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Air Travel: Nigerian airspace may be shut over aviation fuel

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The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has warned that the air traffic control may be forced to close the airspace if the pump price of Jet-A1 otherwise known as aviation fuel, continues to rise.

The Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, who issued the warning on Thursday noted that unless something urgent is done to address the current situation in the aviation industry, the agency may be forced to shut down the nation’s airspace for the safety of air travellers. 

Captain Nuhu disclosed this at a meeting summed by the leadership of the House of Representatives led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon Idris Ahmed Wase to find a lasting solution to the aviation fuel crisis. 

This came just as the House directed the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority to do everything possible to dismantle the cartel growing in the industry that had jacked up the prices of aviation fuel to its current price of N670 per litre from its usual price of N190 and the non availability of the product. 

However, the Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure of the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, Ogbogu Ukoha, insisted that there was enough jet A1 in the country to last for 34 days. 

While speaking at a meeting, the NCAA boss who expressed surprise at the sudden increase in the price of Jet A1, said the safety of passengers was key to his mandate, pointing out that with the way things were going currently, he might be forced to shut down some airline and by extension, the airspace to ensure safety. 

According to him, “I don’t want to appear before any committee either here in the House or in the Senate to explain what happened to airline ABCD. So, we must do something fast to address this situation so that things do not get out of hand.” 

Nuhu pointed out that currently, flights were being delayed or cancelled as a result of the supposed scarcity of aviation fuel and the sudden increase in prices which he said had been happening on a daily basis. 

He said that as a result of the increase in the cost of operation of the airlines, they might be forced to shut down their operation; an action which he said will have an adverse effect on the economy of the country. 

However, the NMDPRA Executive Director who said the role of the agency was to regulate the industry and issue licenses to importers of the product said from his records, there was enough aviation fuel to last the country for 34 days. 

Ukoha said further that aviation fuel was one of the petroleum products that had been fully deregulated and is therefore controlled by market forces, adding that the Authority has issued licenses to about 28 companies to import the product into the country. 

According to him, “From our records, we have enough supplies to last us for 34 days plus. So, when we hear about scarcity, all we can say is that we have enough supplies”. 

But his explanation did not go down well with the Deputy Speaker, members of the House present at the meeting as well as the airline operators The Deputy Speaker asked why there should be scarcity of the product if there was enough supply to last for 34 days, saying then there must be a cartel working so hard to sabotage the efforts of the government. 

According to him, “this is a political era and elections are coming. We do not want anybody to sabotage the efforts that the government has put into revamping the economy so far because aviation is very important to the economy”. 

Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyeama who spoke on behalf of the Airline Operators said they have held back from shutting down the industry because of the impact it will have on the nation and its economy. 

According to him, “it is because of this statement that you made now about being in a political era that we have not shut down. We do not want anybody to use us to blackmail the government who has done so much for the industry. 

“Our DG has said it succinctly that safety is of concern in this industry. He also spoke about the cost of operation and let me say that fuel takes about 30 per cent across the world, but in Nigeria, fuel takes about 70 per cent of our operation. 

“What happened in the last two weeks is alarming. From a price of N190 per litre two weeks ago, the price is now N670 as of today and we don’t know what it is going to be mater. The government has done so much for us in this industry with the President granting us waivers. 

“We held a meeting and decided to shut down our operations because of the cost of operation. We owe so much money and we don’t want AMCON to come after us. But we decided not to because we know the impact it will have on the economy. 

“We cannot survive like this for another three days. We had to reduce our operations to 30 per cent because the product is not even available. So, I am surprised that the Executive Director said they have supplies to last 34 days. 

“We are making so much sacrifice here. I am evacuating Nigerians from Poland and I had to pay three times the usual amount and I am not asking for a refund. So, something needs to be done and done fast”

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2023: Buhari may meet Osinbajo, Tinubu, Amaechi, others

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President Muhammadu Buhari would this week meet with all the preidential aspirants of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The meeting was called with a view to reducing the number of presidential hopefuls and also ensuring that all of them pledge to accept the outcome of the primary as was done during the APC presidential primary in 2014.

