Nigeria’s oldest airline, Aero Contractors, says it has expanded its operations with the delivery of more aircraft to its fleet.

The CEO of the airline, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said the outfit had, therefore, increased flight frequencies to Abuja from Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Asaba, Port Harcourt and Kano from Lagos.

According to him, the airline will as from Sept. 17 increase its Abuja-Port Harcourt-Abuja, which is now daily flight.

He said the airline will also increase flights from three times weekly to three daily flights on the Lagos-Abuja-Lagos and Lagos-Port Harcourt routes.

“The airline has also increased its Lagos-Kano flights, which at present is five times a week by adding another flight on Sundays.

“So from the above date it will be operating six times weekly to Kano from Lagos.

“Also from Sept. 15, Aero will increase its flights from Lagos to Asaba which at present runs six times weekly to daily flights,” Sanusi said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.

He explained that the airline which operates Lagos-Asaba-Abuja-Lagos flights six times a week, has added another flight on Saturday for Lagos-Asaba-Lagos only.

“We now have two Boeing B737-500 series, Boeing B737-400 series (which will be rolled off C-check next week) and Bombardier Dash 8-300 series.

“Aero has added another aircraft in its rotary (helicopters), which is AW 139 Helicopter to Aero fleet. So it now has AW 139 and AS 365 which are fully operational.

“We have expanded our schedule because we have additional aircraft and we are also expecting more.

“When we deliver more aircraft, we increase our destinations. What we have done largely now is to increase our frequencies as we increased in capacity,” Sanusi said.



