Aero Contractors suspends operations indefinitely, sends staff on leave

Aero Contractors Airlines on Wednesday said that it would suspend all its scheduled services indefinitely from Thursday Sept. 1.
The airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Fola Akinkuotu, said in a statement in Lagos that the management decision was part of the strategic business realignment to reposition the airline and return it to the path of profitability.

He said that all staff directly and indirectly involved in providing the services, would also proceed on indefinite leave of absence.

“This business decision is as a result of the current economic situation in the country, which has forced some other airlines to suspend operation or outrightly pull out of Nigeria.

“In the case of Aero, the airline has faced grave challenges in the past six months, which impacted its business and by extension the scheduled services operations,’’ he said.

Akinkuotu said the impact of the external environment had been very harsh on the airline’s operational performance, hence the management’s decision to suspend scheduled services operations indefinitely effective Sept.1, 2016.

“This suspension is pending when the external opportunities and a robust sustainable and viable plan is in place for Aero Contractors to recommence its scheduled services.

“The implication of the suspension of scheduled services operations extends to all staff directly and indirectly involved in providing services, as they are effectively to proceed on indefinite leave of absence during the period of non-services.

“We are aware of the impact this will have on our staff and our highly esteemed customers, hence we have initiated moves to ensure that we are able to return back to operations within the shortest possible time, offering reliable, safe and secure operations,’’ he said.

Akinkuotu said that both internal and external environmental factors had made it difficult for the airline to continue its scheduled services, leading to the management’s decision.

He recalled that, as part of its resolve to ensure the airline survived, unlike most other carriers that experienced short life span in the country, Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) had appointed Mr Adeniyi Adegbomire as Receiver Manager in Feb. 6, 2016.

Akinkuotu also noted that since AMCON’s intervention in Aero Contractors in 2011, it had provided support for the airline to meet working capital requirements and fleet expansion.

When NAN correspondent visited the airline’s counter on Wednesday, the ticket counters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal (MMA2) were empty.

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NCC approves release of SIM registration data to NIMC

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has agreed to release the commission’s data from the ongoing Subscriber Identification Mode (SIM) cards registration exercise to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, stated this when he received the Director-General of NIMC, Mr Aliyu Aziz, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

He said that the release of the data to NIMC was to give a boost to efforts of the Federal Government toward harmonising biometric data capturing by different agencies in the country.

Danbatta said the decision to release the data was in line with government directive to transfer validated data to sister agencies.

“I will like to pledge our commitment to this cooperation between the NIMC and the NCC to ensure that we have a secure and reliable database containing biometric information for all Nigerians.

“The data will definitely augur well for the security of the country among other benefits. So, we are committed to do this.

“We recognise the importance of this cooperation and I will like to stress the need to give it all the seriousness it deserves.

“I am happy that there’s a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and also there is Federal Government’s directive which would help in facilitating the data transfer,’’he said.

Danbatta , however, called for the reinvigorating of the existing inter-agency committee handling the exercise in order to fast track the peace-meal data transfer to NIMC.

He further said that NCC would ensure that the data transferred to NIMC would be fully backed up to avoid any hitches in the future.

Responding, the NIMC boss expressed delight at the cooperation between the two agencies, adding that the data transfer would also improve the ongoing National Identification Number (NIN) exercise of the commission.

He said NIMC would use the data to assign NIM to Nigerians who were captured in the validated data received.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that inter-agency and other stakeholders’ collaboration is a key component of the 8-Point Agenda unveiled in February by NCC.

CJN Sport competition begins in Kogi

The 22nd edition of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) sport competition, kicked-off on Wednesday, in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital following the unveiling of the tournament trophy.

The CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who unveiled the trophy at the Kogi state High Court, assured the organisers of the support of the judiciary.

Mahmoud who was represented by Justice Suleiman Galadima of the Supreme court said the bench was happy to host the tournament in the state because it has one of the best judiciary in the country.

He noted that the judiciary in the state was scandal free, saying he was convinced that the tournament would be hitch free.

Mahmoud also noted that the preparation put into the competition by the state government would make it to be one of the best organised in the history of the competition.

The Kogi state Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah, said the tournament would further strengthen the oneness of the judiciary in the country.

