Nigeria accounts for 90 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Anglophone countries in West Africa, a new report by the Ecobank Research team has revealed.

Anglophone West Africa, which stretches from Gambia in the West to Nigeria in the East, covers six countries; Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia and encompasses the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), which draws together the mostly English-speaking countries of West Africa.

The Ecobank Research team in its newly published Anglophone West Africa section of its flagship financial website, AfricaFICC, said economic forecast for the region looks brighter.

It said Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is at last moving out of recession, while Ghana’s growth continues to be strong, and the region’s smaller countries picking up as they shake off the lingering effects of the Ebola outbreak in 2013-16.

The report said the outlook for both Nigeria and Ghana, the second key member of the block, is good in 2018: Nigeria is improving oil production, Ghana is getting a boost from an expansionary 2018 government budget and rising energy production; Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are on the up as their recovery from the effects of Ebola gathers pace; and the positive political outlook in The Gambia is driving economic prospects.

Outside oil and gas, Anglophone West Africa is a major producer of soft commodities – cocoa, cashew nuts, natural rubber and wood – both for regional consumption and for export to world markets. The region is an important exporter of hard minerals, including gold, diamonds, and manganese, iron and aluminium ores, with Ghana the leading gold producer.

It is also a financial hub, having an estimated 39 percent of Middle Africa’s banking assets in 2015 (mostly in Nigeria). Nigeria and Ghana host two of the largest stock exchanges in Africa, in Lagos and Accra, respectively.

The report said Nigeria has developed the world’s largest sugar refining complex in Lagos, and has successfully phased out imports of packaged and refined sugar.

Regional Executive for Anglophone West Africa & Managing Director of Ecobank Ghana, Dan Sackey, stated that, “West Africa is coming out of a difficult period where it has faced many challenges – recession, Ebola, falling oil and other commodity prices – but we are now back on a growth trajectory.

“The recovery in commodity prices, notably oil and cocoa, has given a boost to economic growth, especially in Nigeria and Ghana, lifting the entire region.

“It is essential that West Africa uses this opportunity to press ahead with the diversification of the economy away from dependence on oil and minerals, with a focus on increasing output and processing of soft commodities, improving logistics and using the region’s financial and stock market leadership. Provided West Africa’s governments can maintain fiscal discipline, the growth outlook is very positive.”

“Ecobank understands regional and local business customs, regulations and country-specific risks better than any other bank in Africa because we operate on the ground in 33 markets,” said Dr Edward George, Ecobank’s Head of Group Research.

MTN Group plans to raise around $500 million through an IPO of its Nigerian unit, as part of a deal struck with the country’s regulators to settle a $1.7 billion fine, Bloomberg reported.

The operator is exploring the disposal of as much as 30 per cent of the business, which it will list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Shares will be sold mainly to local institutions and individudals, but non-domestic investors may be included in the process to ensure the IPO is a success, a source told Bloomberg.

MTN is being advised by Standard Bank Group and Citigroup and discussions are still ongoing.

The South Africa-based company, which is the largest operator in Nigeria, faced scrutiny in the country after being hit with a $1.7 billion fine in 2015 for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers, violating a security measure designed to crackdown on crime and terrorism.

It then agreed to conduct an IPO as part of its settlement with Nigerian regulators and met with the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission in November 2016 to discuss the process.

Last month, MTN predicted improved annual earnings for 2017, as it bounces back from a net loss of ZAR3.1 billion ($255 million) in 2016 (its first such loss in 20 years).

In a stock market statement issued ahead of the release of its annual results in March, the company said earnings will improve due to the resolution of problems in Nigeria.

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in its recent reports has revealed that over 1.4 million illegal rosewood logs from Nigeria, worth $300 million, were laundered into China.

The reports by EIA described illegal rosewood logs from Nigeria as one of the largest timber smuggling operations in history, as multiple sources told EIA undercover investigators that over $1 million was paid to top Nigerian officials to release the wood stopped by Chinese authorities.

The reports say that thousands of permits were ultimately signed by the then Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN).

