be an aggressive anti-smuggling operation to seize, as well as prosecute owners of such smuggled vehicles after the deadline of Wednesday 12th April, 2017.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all private car owners who are not sure of the authenticity of their vehicles’ customs documents can also approach the zonal offices to verify their status with a view to complying with the provision of the law,” the statement concluded.

But in a swift reaction, the Senate ordered the NCS to, henceforth, halt the order directing all vehicle owners to verify the payment of their vehicles’ customs duties within one month.

The upper legislative chamber therefore ordered the agency to suspend the directive until it has duly appeared before the Senate to brief it on the rationale behind the move.

Raising under Order 42 of the Senate Standing Rules, Deputy Majority Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who described the NCS circular as ridiculous, said the agency failed to present a clear-cut guidelines on which category of vehicles would be affected by the directive.

According to Na’Allah, the implementation of such ambiguous circular will create a huge discomfort for innocent Nigerians, bearing in mind that it has already caused significant anxiety among citizens.

Against this background, the Senate ordered the NCS to suspend all moves towards implementing the directive and also resolved to engage the Service with a view to ensuring that it comes up with acceptable policies to Nigerians in a typical democratic setting.

“Mr. president, the basis for being here as parliamentarians is to define the rule of engagement between us and those who elected us into this very, very coveted office, to the effect that we would all swear to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law. We already have an existing law called the NCS,” he said.

While describing the directive as ridiculous, Na’Allah challenged his colleagues to uphold the oath they swore to by resisting any obnoxious policy meant to further complicate life for the already troubled Nigerians.

Supporting the motion, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu highlighted the excesses and outrageous policies of NCS as he recalled how the Senate had adopted a motion decrying the harassment of traders in Sango-Otta, Ogun State, by men of the Customs who violently took away purchased items from the market under the guise of non-payment of appropriate customs duties.

He said it was unfortunate that the Senate was yet considering another outrageous move of the agency which he said was attempting to foist illegality on the citizenry in its drive to generate more revenues.

He also said the NCS lacked the power to impose punishment on Nigerians over deeds committed in the past, arguing that even though the constitution vests the National Assembly with the power to make laws for the federation, the legislative institution does not possess the power to impose penalty on anyone over perceived wrongs of the past and much less a mere agency like the NCS.

Cheering News?

Perhaps the most cheering news for stakeholders in the maritime sector was the report that the federal government had indicated its readiness to lift the forex ban it placed on some 41 items in 2015. Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, had in the 2017 Fiscal Policy Roadmap, said Federal Government “will replace administrative measures on list of 41 items with fiscal measures to reduce demand pressure in the parallel market.

Reacting to the news, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) lauded the federal government’s plans to lift foreign exchange restriction on 41 imported items. Mr. Stanley Ezenga, the National Publicity Secretary of the association, gave the commendation in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.

Ezenga said that the plan would boost importation activities at the nation’s ports. He said that lifting of ban on the items would not solve the declining value of the naira, urging government to come up with a more result-oriented forex policy.

“The plan by the government to lift foreign exchange restriction on some 41 imported items is good news for import. “We can now have more import activities at the ports and the various jobs lost to the restriction can now come back. However, the unbanning alone will not solve the problem of the naira. Government should come with a more workable policy to boost value of the naira,” Ezenga said. He said that freight forwarders had lost 50 per cent jobs to the restriction, hoping that the lifting would address the situation.

NIMASA ISPS Code Implementation

Another major development in the industry in the first quarter of the year was the move by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to enforce the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code. As part of the measures to get operators to comply, it shut three jetties and port facilities for non-compliance with the provisions of the ISPS code. NIMASA in a statement said the decision is pursuant to its mandate as the Designated Authority (DA) for the implementation Code in Nigeria.