“The President will meet with the aspirants a few days to the primary with a view to ensuring that there is unity and harmony. He will also meet with the governors separately. The date is not fixed yet, but it should be this week if INEC doesn’t extend the deadline for the primary as we are all hoping,” said an APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous.

“The President has a candidate. How to present the idea to the likes of Tinubu will be the challenge,” he added.

Buhari’s most senior spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, had said last week that the President indeed had a preferred candidate.

He stated, “In a previous interview when the President was asked whether he had a favourite candidate, he answered yes; but he will not mention him because mischief may happen to that person.

“That shows you that the President himself is interested in the process and he has a preferred candidate; but whether he will impose his candidate is what you cannot determine at the moment.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he was not aware of any meeting the President would be having with the aspirants.

“I am not aware of any meeting as of now,” he said.

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Gunmen behead abducted Anambra lawmaker from Governor Soludo’s constituency, hang head in motor park

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Gunmen who abducted a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Okey Okoye, have beheaded him.

After beheading him, his head was reportedly displayed at a motor park in Nnobi, Idemili South Local Government Area of the state.

The incident, which happened on Saturday, created panic in the community, which had been witnessing a series of violent killings since last year.

Sources added that his body was not there and indications were that the killers removed the body.

“The Anambra lawmaker representing Soludo’s constituency, Okechukwu Okoye who was earlier kidnapped, has been beheaded by gunmen; the late lawmaker’s head was mounted at Chisco Park in Amichi community,” a military source said on Saturday.

Gunmen had last Sunday abducted the lawmaker who was representing Aguata II state constituency in Aguata alongside Cyril Chiegboka, his campaign director.

Governor Charles Soludo had said during the week that efforts were ongoing to rescue the Anambra lawmaker from his abductors.

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MC Oluomo allegedly demands N100million to support re-election of Oshodi Rep member

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Chairman of the Lagos State Parks Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called MC Oluomo, is allegedly demanding N100 million to support the re-election of the member representing Oshodi Federal Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives, Hon. Bashiru Dawodu.

Dawodu, a medical doctor, rode on the back of MC Oluomo to win the election in 2019 after series of attempts in the past.

Dawodu presenting his Certificate of Return to MC Oluomo

Both, however, fell apart few months after Dawodu was elected due to irreconcilable differences .

MC Oluomo is said to be angry with Dawodu for not honouring agreements he (Dawodu) had with him prior to his victory in 2019.

MC Oluomo, who is seen as de-facto leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oshodi was said to have vowed to work against Dawodu’s re-election in 2023.

He is believed to be working for the emergence of a former Chairman of Oshodi/Isolo Local Government, Afeez Ipesa Balogun to emerge as the APC’s candidate for the House of Representatives election in the constituency.

However, party leaders in the local government including the Chairman of the council, Kehinde Oloyede Almoof had appealed to MC Oluomo to tone down his opposition to Dawodu and support his re-election.

It was gathered that MC Oluomo did not turn down the fence-mending approach because he said he did the same with Oloyede who was his former arch-enemy.

It was further gathered that MC Oluomo demanded N100 million from Dawodu before he gets his support.

The money according to MC Oluomo is to settle his aides and loyalists, who supported Dawodu in 2019 but were abandoned by the Rep member.

According to sources at the various fence-mending meeting, appeals to MC Oluomo to reduce the amount were rebuffed.

Another dimension has, however, been added to the involvement of Oloyede in the matter.

The sources revealed that the council chairman, Oloyede is supporting Dawood because of his own interest.

Oloyede has been eyeing the Rep seat before his election as the council chairman.

Oloyede’s calculation according to the sources is that should Dawood gets the second term, it would be easy for him (Oloyede) to contest for the seat in 2027.

One of the sources who does not want his name in print because of backlash said : “Oloyede is supporting Dawood because of his own personal interest. He believes supporting Dawood may work for him in 2027.

Continuing, the source noted that Oloyede would rather support Dawodu over any other candidates because others eyeing the seat are first timers, who may want to seek for re-election in 2027.

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