The results of a two-year investigation by EIA, the Rosewood Racket details the journey of illegal African rosewood, also known as kosso, from the remote forests of Nigeria beset by illegal logging to luxury furniture boutiques in China, despite protections placed on this threatened tree species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Over the past five years, the exploding Chinese demand for kosso has triggered a series of “boom-and-bust” cycles that led to the depletion of forests across West African nations. In most of the countries, kosso has been illegally logged in violation of harvest and log export bans, including in protected areas. Precious trees have been laundered into the international market through regional smuggling routes, using mis-declaration and falsification of official documents. The boom began in Gambia and Benin, but as the supply in those countries was exhausted in a few short years, the Chinese traders rapidly moved on through other countries in the region before settling on the one offering the largest untapped resources – Nigeria.

Since 2013, Nigeria has been transformed from a net importer into the world’s largest exporter of rosewood logs, and is to date one of the top wood exporters on the continent.

The unprecedented and uncontrolled level of logging across the country is causing desertification, putting in peril the livelihoods of millions of people, and threatening national parks and endangered emblematic species such as the most vulnerable chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) in the world.

Kosso was added to Appendix II of CITES in 2016, meaning that logging and trade must be strictly controlled and kept at sustainable levels. The results of the new EIA investigation show that the enforcement of the convention faces serious challenges when dealing with transnational criminal networks. The report shows how Sino-Nigerian criminal networks took advantage of an obsolete and opaque permitting system to launder illegal wood using CITES paperwork.

Alexander von Bismarck, EIA Executive Director, explained that, “as a legally binding treaty ratified by nearly all members of the UN, CITES can play a critical role in protecting endangered trees and fragile forests. The international community needs to urgently bring transparency to the CITES permitting process to fight the organised criminals that profit from the extinction of endangered species.”

Mrs. Mohammed was reportedly supposed to start her new position as Deputy Secretary General of the UN on January 1, 2017, but extended her time as Minister of Environment at the request of the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to complete important responsibilities. EIA investigators found that Mrs. Mohammed signed thousands of retroactive CITES permits in January 2017 as one of her last acts as Minister of Environment, and just before she was sworn in as the Deputy Secretary General to the UN.

The permits were used by Chinese importers to release over 1.4 million illegal logs that had been detained at the Chinese border for months, after having left Nigeria in violation of both Nigerian law and international CITES obligations.

Von Bismarck added that, “the power and reach of organised timber criminals in forest rich countries is overwhelming if illegal wood is allowed to be sold overseas without consequences. This is why we urgently need regulatory changes in consuming countries to stop timber shipments based on evidence of being illegally logged, transported or traded. Such laws have already been passed in the US and the EU. This case shows that China has the ability to take action when it stopped thousands of containers of illegal rosewood. But the fact that the wood was ultimately released shows that China urgently needs domestic legislation to ban the import of illegally sourced wood.”

Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa and Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos have been rated among the worst 20 airports.

This is outcome of a survey by renowned aviation organization, Sleep in Airport (sleepinginairports.net). The website ranked Lagos the fifth worst airport in the world, while Port Harcourt was ranked the third worst airport globally.

The criteria used included comfort (gate seating and availability of rest zones), services, facilities and things to do, food options, immigration/security, customer service, cleanliness, navigation and ease of transit and sleepability. The website explained that the airports that appeared on the list of worst airports in the world are those that have the capacity to truly offend travellers.

“Within these terminals, there appears to be a general disinterest in a positive traveller experience. In some cases, passengers are made to stand or sit on the floor as they await their flights. In others, the bathrooms don’t have water, toilet paper, or any semblance of cleanliness,” it said.

“In some cases, the physical structure of the airport is fine, but the personnel are the problem. Got a problem? Don’t expect much in terms of customer service at these airports.

“If you find yourself travelling through one of these 20 terminals, brace yourself. You’ll want to give yourself just enough time to get in and get out. A minute more and you’ll be unhappy and uncomfortable – a minute less, and you risk missing your flight”, it added.