The facilities are: Heyden Petroleum Jetty Ijora Lagos; Waziri Jetty, Dockyard Road Apapa Lagos and Starz Marine Shipyard Limited Onne in Rivers State. These facilities, the agency stated, have persistently failed to comply with the ISPS code necessitating their closure in order to forestall a situation where security breaches in such facilities will negatively impact the compliant ones.

These closures, it added, are in exercise of the agency’s powers in line with provisions of Part VIII of the ISPS Code Implementation Regulations 2014 under which the facilities were adjudged to be non-compliant despite repeated warnings to remedy the deficiencies.

NIMASA has consistently stated its commitment to the enforcement of full compliance with the ISPS Code especially in the face of growing terrorists’ activities globally.

While hosting a pre-assessment team from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) recently, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside expressed the determination of the agency to enforce the code saying that, “ultimately all of us are working for a common purpose, a safer world through safety and security of the maritime sub sector. If we fix our different corners of the earth, the whole world will be safer for everybody. And so no effort should be spared in trying to guarantee safety and security.”

“All shut facilities are to remain closed until the managers of such facilities correct the identified deficiencies in line with the dictates of the Code as the Agency aims to achieve 100 per cent compliance with the cooperation of all stakeholders. This exercise is a continuous one, “it stated.

Nigeria: Govt to Build Courts in Prisons – Dambazau

By Joshua Odeyemi

The Federal Government is working on co-locating courts and prisons to fast track the process of administering justice in the country.

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau gave this hint yesterday in Abuja, while commissioning 239 operational vehicles and farm implements recently acquired by the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS).

Dambazau said the move was important to reduce congestion in most prison facilities in urban areas.

The Controller-General of Prisons, Ja’afaru Ahmed, said tractors and other relevant implements procured would address the drudgery hitherto associated with the prison farms.


Economy Would Be Out of Recession By Second Quarter – Central Bank

The Central Bank of Nigeria has restated that the Nigerian economy would come out of the recession in the second quarter… Read more »

Nigeria: NEITI Commences Audit of Oil, Gas Sector

By Anyichie Tochukwu

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) yesterday said it has commenced a comprehensive, independent audit of the nation’s oil and gas sector that would cover the periods of 2015 and 2016.

Mr Waziri Adio, Executive Secretary of NEITI, announced this in Lagos at a workshop organised for major oil companies in the country.

Adio said the independent audit was in line with the principles and standards of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

According to him, relevant government agencies were expected to participate in the exercise.

He said the workshop was designed to acquaint participants with the structure and content of the template, the kinds of questions that NEITI would ask and answers expected to be provided by the covered entities.

“This workshop is to seek your views, suggestions and inputs as well as listen to your concerns on how to make the exercise hitch-free,” Adio added.

The workshop witnessed presentations on the EITI processes, methods, principles and standards including emerging issues on beneficial ownership and contract transparency.

The benefits of implementing EITI in Nigeria also topped discussions at the interactive session.

The executive secretary announced that NEITI would introduce a ranking reward system to incentivise participation of covered entities.

He said in the ranking system, companies would be graded based on their efficiency in populating the audit templates such as the quality, depth of information, data provided and quick response to set deadlines.

Adio explained that the system would be shared with over 51 member countries of EITI and multi-lateral organisations, to serve as reference points on adherence to business ethics for major investment decisions in Nigeria.


Economy Would Be Out of Recession By Second Quarter – Central Bank

The Central Bank of Nigeria has restated that the Nigerian economy would come out of the recession in the second quarter… Read more »

Nigeria: Govt Urged to Increase Investment in Renewable Energy

By Ugo Aliogo, Joshua Odebisi and Gloria Onoja

As part of efforts to address Nigeria’s long running electricity problem, experts have called for increased investment in renewable energy sub sector, pointing out that there are a lot of potential in the sector, which the government can tap into with a view to boosting the economy.

Speaking at a recent breakfast meeting with journalists, the Sales Director at Eaton, Africa Region, Malvin Naicker, said there is need for Nigeria to focus on the key basics in the power sector, stressing that the concern should not be on attracting investors and making big plans to build new power stations, when the conduits to the end users are not fixed.