The Federal Government has pledged to support research and create liaison with traditional healers with the knowledge of plants to develop, formulate and commercialise research findings into medicinal products.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said this on Friday in Abuja while addressing newsmen to mark this year’s African Traditional Medicine Day.
Ehanire noted that the theme, “Local Manufacturing of African Traditional Medicine Products in the African Region”, was apt.
He stressed that 25 to 45 per cent of pharmaceutical drugs in use today were derived from traditional medicine plants in different parts of the world.
According to him, indigenous people all over the world, including Africans, treat common diseases and ailments, using medicinal plants in their traditional practices.
He added that the African Region, like Asia and South America, was blessed with countless plant species, many with already known medicinal values, others with yet to be discovered medicinal properties.
“Over 50,000 species of such plants are in sub–Saharan Africa, of which it is believed 25 per cent were in use for centuries for treatment and disease prevention,’’ the minister said.
He quoted Prof. Maurice Iwu saying in a published handbook of African Medicinal Plants in February 2014, that about 2,000 plant species are presently used in indigenous African Medicines.
“Nigeria has over 8,000 species with potential benefits in ethno-medicine or ethno-pharmacy,” he said.
Ehanire said that the Federal Ministry of Health, agencies and stakeholders were studying modalities to give traditional medicine a place in the nation’s health system.
He noted that the 2018 commemoration urges utilisation of medicinal plants for finished products an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies, private investors, food and cosmetics companies to create a value chain.
The WHO Country Representative, Dr Alemu Wondimagegnehu, said that scaling up local manufacturing was key to contributing to achieving Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals.
Wondimagegnehu added that stronger public-private-partnerships would boost investments in local manufacturing of medicinal products and help to protect against financial risk by improving economic and social development.
He therefore called for stronger collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Health and traditional health practitioners to accelerate local manufacturing of traditional medicine products.
British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has arrived at FMDQ Security Exchange building, Victoria Island, Lagos, for a meeting with the Nigerian business community.
The prime minister, accompanied by members of her trade delegation, arrived at the venue at 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr. Femi Otedola, and Mr. Tony Elumelu, among others, had earlier assembled at the venue.
The meeting, expected to last for 40 minutes, would provide an opportunity for forging more bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
May had earlier on Wednesday afternoon arrived the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Ikeja, in Lagos after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
She is billed to spend time with victims of modern slavery during her brief stay in the nation’s commercial hub.
The prime minister’s visit to Lagos comes barely eight weeks after the French President, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, visited the African Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos.
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, accompanied by his deputy, among other state officials, received the prime minister at the airport.
After the reception, May drove out of the airport to attend to her engagements in the state.
After May’s meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria and Britain signed agreements on Defence and Security partnership, among others.
May’s visit to Nigeria is part of her tour of three African countries.
Boko Haram terrorists have killed 17 soldiers in a fresh attack on a military base in the Borno, Northeast Nigeria.
Military sources told AFP Thursday that the latest attack was the third assault on three different bases in less than a month.
On Wednesday evening, heavily armed jihadists riding in trucks stormed and looted weapons and vehicles from a military base in Garunda village in Borno State, the epicentre of the Islamist insurgency that has been raging for nine years.
The attack is the latest of a series of bloody Boko Haram assaults on military bases in Nigeria, underscoring the continued threat the Islamists pose to the region and putting the spotlight on the Nigerian government’s claim that Boko Haram is “decimated”.
“Our troops came under attack from Boko Haram terrorists in Garunda last night,” a military officer told AFP.
“Unfortunately we lost 17 troops, 14 others were injured while an unspecified number is still unaccounted for,” said the military source, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the incident.
The source added that the militants looted weapons and vehicles before fleeing.
In the past month, Boko Haram jihadists have launched two other major assaults on military bases in the remote northeast region.
On July 14, jihadists suspected to be loyal to Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, who is affiliated with the Islamic State group, attacked a base in Jilli village, in neighbouring Yobe state.
Dozens of troops were killed, wounded or missing, according to several security sources.
The army conceded the base was attacked but did not give a death toll, saying that the “troops reorganised and successfully repelled the attack and normalcy has since returned to the area”.
On July 26, the Islamists stormed a base on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno state.
The base attacked yesterday in Garunda village of Borno state had just been set up for troops from the 81 brigade who had been stationed in Jilli village and forced to move after the July 14 assault.