Port Harcourt International Airport, Nigeria (PHC)

It doesn't matter what type of VISA you have, they will tell you it's the wrong one and you must pay for the correct one. Inefficiency is rampant with people repeatedly going through your luggage and asking for $ or for you to do something for them. Virtually every person there seeks to extort $ from you. You will hear the phrase "You have something for me?" over and over. - survey respondent

Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Nigeria (LOS)

Every offical ask you for money. Don't tell them you have cash, otherwise, the customs offical will take you to the dark room. But if you give the money to the Nigerian Offical, you can bring anything on to the plane. - survey respondent

 

In order of ranking, the worst five airports in the world comprised Juba International Airport, South Sudan (JUB), Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport, Saudi Arabia (JED), Port Harcourt International Airport, Nigeria (PHC), Crete Heraklion International Airport, Greece (HER) and Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Nigeria (LOS).

Others are Santorini Thira National Airport, Greece (JTR), Dar es Salaam Julius Nyerere International Airport, Tanzania (DAR), Rhodes International Airport, Greece (RHO), Paris Beauvais-Tille Airport, France (BVA), Tashkent International Airport, Uzbekistan (TAS) and London Luton International Airport, England (LTN).

 

Credit: Daily Post Nigeria & SleepinginAirports

 

The federal government of Nigeria said it has recovered the sum of $64.630, 065 billion from Niger and Benin republic as part payment for electricity supply to the two nieghbouring countries.

Minister of Works, Energy and Housing Babatunde Fashola (SAN) made this known at the 21st monthly power stakeholders meeting in Asaba Monday. 

Addressing heads of DISCOS across the country in the power sector, the minister said generation has hit 7,000mw due to the stable peace in the gas producing area of Niger Delta region. According to the minister, “for the first time in the history of power sector, hydro and gas combined together to improve electricity needs of the country.

“This is a fair balance and now that the waters are going down it is also the time for us to prove our mettle by stabilizing upward, the power being generated. “We have also been able to recover $64.630, 065 billion from Niger and Benin republic as part payment for electricity supply to the two nieghbouring countries,” the minister added.

Speaking further, Fashola tasked Nigerian lawmakers on the need to come up with legislation prohibiting encroachment on the right of way of power lines, vandalization of electricity installations and another that will support collection of bills among others.

The minister appealed to electricity consumers to pay their bills regularly without which DISCOs would find it difficult to provide services, adding that the greatest challenges facing consumers were estimated billings and insufficiency in mater which he said were being addressed by Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC).

 

Daily Post Nigeria

Concerns about safety and security are substantial in Nigeria. Here, crime is high and the police are considered corrupt and inefficient. The structure of law enforcement does not help. Police are run at the federal level despite long-standing calls for state forces. Given that Nigeria has many diverse languages, cultural practices and terrain, the centralised police face many difficulties.

These conditions are conducive for vigilantes – civilians who undertake their own crime control. Although vigilantes can be effective in providing safety and security, their use poses several problems. They sometimes take the law into their own hands and dispense justice as they see fit. Yet in Nigeria they often have authorities’ approval.

The Borno vigilantes fighting against Boko Haram, whose activities have attracted widespread media coverage, illustrate this well. Referred to as the Civilian Joint Task Force, they began in 2013 as a group of local hunters intending to protect their communities, but quickly became integrated into the government’s official counter-insurgency.

With greater knowledge of the local community and terrain than officials, the Civilian Joint Task Force has been successful in identifying Boko Haram members and limiting their attacks. Nevertheless, they have been implicated in abuses, including extrajudicial killings. There are fears that they could evolve into an ethnic militia or be used for political means.

The Civilian Joint Task Force is not the only example. The use of vigilante groups to protect lives and property, with official support, has become part of the fabric of Nigerian society.

Profiles of the main groups

Vigilantism is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. Traditional hunter guards have pre-colonial origins, and were authorised by the British regime during World War Two. The politicisation of hunter guards after independence led to prohibition. However, vigilantism continued, with groups proliferating in the 1990s:

The Bakassi Boys

Originally a group of shoe producers patrolling the Ariaria market in Aba 1998, the Bakassi Boys quickly spread across the city. They were successful in preventing crime. The state government renamed them the Abia State Vigilante Service in 2000, providing them with funds and equipment.

That same year, the Anambra State governor invited the Bakassi Boys to deal with heightened crime at the Ontisha market. Subsequently, the State House of Assembly passed a law to legitimise the group as the Anambra Vigilante Services. A nearby state, Imo, followed suit.