He also stated that if the country does not fix the transmission lines, reticulation and the substations, all of the mechanisms to get power to the consumer and the generating capacity would amount to nothing.

The Eaton boss declared that when the right things are done, the sector becomes more viable and attractive to investors.

Naicker explained that the company is focusing on renewable and solar energy. He stated that coupled with the energy storage solutions, Eaton is able to offer solar as a third or fourth option, He explained: “In many instances, you have your grid and diesel generation, then you can put solar as your third option, when you can store it, that becomes your fourth option for power.

“As a company, that is where we realised that we can add value, even though we don’t do power generation. So we will partner other suppliers for the solar panels because that has become a commodity. But the other downstream elements such as inverters, medium and low voltage switch gear; these areas that we are very strong and can add value to the consumer. The energy storage is a very scalable solution, so it is not only applicable to large businesses or conglomerates, it can really be used for a residential home application, so you can have solar panels, diesel generation and incoming utility, then using our storage as a backup.”

In his remarks, the Managing Director, Eaton, Africa Region, Seydou Kane, said the company is investing in Nigeria for the long term, stressing that Nigeria is a power house in terms of growth and economy in Africa and they are banking on such significant growth.

He explained that apart from investment, Eaton is bringing in products to Nigeria that have high value, fit for purpose and good for the industry, noting that storage is one issue his company has found applicable for the Nigerian market and they are eager to start promoting testing and piloting those solutions to go very fast.

“Timing is also a critical element in terms of making sure that you democratise opportunities for everybody to grow in the country. Our focus is more on the distribution side. We have products that are better tailored to delivering an efficient and sustainable distribution network. Nigeria generates 4 Gigawatts but we believe only 2 Gigawatts is distributed, but we are working on solutions with the Distribution Companies (DISCOS) to distribute more efficiently so that almost all of the four will come to use,” Kane noted.

Continuing, Kane explained that skills are absolutely critical and one of the models that worked internationally, which can be applied in Nigeria is Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).

He stressed the need to bring in new technologies and elements in the technology mix, develop the skill base so that they can groom Nigerians to take over from expatriates and experts from outside who start the projects.

He said: “We must make sure that there is collaboration and plan. We have models that have been applied internationally that we would be able to replicate successfully in Nigeria. There is a significant pool of skills that we just need to tap into and improve with technical programs and university courses. We definitely want to look at those and make sure we move along with the country to ensure those skills are present in the workforce.

“I think from an investor’s standpoint, the number one factor that an investor would look at is the framework, is there an enabling environment for investment to be made in the country and what are the guarantees, how can the potential of the country be harnessed? Those are the elements I would look at.

“The second element is making sure that the government establishes mechanisms to optimise, focus on an area, for example transmission, if it is not liberalised distribution then the country can generate as much as they like, it would not reach the end user and it is basically air; maybe a focus on those specific areas to make transmission better.

“The skillset in Nigeria has been improving very steadily, so we are very encouraged by the opportunity to do so. In the very near future, if we have this opportunity and our business picks up the way we are seeing it, we definitely believe that assets in this country are important and should not be discarded at all.”

Nigeria: ‘Ethiopian Airlines Flew 11,000 Passengers in and Out of Kaduna’

Photo: The Ethiopian

Ethiopian Airlines.

interviewBy Chris Agabi

Ethiopian Airlines was the only foreign airline that operated the Kaduna route when traffic was diverted to allow for repair work on the Abuja airport runway. In this exclusive interview, Mrs Firiehiwot Mekonnen, Traffic and Sales Manager of the airlines, speaks on the impact of the decision on their business, among other issues. Excerpts:

How was the experience as the first international airline to land on the newly resurfaced runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Internal Airport Abuja? Especially that you were complemented with water canon ceremony on your new A350 by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Fire Service Department.