Ajana, who spoke through Justice Henry Olusuyi, said stars would emerge from the competition.

He said the tournament which formed part of recreational opportunities for the bench would also foster unity among the judiciary.

The Kogi state commissioner for sports and youth development, Arome Adoji, said the state was ready for the competition, adding that adequate security measures had been made for the participants.

Nigeria’s economy growth rate may beat IMF prediction – Budget Ministry

As emphasis on capital expenditure by the Federal Government begins to yield positive results with investment/GDP ratio increasing, the GDP growth rate of the Nigerian economy is likely to beat the IMF prediction of -1.8% for the full year 2016, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning has indicated.
Although the recent data released from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the GDP declined by -2.06% in second quarter, the Budget and Planning Ministry noted that the picture that emerges points to the fact that agriculture and solid minerals sector, the areas given priority by the Federal Government are beginning to respond to policy initiatives.

The Ministry, in a release, stated that though the inflation rate remains high, the good news is that the month-on-month rate of increase has fallen continuously over the past three months.

For the rate of unemployment which still remains high, it explained that the unemployment issue is of a structural nature and is usually the case during growth slowdowns. It is expected that the social safety net initiative will slow down the unemployment rate before the end of the year.

According to the Ministry, past vulnerabilities of the economy combined with the short term effect of the structural changes complicates the trajectory of growth and inflation, pointing out that this formed the basis for negative growth in Q1 and Q2.

However, the rest of the Q2 data is beginning to tell a different story. There was growth in the agricultural and solid minerals sectors which are the areas in which the Federal Government has placed priority. Agriculture grew by 4.53% in the second quarter of 2016 as compared with 3.09% in the first quarter. The metal ores sector showed similar performance with coal mining, quarrying and other minerals also showing positive growth of over 2.5%. Notably also, the share of investment in GDP increased to its highest level since 2010, growing to about 17% of Gross Domestic Product.

It indicated that the manufacturing sector, though not yet truly out of the woods, is beginning to show signs of recovery while the service sector similarly bears watching; as it disclosed that available data already shows a reduction in imports and an increase in locally produced goods and services.

The Ministry is optimistic that the trend will be maintained, although it will start off slowly in the initial stages before picking up later.
Explaining the GDP decline in the second quarter, the Ministry said a close look at the data reveals that the outcome was mostly due to a sharp contraction in the oil sector due to huge losses of crude oil production as a result of vandalism and sabotage; but it quickly added that there is room for optimism that the recent commitments to stop attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta will help to resolve this situation, while also improving government revenues.

This, It added, would however be a temporary solution in the sense that it still promotes the weak economic structure of the past which it said manifested in two ways – the over-reliance on crude oil and the country’s economy being mainly consumption driven with a high import propensity.
With crude oil contributing 8-12% of GDP and up to 50-53% of the non-oil sector dependent on the oil sector, it is clear that the fortunes of up to 60% of the Nigerian economy rested on a volatile sector. This shaky foundation was masked in the past by high oil prices and reasonably high foreign reserves.

Again with the availability of foreign exchange it was possible to drive growth in national income through consumption without feeling the fallout of such structural weaknesses.

These vulnerabilities were exposed when oil prices collapsed at a time the country did not have adequate revenues and reserves to cushion the effect, a situation further complicated by loss of production.

It drew attention to the fact that the situation which pointed to the need for difficult but necessary structural reforms necessitated Federal Government’s move to improve public financial management and change the structure of the economy through diversification and an investment driven model.

The Federal Government therefore took policy actions to promote sectors like agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and services and to boost public and private investment in infrastructure and housing. It also acted to remove supply constraints with regard to foreign exchange and the supply of premium motor spirit while encouraging the private sector to add value to crude oil through refineries, petrochemical plants, fertilizer plants and gas infrastructure.

In an attempt to maintain consumption demand in the short term, the Federal Government also assisted States to pay salaries and to encourage a private sector supply response by bringing about improvements in the ease of doing business.

Buhari confirms appointment of N/Delta Power Holding’s CEO

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of a substantive Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and two Executive Directors for the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC).
Joseph Chiedu Ugbowho was in an acting capacity is now the substantive Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company.