In all three areas, the vigilantes were controlled by an official committee. However, this did not quell executions and other abuses, including political killings. Efforts by the federal government to ban these groups failed, and the Bakassi Boys continue to operate.

Oodua People’s Congress

The Oodua People’s Congress, based in Southwest Nigeria, was founded by Yoruba intellectuals to promote Yoruba historical and cultural research after the Moshood Abiola debacle. Abiola, a Yoruba, won the 1993 presidential election which was annulled by the military government. He was jailed and later died in prison. In 1996 the group’s mandate was expanded to include vigilante activities.

As members opposed military rule, they became involved in political vigilantism during the 1999 election. When former army general Olusegun Obasanjo won, he banned the group.

This ban failed to stop the Oodua People’s Congress from operating and committing violent acts. They became increasingly politicised. By supporting President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections they were awarded a contract to guard the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation pipelines. This contract was withdrawn after Muhammadu Buhari was elected instead.

Although the Oodua People’s Congress’ relationship with the federal government is unstable, it tends to have state support. They recently collaborated with the Lagos police to combat the murderous Badoo cult.

The Hisbah

Many states in northern Nigeria have implemented Sharia law. In 2000, the Hisbah vigilante group was set up in Zamfara and Kano states in northern Nigeria amongst claims that the federal police failed to effect Sharia. When complaints of extrajudicial killings escalated, the state governments set up monitoring committees.

By 2003, laws to regulate the Hisbah were passed. They became a highly structured organisation, operating in uniforms and marked vehicles, and even broadcasting a weekly radio programme. Again, official regulation did not prevent abuses. While the Hisbah enjoy state support, they have clashed with the federal police. This peaked with a federal ban in 2006, but the group continued to operate and spread to other northern states.

Groups in the Niger Delta

The Niger Delta is rich in oil, yet local communities are excluded from the benefits of this resource. This has been the driving force behind the emergence of various ethnic vigilante groups there.

For example, the Egbesu Boys formed in the early 1990s as a response to oil exploitation on Ijaw land. A clash between the Okrika and Eleme communities over land ownership where the Port Harcourt refinery is situated produced the Okrika Bush Boys. Both groups have allegedly gained support from politicians.

Port Harcourt has also seen violent clashes between the Ijaw groups Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force and Niger Delta Vigilante, with the state government supporting the latter. This official alliance precipitated the 2004 Nigerian oil crisis.

Federal attempts to ban and disarm various Niger Delta groups have been unsuccessful.

Vigilante Group of Nigeria

The countrywide Vigilante Group of Nigeria originated in Benue and registered as an NGO in 1999. The group is highly structured and collaborates with the police and military. Like the Civilian Joint Task Force, it has also played a role in combating Boko Haram.

With an understanding of the local communities in which they work, the Vigilante Group of Nigeria has been very successful. Recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill authorising the group. However, its members have not been exempt from committing abuses.

This is not an exhaustive list. Vigilantes cooperate with the police and military amidst farmer-pastoralist conflicts in Plateau state. In Kano, aside from the Hisbah, operates several vigilante groups registered with and funded by the state. In October, the Nasarawa Commissioner of Police announced a partnership with local hunters and vigilantes.

Regulation and bans

Although official regulation has not completely eradicated abuses, it appears more fruitful than bans. Moreover, the effectiveness of vigilantism in combating crime cannot be contested. With enhanced training and accountability mechanisms these groups could provide an important component of community policing.

Indeed, nongovernmental organisations CLEEN and J4A have successfully trained vigilantes and improved their relations with police. Conversely, it has been argued that improvement of official law enforcement should be prioritised, which would remove the need for vigilantism.

But for now, these groups are here to stay.

 

Leighann Spencer, PhD Candidate in Criminology, Charles Sturt University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said the Federal Government has signed financial agreement for the execution of Lagos-Abidjan highway.

Mr Olusegun Ogunkayode, a Senior Information Officer in the ministry disclosed this in a statement in Abuja. The statement quoted Fashola as making the disclosure at the nineth Steering Committee and Experts Meeting of the Lagos-Abidjan Corridor Highway Development Programme. 