After the rehabilitation, Ethiopia was the first to land. As the pilot tried to explain, it was fantastic. The runway and everything was beyond expectations. The pilot said it was world class. That is how he explained it. I cannot say the technical part but it was good. We were the only international carrier that agreed to fly to Kaduna. So I can say that we actually deserve to land first in Abuja.

As a business, it was a very good thing that we landed first. Beyond that, this is the first time our Airbus A350 is coming to Abuja and it is permanently assigned to Abuja. From now on, we are going to operate with Airbus in Abuja. Again, being the first day that Abuja airport was re-opening and being the first that we brought our Airbus, it was an exciting moment for us.

So why did you decide to dedicate a new Airbus A350 to the Abuja route?

We always want to give the best to our Nigerian customers. We have been here for more than 57 years, giving the best service as a pan-African airline. So we have been here through thick and thin. We have passed through several challenges just like the other airlines but we didn’t suspend our flight. We didn’t reduce our flights; instead we have been increasing our frequencies and our products. You know we are flying to Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Kano. In all these destinations we also have additional aircraft for cargo. It’s not only passengers that we carry. We always give our best to the Nigerian market which is why we are deploying this Airbus to Abuja route permanently.

On the average, daily, how many passengers do you do on the Abuja route?

In and out we do more than 250 passengers per day. But now since we have a bigger aircraft, with a capacity of 343 seats, we are expecting a lot more passengers.

Talking about ET being the only international airline that agreed to fly to Kaduna, what was it that made you take that decision even when the other foreign carriers refused to go? What was your motivation?

Like I explain earlier, Ethiopian Airline is a pan-African airline. We have to be by the side of the government, the public and everybody. So we know that the public needs our services. We did our own inspection on the Kaduna International Airport before we commenced our operations. We advised on what needed to be on the Kaduna airport and they were provided. So everything was okay and that is why we operated to Kaduna.

How rewarding was the Kaduna experience, business wise?

It was fantastic. It was okay. Everything went well. But at first, the traffic was slow. It didn’t pick up the way we expected but later on, it picked very well.

At the end of the six weeks, how many passengers did you process on the Kaduna route?

We processed 11,568 passengers in and out of Kaduna. Out of this 6,456 were outgoing, and 5,112 were incoming passengers.

How much revenue did that fetch you?

In terms of revenue, I have to check. I can’t give you that right now.

The other day the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, opened a conversation with you on the possibility of retaining the Kaduna route going forward. Can you bring us up on that discussion?

We didn’t go that far. We have started speaking with government but we have to do our own analysis. So once we come up with a decision, you will be the first to know. But so far, we are discussing and trying to see the opportunities.

What new services are you offering Abuja passengers?

It’s a brand new aircraft. You can even smell the plastic. But beyond that, it’s coming with more capacity, more comfort, more leg room, more entertainment and more business class seats. We know that Abuja passengers love to fly business class so we are offering more seats with flat beds and all.

Talking about doing aviation business in Nigeria, what would you say are the challenges you face the most?

Just like all the other airlines, we are facing the challenge of foreign exchange remittance. That is our biggest challenge but I hope things will get better.

Nigerian aviation stakeholders have being advocating for international carriers like Ethiopian Airlines to interline with local carriers. So rather than explore new routes, say Kaduna, why not partner local airlines to feed you in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Enugu?

Interlining could also be an option. We are just starting the discussion and we didn’t put all the options on the table on how to go about it.

You’ve been here for 57 years and counting, how is your corporate social responsibility programme like?

We are always doing CSR in Nigeria. We have been doing it. We have been sponsoring programmes, donating to charity programmes, women empowerment, and donating to schools. Maybe I will invite you to some of our CSR programmes so you see what we do in giving back to the Nigerian society. We have one programme once in every two months. Sometimes we donate tickets so the tickets can be sold and the monies used for charity programmes. We do that not only in Nigeria but in other markets we do businesses in.