Others are Mallam Babayo Shehu, Executive Director (Finance and Administration) and Engr. Ife Oyedele, Executive Director (Engineering and
Technical Services).

A statement signed by Bolaji Adebiyi, Director (Press),Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said Mr. Ugbo is a legal practitioner and infrastructure regulations specialist with extensive experience in electricity industry reform and privatization.

“He has Bachelor and Master of Law Degrees from the University of Lagos and was admitted to practice Law in Nigeria in 1991. For over 15 years, he provided legal advisory services to public sector power entities including legal support to erstwhile National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and to the Bureau of Public Enterprises during the privatization of the twenty successor companies of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

“Mallam Babayo Shehu has a First Class Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

 Mallam Babayo Shehu began his working career with Bauchi State Development Board in 1981. He was in banking from 1987 to 2003 and thereafter joined the federal public service in 2003 and was in the service from 2003 to 2014.

“Engineer Oyedele graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree, Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos in 1982. He is a member, Nigerian Society of Engineers and Institute of Directors. Between 1982 and 1992, Engineer Oyedele worked in both the public and private sectors.

He established his own company, Messrs Matcom Limited in 1992. He is the Managing Director of the company until his new appointment”

Pope welcomes Colombia ceasefire, declines Vatican role

Pope Francis on Wednesday welcomed the end of Colombia’s war with the FARC rebels but declined an invitation to help establish a court to prosecute atrocities committed during the conflict.
Francis, the first pontiff to come from Latin America, had been asked to appoint a representative to a five-person panel entitled the Special Peace Jurisdiction, which will be charged with trying and sentencing individuals accused of committing war crimes during the 52-year conflict.

Francis “was pleased to learn that negotiations have been finalised between the government and FARC,” the Vatican said in a statement.

“He reiterates his support for the goal of attaining the peace and reconciliation of the entire Colombian people, in light of human rights and Christian values, which are at the heart of Latin American culture,” it added.

The pope noted the invitation to name a representative to the legal panel but said that “bearing in mind the universal vocation of the Church, … it would be more appropriate that the said task be entrusted to other parties.”

The Special Peace Jurisdiction was supposed to have five members — three Colombians and representatives appointed by the pope and by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The ceasefire in Colombia came into effect on Monday, and the government and the FARC are due to sign a peace agreement in September which will then be put to a referendum on October 2.

The conflict has claimed 260,000 lives since 1964.

NLC calls for policy response to address unemployment

Dr Peter Eson-Ozo, the General Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has urged the Federal Government to develop a policy that will address the increasing rate of youth unemployment in Nigeria.
Eson-Ozo made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

NAN reports that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has predicted that global youth unemployment rate will rise by 13.1 per cent at the end of 2016 and 2017 from 12.9 per cent at the end of 2015.

Eson-Ozo said that the global unemployment projections were gloomy, adding that the situation in Nigeria might even be gloomier.
“This is because the way things are now, given all the economic parameters, we are actually faced with a situation in which the unemployment rate in Nigeria will continue to rise.

“If we take that along with the underemployment and disguised employment, we find that really, it is a very high rate, much higher than the global average.

“The world economy itself, the dynamics of the world economy into the next two years, will not create or turn the job market around.

“It is also frightening because apart from our local economic issues, the global economic environment will not even be supportive of our getting out quickly from the present situation.‘’

He said that there was the need for the Federal Government to put together a policy that would address the economic situation in the country.

“As of now, we do not seem to have a policy response that shows where we are in the economy.

“Today you talk of foreign exchange management policy response, tomorrow you talk of interest rate, and you know economic isolation will not address this problem.

“We need to put together a comprehensive plan to address the situation in the economy and I believe that it is only then that we can start to turn around the economy.”

The NLC general secretary, however, said that if the economy was not revived, employment would not be created, rather the issue of unemployment would continue to worsen.

He said that the ILO report on the increase of unemployment at the global level was a wake-up call to all.

He said this was also an indication to Nigeria that all hands must be on deck to create job opportunities for the unemployed youths in the country.

“We need to do something urgently in order to start tackling the unemployment problem in the country, “he said.