He said the signing of the financial agreement was a demonstration of the Federal Government commitment to the realisation of the project. The minister said that road development was crucial to the economic growth of any nation, adding that the meeting was important considering the need for West African countries to join the league of developed nations. 

According to him, West African countries must emulate South American and Asia countries, who have used road development to drive their economies.

Fashola said that the Lagos-Abidjan corridor would propel rapid integration of the region, boost commercial activities, improve social development, create employment windows and reduce social vices among the member states.

 

NAN

Russia has signed a deal to build two nuclear power plants in Nigeria, as Africa's largest economy seeks to end its energy crisis.

Russian state-owned company Rosatom will build one in the south, the other in the centre, sources at the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission told the BBC. The deal's exact worth is unknown, although some reports suggest it is likely in the region of $20bn (£15bn).

It is one of a number that Rosatom has been eyeing on the continent. The company is also involved in discussions in Ghana and South Africa. An initial agreement with the latter to build a plant was ruled unlawful in a South African court earlier this year.

The deal in Nigeria was reached after a long period of negotiation, with the two countries signing their first intergovernmental nuclear co-operation agreement in 2009. Nigeria hopes the plants, which will initially be operated by Rosatom before they are handed over, will help deal with the country's energy deficit.

According to World Bank figures , more than 40% of the country was without mains electricity in 2014. Nigeria is one of Africa's largest oil producers, but much of its oil wealth has been squandered over the years.

Corruption at all levels has left the country out of pocket , and producing a fraction of the energy its 180 million citizens need.

Construction of the new power plants is expected to begin in the next two years.

 

- BBC

In Nigeria, commercial aircraft fly fewer times than the recommended hours due to the infrastructure deficit. This results in huge revenue losses for airlines.

When airline operators describe Nigeria's air operating environment as harsh, they are actually referring to the lack of and obsolete essential facilities, double taxation, scarcity and high cost of aviation fuel as well as the dearth of indigenous personnel, especially in the technical department of the industry.

Airfield Lighting

One of the major limitations to the optimum utilisation of commercial aircraft in Nigeria is the lack of airfield lighting or runway lighting. These are lights that guide the aircraft to landing and take-off on the runway. Unfortunately only five airports out of 22 airports being managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and six airports built by the state government have airfield lights that are being utilised currently. These airports include the Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna and Abuja airports. Some other airports have the equipment but they are either redundant, in a state of disrepair or are waiting to be connected.

Lack of functional airfield lighting is a major setback for Nigerian airlines because they cut off about four operational hours from the daily flights of an airline designated for schedule operation. Industry experts who spoke to THISDAY said they are shocked that despite the importance of this equipment for safe airline operation, government has not been able to install it at all the airports and most of those installed in the past are in disrepair.

Revenues Losses

Industry experts are of the view that installation of airfield lighting at all the nation's airports will boost the revenue of domestic airlines to the tune of about N40 billion annually. This is the estimated amount of revenue that the airlines lose because they do not operate after 6:00 pm in more than 18 airports in the country owing to the lack of critical landing facility.

If the equipment is available, airlines would be able to operate extra four hours every day, from 6: PM to 10: PM to many of the nation's airports. Also, it will help the airlines to fully utilise their aircraft, which has stipulated minimum time it must be flown by their manufacturers.

Former Managing Director of one of the major domestic carriers told THISDAY in an interview that Nigerian airlines lose huge resources because they do not operate to many airports in the night.

"But you have to look at it in terms of potential additional revenue for operating for longer periods, perhaps into the night. Again you can also look at it in terms of underutilisation of the aircraft because they are not used for longer periods during the day. So at the end of the day you may estimate that what airlines lose should be in the region of 40 billion naira in a year. But this depends on how many of such airports that you think you can access," the source said.

The advantage of having such critical equipment is that it would help not only the airlines but passengers. Presently when technical or other problems occur in the daily operation of airlines that lead to delays, some flights that are delay beyond 6:00 PM may be cancelled if the destined airports do not have airfield lighting.

So the installation of the equipment will enable airlines to fly to Ibadan, Akure, Enugu, Owerri, Calabar, Yola and other airports where currently there is no airfield lighting after 6:00 pm.