I like you to do a comparative analysis between Nigeria and your other destinations in Africa, which is the most lucrative for you?

Ethiopian Airlines is the leading aviation group in Africa. We do cargo, we do aviation academy, we do catering and we do MRO etc. We are covering most of the African countries. Nigeria has population that is the difference between Nigeria and other African destinations. The Nigerian market is big. Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa for Ethiopian Airlines.

How much do you make say annually from Nigeria?

Let me just leave the figures part for now.

What message would you like to pass to your customers in Nigeria?

We have been here for a long time and connecting the Nigerian people to the world with non-stop and seamless service with the best modern aircraft. Now we are coming with the Airbus, I hope they will enjoy our services. We are also having promotional fares so that everybody can taste our aircraft. We are offering the promotional fares both on economy and business class to any destination we fly to in the world.

Africa: Improving Health in Africa

editorialBy Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates

April 27, 2017

Strengthening health systems is the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty and disease, write Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates

This week, more than 138,000 vaccinators will fan out across five African countries in the Lake Chad area in a push to eliminate polio in Africa and rid the world of this terrible disease forever.

They will take boats across fast-flowing rivers, ride jeeps along sandy ravines, walk crowded street in towns and cities and navigate cramped quarters of refugee camps to ensure that every child is immunised. Travelling for hours a day, these dedicated women and men will visit children in homes, schools, train stations, and transit points across Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic.

This also marks World Immunisation Week, a coordinated effort to make sure that people everywhere understand the importance of getting immunised to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.

And by coincidence, it was almost seven years ago that the two of us first met in a hotel conference room in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. We were there as part of a diverse group–public officials, religious leaders, business people, polio survivors, and journalists–to discuss how we could work together to stop polio in Nigeria.

At the time, Nigeria had done an amazing job tackling polio–reducing reported cases by 95 per cent in just one year. But it was still circulating in six Nigerian states. While 95 per cent might seem like success, as long as a single child remains infected, children across Africa and around the world are at risk.

Thanks to the effort of so many, Nigeria’s Borno State is now the only place in Africa today where polio is still circulating. It will take ingenuity to end polio there, and it will take persistence to continue reaching children in the surrounding area with vaccines to protect them from the disease until it is eradicated. But we’re confident it can be done. And when that happens, Africa will celebrate one of the biggest victories ever in public health.

Since our first meeting in 2010, the two of us have worked together on a range of other projects to help improve health in Nigeria and across Africa.

We supported the establishment of emergency operations centres in Nigeria and other countries to keep polio from spreading. This turned out to be a blessing during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. When the disease first appeared in Nigeria–an international travel hub that is home to more than 180 million people–the staff of an emergency operations centre set up in Lagos jumped into action and stopped the disease in its tracks. It’s almost unimaginable to think what would have happened without them.

In the state of Kano, we are working with the government to ensure that children can get essential childhood immunisations against tetanus, pneumonia, liver cancer and measles. And when parents bring their children into a clinic for vaccinations, health workers can address other health issues, too, like nutrition, care for pregnant mothers and newborns and malaria prevention and treatment. We have since widened the programme to several other states.

Vaccines are also one of the best tools to save lives in an epidemic, such as the meningitis C outbreak happening now in Nigeria and other West African countries.

And because of the devastating impact malnutrition has on Nigeria’s children – leading to 300,000 deaths annually and causing stunted growth and development in millions more – we have expanded our partnership to include nutrition programmes across 12 states.

Earlier this year, we also helped launch the End Malaria Council, a group of influential public and private sector leaders committed to ensuring that malaria eradication remains a top global priority.

Underlying all these efforts is our belief that strengthening health systems is the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty and disease–and kick-starting a virtuous cycle of health, productivity, and prosperity.

In our work together, we have learned a few important lessons.