“The truth of the matter is that the troops in Jilli were relocated to Garunda where a new base was established,” said the second military source, who gave a similar death toll.
“Troops were just setting up and the excavator operator was working to fortify the base with trenches against attack from the terrorists when the attack happened,” said the officer.
The Nigerian army did not respond to to requests for comment.
Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Thursday confirmed in a statement that a staff member, an excavator operator attached to the military, “was killed by Boko Haram yesterday in Damasak, Borno state”.
Boko Haram no longer controls swathes of territory in northeast Nigeria as it did at the height of its insurgency in 2014, yet the Islamist militants still pose a threat to the impoverished region.
Source: AFP
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said it was shocked to learn of the tragic death of six Nigerian asylum-seekers, among them three children, who were killed in a blast in the far north of Cameroon.
The UN refugee agency, said it had learnt that on July 29, 12 asylum-seekers were being forcibly returned to Banki, Nigeria, in a Cameroonian army truck, which drove over an improvised explosive device that exploded.
UNHCR added that six Cameroonian soldiers and six other asylum-seekers were also injured in the incident, which took place in Homaka, Mayo Sava Division.
Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Africa, Valentin Tapsoba, condemned the forcible return of Nigeria’s asylum-seekers from Cameroon.
“This tragic incident is a disappointing testament of continuing forced returns (refoulements) of refugees and asylum-seekers from Cameroon, despite numerous appeals by UNHCR to the Government of Cameroon to respect its obligations.
“The forced return of refugees and asylum-seekers is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which constitutes the cornerstone of international refugee law to which the Cameroonian State is party,” Tapsoba said.
No fewer than 800 Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers in Cameroon had been forcibly returned to Nigeria since the beginning of 2018, the UN refugee agency said.
Tapsoba further said: “UNHCR once again calls upon the government of Cameroon to refrain from carrying out further forced returns of Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers.
“It also reminds Cameroon of its obligations under international law relating to the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers and the commitments it made by signing the Tripartite Agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon in March 2017.
“UNHCR reiterates its appeal to authorities to provide Nigerian refugees with unhindered access to asylum and stands ready to support Cameroon to ensure all individuals seeking safety have access to efficient screening, registration and documentation procedures”.
Some 96,000 Nigerian refugees had sought safety in the Far North region of Cameroon, with more than 8,000 new refugees registered since the beginning of 2018, UNHCR said.
According to the UN refugee agency, Cameroon currently hosts more than 367,000 refugees and asylum-seekers.
Source: The daily mail
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said on Tuesday that negotiations were on to fully concession the 30MW Gurara Power Plant in Kaduna State.
The project is expected to enhance power supply in the northwest part of the country.
Mr Benson Ajisegiri, Director, Water Supply and Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the ministry, who made the disclosure, said the Gurara dam would also provide sustainable, cost-effective and feasible option of boosting potable water supply to Abuja.
The director disclosed that the Gurara dam also has 1,800 hectares of irrigation land that has been leased to 11 commercial farmers and individuals especially retirees.
Ajisegiri stressed that the retirees were considered to enable them go into full agricultural activities.
‘‘The dam is of utmost importance to the Federal Government, it will also provide electricity to the industrial area of Kaduna so that they can revive the industries there.
‘‘We are just about concluding that, by the time it comes up, you will discover that it can send power to that place and it will improve more industrial activities in Kaduna leading to more employment and so many things.”
According to him, the concession model adopted will allow one concessionaire to take custody of the project for a period of time as determined by the financial analysis.
He added that the concessionaire will be responsible for generating hydro power and connecting it to the transmission network made available by the Transmission Company of Nigeria for distribution.
The director said that the ministry is negotiating with the preferred and reserved bidder in line with the guidelines of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), to drive the processes to benefit Nigerians.
He said the rule in the guidelines of ICRC stipulated that a Transaction Adviser be involved in the processes.
He stressed that shortlisted firms had been given their Request for Proposal and analysed in choosing the preferred and reserved bidder.
Ajisegiri added that the processes are being spearheaded by the Project Delivery Team which consists of ICRC, Ministries of Water Resources, Environment and Power, Works and Housing, Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission and Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, had said that his ministry had prioritised the 116 uncompleted or abandoned major projects across the country.
Adamu also said resources would be deployed towards completing and commissioning all high and medium priority water projects from 2016 to 2019.
‘‘We have concluded a Technical Audit and prioritised the hitherto uncompleted or abandoned 116 major projects that I met in the ministry.
‘‘We are deploying most of our resources towards completing and commissioning all the high and medium priority projects from 2016 – 2019.
‘‘The dam was designed and constructed with the main purpose of supplying water to the Lower Usuma Dam to meet the demand for water,’’ he had said.