It will also help safety of airline operations because during emergency in the night a troubled aircraft can land at the nearest airport, instead of looking for the one that has airfield lighting, which may be several kilometers away.

Aircraft Utilisation

Ideally a Boeing, B737, which is the popular operating aircraft in Nigeria flies for at least 18 hours a day and some fly for about 22 hours a day, but in Nigeria such aircraft fly for between 10 t0 12 hours. By 6:00 pm most airlines begin to shut down because their aircraft can no more fly to many of the airports. If majority of the airports have airfield lighting, many of these airlines could operate to 10: 00 pm and such airports that are located in the cities like the ones in Benin, Asaba, Enugu, Owerri, Uyo, Calabar, Ibadan and Akure could have been operating deep into the night.

But by 5:00 pm airlines cancel flights which they could not operate before 6:00 pm and when they cancel flights they lose revenue and a bit of their goodwill.

Disrepair

A senior official of FAAN from operations department told THISDAY on Monday that some of the runway lights are under repair; some are not connected while some airports are yet to have the installation of such lights on their runway. He said that in some airports where the runway light is functioning it is underutlised, which some active airports do not have the functional equipment.

"In some of the airports where we have airfield lighting they are under utilised because flights do not land there in the night. We have it in Maiduguri, we have it Sokoto, we have it in Katsina, we have it in Yola but they are not used because flights don't come there in the night. Kaduna airport has night landing facilities. Ilorin airport also has night landing facilities although they are not effectively used but if there is diversion or emergency they will be put on because Ilorin is alternative airport to Lagos.

"Recently Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) met with the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and he said that work has started at the Enugu airport runway, as the contractor has been called back to site; that when work on the runway is completed the light will be installed. In Owerri, the lighting facilities were vandalised and FAAN is reinstalling the equipment," the FAAN official said.

Flight Cancellations

Passengers have suffered tremendously due to flight cancellations occasioned by absence of runway light in some airports. Few years ago Arik Air had to make air return after arriving at Uyo airspace because the air traffic control which approved the flight's take off from Abuja said it would no more guarantee the flight safety on landing because it was getting dark and there was no airfield lighting; even when the aircraft, which was a New Generation equipment was installed to land under a twilight.

The flight took the passengers back to the airport in Abuja. Disappointed and enraged the passengers protested. They couldn't get to their destination, they had been inconvenienced tremendously and the airline has lost revenues, fight time and fuel. Also earlier this year, Air Peace boarded passengers from Abuja to Enugu and communicated with the air traffic control and airport management at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and got the initial approval for the flight to proceed to Enugu but before takeoff, message came from Enugu that the airport would be closed by 6:00 pm; unless the airline would pay a whooping amount of money, which it considered outrageous. The airline had to abort that flight but the passengers who had already boarded, led by a former Senate President refused to de-board the flight. The aircraft which was already scheduled for another flight on return from Enugu could not operate the next flight.

Role of NCAA

Some industry experts say that as the regulator of the aviation industry, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority as part of safety measures could insist that without airfield lighting in an airport such airport should be closed. They noted that the idea of not having airfield lighting in major and secondary airports in the country started when the Ministry of Aviation started awarding runway rehabilitation contracts differently from the installation of runway lights and noted that ideally the two contracts were usually awarded together.

"NCAA can insist that it will not approve any airport without runway light to take in flights. This should be for safety measure so that in the time of emergency an aircraft can land anywhere. For example, the Asaba airport should not have been opened without airfield lighting. The state government decided to build an airport; he should have been given a minimum standard which would include well equipped runway and Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS).

"So NCAA can insist that all the airports built by the state governments must not be allowed to operate without runway light; this will ensure that as you are building the airports you are installing runway lights on the runway. We need to be strict with these safety critical facilities. Today airlines are losing so much money because this critical equipment is not in these airports," one industry observer told THISDAY.

Landing Instrument

The Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) Captain Nogie Meggison said similar challenges to airline operation include poor navigational and landing aids (Instrument Landing System and others) that limits operations to daylight operation for most airports (Nigerian airlines fly an average of only five hours as against the average of 10 hours worldwide per airplane); high cost and epileptic supply of Jet A1; Obsolete infrastructure that hampers the ease of doing business; and lack of consultations with airlines before introduction of new charges and policies among others, "which throws off the feasibility studies of airlines out the window."