First, improving the health of communities depends on a successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction. And it is essential to building trust so parents have the confidence that vaccines are safe and will protect their children from life-threatening diseases.

Second, we must keep innovating to speed up progress. This month, for example, vaccinators will test a new vaccine carrier that keeps the temperature of vaccines stable for up to five days, even in blistering heat. This breakthrough will enable vaccinators to finally reach children in extremely remote areas with life-saving vaccines.

Last, accurate and reliable data is central to any effort to improve health. Data can tell a health officer which communities are running low on vaccine supplies, where there are gaps in vaccination coverage, and which new mothers need reminders to take their babies to the health clinic to be immunised.

An Africa without polio is within reach. So is the vision of getting life-saving vaccines to every child. Success will generate more enthusiasm and support from across different sectors – government, business, civil society, the media – to tackle other killer diseases and the underlying conditions that affect people’s health, including fixing broken health systems.

We know that strengthening health systems takes time and diligence. We are optimistic that Africa can achieve the future it aspires to. That future depends on people working together–across national borders and across socioeconomic strata–to build the better world we all want.

Dangote and Gates are in partnership to fight malnutrition and disease in Africa

Nigeria: NHF Calls for Physical, Health Activities in Childhood, Youth

By Martins Ifijeh

The Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), has called on the government to among other things incorporate physical and health education activities in the curriculum of all private and public schools in the country for children and youths.

It said national guideline on physical activity level and sedentary behaviour should be formulated as this would help in the reduction of non communicable diseases later in life.

Speaking during the presentation of the 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youths, the Executive Secretary, NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, who led the research, said physical activity was a major determinant of NCDs in view of the scientific evidence that regular physical activity from childhood and youth have strong positive effect on heart throughout life.

He said the Report Card, which is the second edition of the maiden edition in 2013 was inspired by the Active Health Kids Canada Report Card, and has researchers from Nigerian universities, research institutes, civil society organisations, sports academies focused.

“The findings of the research therefore call for National Representative Data on physical transportation and sedentary behaviour in children and youths. Advocating and promoting a healthy lifestyle from an early age will help to prevent obesity and overweight among children and youth.

“We also therefore recommend for a national report card scientific advisory implementation panel composed of researchers, exercise and sports specialists, nutritionists, media personalities, policy makers, medical doctors and other stakeholders based in the Ministry of Health,” he added.

Akinroye also called on parents to engage in regulating the amount of sedentary time their children spend while in homes. “For example, they could limit the amount of time their children spend watching television and playing video games to up to two hours daily,” he added.

On his part, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said in view of the task to fight NCDs in the country, there was need for his Ministry, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youths and Sports, national sports Institutes, research institutes, universities, sports academies, manufacturers of sports equipments, and other stakeholders to be part of the campaign for healthy lifestyle in children and youths.

“Globally, NCDs, primarily cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes are responsible for 63 per cent of all deaths (36 out of 57 million global deaths). In Nigeria, NCDs accounted for 27 per cent of the total deaths in 2008, according to the World Health Organisation NCD country profile, 2002.

“Unhealthy diets, tobacco use, harmful alcohol use and sedentary lifestyle are the major clustering factors for the development of NCDs. These risk factors are aggravated by poor awareness harmful cultural practice, beliefs and misconceptions by the public,” he explained.

He said the WHO classifies physical inactivity as the fourth leading cause of global mortality and one of the greatest health challenges and determinants of NCDs, adding that a major concern is the potential for a prolonged health consequences in children and youths.

While commending the NHF and its researchers for a job-well-done, he said the ministry will take recommendations from the research seriously, as it will help in making relevant decisions.

Lending his voice, the past President, NHF, Prof. O. Akingugbe said the report card was a tool to provide research, guidelines, advocacy and a priority action on the promotion of physical activity in Nigeria.

He called on stakeholders to take advantage of the outcome and recommendations of the research in development of policies and its implementation in the country.

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