The Gurara dam has world class amenities for hydro-power generation, irrigation, farming, tourism development, and fishery.
It is located about 75km from the Abuja city centre and has a crest of 3.2km in length, maximum height of 54m, and a reservoir capacity of 880MCM.
Source: NAN
The federal government has increased the duration of international passport from five to 10 years.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede during the inauguration of the Guaranty Trust Bank POS Passport Fee Terminal at the Ikoyi Passport Office, Lagos.
Babandede explained that the 10 years duration would be for adults, while that of minors would remain five years.
He said the increase in the duration of passport has been endorsed by the National Assembly and also approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
According to him, the 10 years’ extension would take effect from next year, adding that the current backlog of requests for passports waiting for issuance would still be five years.
The Comptroller General also said to end the enduring scarcity of passport, which has lasted over two years, the document would now be printed in Nigeria with indication that it would no more be given out as concession.
Nigerian passport for years, has been printed overseas and given out to concessionaires.
Thisday also learnt that immediately the new passport duration takes effect from next year, renewal of passport would automatically be 10 years.
A senior official of NIS said it has become the trend all over the world, adding that it is a service the government must offer to its citizens.
The official said this would reduce the pressure on passport holders who throng passport offices all over the country to renew their passports.
According to him, it would also ease the pressure on Immigration officials who attend to thousands of applicants every working day.
He also noted that the increase in the duration of passport would in no way reduce the revenue generated by Immigration to the federal government.
Nigeria will on Friday night experience a spectacular total lunar eclipse, which will last for one hour, Prof. Augustine Ubachukwu, has said.
Ubachukwu, the leader of Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Group of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, disclosed this on Thursday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
“Nigeria is set to experience a very spectacular total lunar eclipse on Friday, July 27, weather permitting.
“It will be visible from 9:30.p.m. and last till 11: 220 p.m.
“This total lunar eclipse will be primarily visible from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere, which are Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
“Part of South America will be able to watch the final stages of the eclipse just after sunset on July 27.
“New Zealand will catch the beginning stages of the eclipse before sunrise on July 28.
“It will be the century’s longest total lunar eclipse with a whopping one hour and 43 minutes in totality.
“It starts with a partial eclipse at 7:24 p.m. The total eclipse begins at 8.30 p.m., and ends at 10.13 p.m. The peak of the eclipse will occur at 9.22 p.m. The partial eclipse ends at 11.19 p.m.,’’ he said.
Ubachukwu observed that a lunar eclipse could occur only on the night of a full moon.
The scientist said during a total lunar eclipse, the earth completely blocks direct sunlight from reaching the moon, while the only light reflected from the lunar surface would be refracted by earth’s atmosphere.
According to him, unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions as they appear dimmer than the full moon.
The professor, however, said that the next total lunar eclipse that would be visible in Nigeria would occur on Jan. 21, 2019.
Prof. Rabiu Babatunde, the Director, Centre for Atmospheric Research in Kogi told NAN that people should not be perturbed at the occurrence.
Babatunde said that the event underscored the fact that planetary objects, including the earth were in a state of defined continuous motion.
He said that the occurrence necessitated the need for scientists to continue monitoring and exploring the dynamics of the motion and the phenomena associated with them.
“Keeping tab on the dynamics will enable scientists sensitise the global community of any hazard associated with such occurrences,’’ he said.
Source: NAN
To get the new national carrier off its feet, the Federal Government will be injecting about N3.168billion ($8.8million) as the startup capital for Nigeria Air.
The provision, among others, is contained in the Outline Business Case (OBC) recently approved by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and currently before the Federal Executive Council for approval.
Meanwhile, airlines operators have expressed concerns over governments’ funding of the airlines and the high likelihood of interference in its operations that ordinarily should run as a private business and compete fairly with other existing airlines.
The Guardian gathered that the initial injection of N3.2billion is a part-payment for the government’s five per cent equity in the investment, whose take-off fund in the next three years of operation has been put at N108billion ($300million).
Sources at the Ministry of Transportation, contrary to claims, said the $300million is the minimum fund expected from both the public and private investors, of which only five per cent ($15million) is government’s contribution.
The director explained that the government is not funding the entire project, but will be offering the startup capital in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
“Once the strategic investor is in place, they will be expecting to build on the initial investment made. The OBC suggested that there is a need to start the business in order to attract credible investors,” the source said.
The $300million is the funding requirement for the next three years, beginning 2018 ($55million), 2019 ($100million), and 2020 ($145million).