Public, Private Partnership

Industry observers are suggesting that the federal government should take its public, private partnership (PPP) seriously so that it would divest financial commitment on landside infrastructure by ceding airport terminal and associated facilities development and management to the private sector, while it concentrates in providing critical equipment on the airside, which are very crucial for the landing and take-off of flights. For this to happen, they suggested that government must have a defined policy on PPP, accompanied by legal and administrative framework that will guide investors in investing in airport infrastructure.

The Director-General of NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman, told THISDAY that in concession, government would not give out the airside for safety and security reasons; so it would be the sole responsibility of government to provide such critical facilities as landing aids, radar and communication equipment in addition to providing perimeter and security fence at the airports.

Many travellers judge the beauty of airports by visible facilities like the terminal, the car park and the landscape; what keeps aircraft safe on landing and take-off include such critical infrastructure as airfield lighting, but over the years, government has reneged in proving this important equipment for all the airport runways in the country.

 

- This Day

THE Nigerian Government has taken steps to take over bank accounts without Bank Verification Number (BVN) as a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has frozen all such accounts by stopping all outward payments, operations or transactions.

The court order may affect over 15 million bank accounts with deposits running into billions of naira as, according to the Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), the organisation saddled with registering bank customers for BVN, out of the 45.85million bank accounts in the country, only 30,511,506 had been issued with BVN numbers as of October 8, 2017.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), had instituted an application seeking for an interim order directing all commercial banks in the country to disclose all individual and corporate accounts in their custody not covered by BVN.

The court, presided over by Justice Nnamdi O. Dimgba, gave the interim order in Suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/911/2017 to all money deposit banks to disclose all bank accounts that are not linked with a BVN, declare the account numbers of such acounts, the branch in which the accounts are domiciled as well as the outstanding balances and advertise same in a widely circulated newspaper within seven days while giving owners of the account 14 days to identify themselves, failing which the funds in such accounts would be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The court, in an ex parte motion, said it gave the order because running a bank account without a BVN is “contrary to Section 3 of the Money laundering Act 2011 and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guidelines.”

The government has been concerned that its move to unveil those hiding stolen funds in the banks was being frustrated by bank officials colluding with them by allowing them to run accounts without BVN.

Recently, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, raised the alarm that some banks were helping corrupt government officials to operate secret accounts without BVN.

While delivering a lecture at a workshop organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in Lagos, on September 26, 2017, he said some bank officials were in the habit of “opening accounts for government officials even after the introduction of the Treasury Single Account, thereby allowing government funds to be diverted.”

According to him, “There are several bank accounts that are not linked to BVN and are still active.”

Similarly, the CBN had last week, in a memo signed by Mr Dipo Fatokun, Director Banking and Payment System, directed all banks to properly capture customers’ BVN data and ensure that a customer’s names on the BVN database are the same in all of his/her accounts, across all banks.

In the memo entitled the ‘‘Regulatory Framework for BVN and Watch-list Operations in Nigeria,’ the CBN said this became necessary to forestall fraudulent activities of bank customers.

The framework stated that “change of customer records shall be allowed as follows: Name change with supporting documents, subject to a maximum of twice a year; change of date of birth shall be allowed only once with supporting documents; minor correction due to errors supported with valid means of identification.”

According to the CBN framework, a watch-listed individual shall not be allowed to enter into new relationship with any bank.

The court also ordered that the banks “should disclose any investments made with funds from these accounts without BVN in any products including fixed/term deposits and their liquidation and interest incurred, bank acceptances, commercial papers and other relevant information related to the transactions made on the accounts.”

The CBN, had in conjunction with the Bankers Committee, embarked upon the deployment of a centralised BVN system and launched the project in February 2014 as part of the overall strategy to ensure effectiveness of the Know Your Customer (KYC) principles, and the promotion of a safe, reliable and efficient payments system. The BVN gives a unique identity across the banking Industry to each customer of Nigerian banks.

 

Credit: Nigerian Tribune

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