Speaking on the development, the Chief Executive Officer, Med-View Airlines, Muneer Bankole, urged the Federal Government to fully disclose its plans for the general public to know what is in the offing, and warned against injecting public funds into the airline to allow it function and compete as another private carrier.
He said: “There is definitely no threat to operators that know their onions, and once they (new airline) operate normally like an airline, everyone will be fine. The only thing is that they should not take off with the government and people’s funds; it should be privately driven.
“I want to give them the opportunity to come out and be able to tell everybody the template that is still being talked about in Farnborough. When it comes to this country, we have to sit down and ask questions.”
The Chairman, Air Peace Airlines, Allen Onyema, congratulated the Federal Government on the feat, describing it as an avenue to create jobs for Nigerians, and improve capacity for air travel in the country.
Onyema, however, said the new carrier has to operate transparently, with regulators giving a level playing field to all operators in a fair competition.
He said: “If the airline will be used to frustrate the hard earned successes of existing airlines, then we all will be against it. As at now, Air Peace has acquired four B777, Med-View just got one, and maybe Azman soon. Does it mean that we would be restricted from those 91 routes that Nigeria Air will be flying? I hope not.
“We trust Buhari to be a nationalist, and he will not allow us to be forced out of business. That is why the new airline has to be transparent. Government has said it is going to be a private business. It has to operate side-by-side with other airlines. So, if the new airline goes to London, no local airlines should be stopped from the route, once it has the capacity,” Onyema said.
The Secretary General, Aviation Safety Round-table Initiative, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), added that the meticulous nature of the programme is quite pleasing and designed in a way that it takes the responsibility of infrastructure maintenance off the government.
Ojikutu said: “It is clear that this government does not want to go the way of other people; hence, the plan to concession the airports. National carrier is also to safeguard the market from other foreign carriers, and some of us are in agreement with them.
“Like I have said, let government not put its hand in it. Let them get technical partners from outside to invest a minimum of 40 per cent. That is why they are talking to Boeing, and will soon talk to Airbus to come and invest, while Nigerians will take the remaining 60 per cent.
“If the aircraft manufacturers bring aircraft today and government goes to the Stock Exchange, Nigerians will come out to invest in the 50 per cent. The remaining 10 per cent can then be between the Federal Government and the states. That is when we will have a national carrier.” he said.
Source: The Guardian
The Akwa Ibom State Government has signed a  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SERGE Capital Investment Limited on the resuscitation of Ibom Science and Technology Park. 
Speaking on the occasion, the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel hinted that the Ibom Science and Technology Park is receiving priority attention from his Government as science and technology is the underpin of development across the world. 
The Governor who was represented by Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem said at the event that was held in his conference room that in reviving the Ibom Science and Technology Park, the State will adopt a bottom up approach to ensure that those incubated at the park would move up to set up cottage industries in the local communities. 
He said the initiative is geared towards enhancing the human empowerment agenda of the State Government and promised the investors of Government's cooperation and support in the completion of the project. 
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Prof. Nse Essien who described the event as epochal stressed that the signing of the MOU is a culmination of series of discussions with the investors on the completion of the Ibom and Science and Technology Park. 
He said the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel is determined to ensure that Akwa Ibom State has become a front line State in science and technology and gave the assurance that the science and technology park when completed will open a window of vast opportunities for young scientists and innovators. 
The President of SERGE Capital Investment Limited, an Australian based firm with Chinese affiliation, Mr. Greg Todd in his remarks said they will combine resources from Australia, China and the local communities to develop industry, agriculture, infrastructure and trade under a model that will be world class.
He assured that his outfit is ready to reinvent the operational philosophy of the science park in conformity with world leading technologies in order to ensure sustainable development of economic, environmental and social sectors of the State.
Mr. Greg Todd and the Company Secretary of SERGE Capital Investment Limited, Mrs. Sally Conoid signed the MOU on behalf of the company while the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Prof. Nse Essien, the Executive Chairman of Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (AKICORP), Dr. Elijah Akpan, the Chairman of Foreign Direct Investment in the State, Mr. Gabriel Ukpe and the Permanent Secretary in the office of Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Eno Offiong signed on behalf of the State Government. 
The event featured a presentation of some inventions by Mr. Nse Esu, an Akwa Ibom budding scientist and innovator. Some of the inventions presented include, Electric Source Indicator, Automatic Source Control System, Automatic Change Over Switch, Solar Charge Controller, Automatic Water Pump Control Switch and Generator Shutdown System.
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  1. Opinions and Analysis


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