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FG might dispose Nigeria Air project, as Ethiopian Airlines moves to become national carrier

Months after the Federal Government abandoned the national carrier project, Ethiopian Airlines has disclosed that the company is in talks with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to become the country’s national carrier.

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Ethiopian Airlines plans to become Nigeria's national carrier, Nigeria's national carrier Nigeria Air, Ethiopian Airlines crashes

Months after the Federal Government of Nigeria abandoned the national carrier project, Ethiopian Airlines has disclosed that the company is in talks with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to become the country’s national carrier.

The decision was made known by the Ethiopian Airlines’ Group Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde Gebremariam, who was recently in Nigeria to continue talks regarding the national carrier. He also disclosed that talks are on-going with Ghana to float theirs as well.

[READ ALSO: Economy on standstill as President Buhari delays ministerial appointments again]

Plans to establish the country’s national carrier had begun after a Committee on Establishment of National Carrier was inaugurated by President Buhari’s administration on August 25, 2015, in Abuja. The Committee submitted its report a month after. The carrier was later unveiled in London and named Nigeria Air in July 2018.

Reasons for its suspension: Preparations were suspended three months later in September 2018 due to ‘strategic planning‘, according to the then Minister of State for Aviation, Sirika Hadi. There were however claims that the delay came as a result of disagreement that ensued among the former FEC members over modality issue, as well as the uncertainty currently being witnessed over cabinet formation in this second term of the administration.

2019 Budget, Hadi Sirika and Rotimi Amaechi, President Buhari passes 2019 budget, Nigeria Air, Nigeria national carrier, Hadi Siriki, Senate Committee, FG to revive national carrier

Nigeria Air

Apparently, some members of the Federal Executive Council suggested that the project should be 100% private-owned, while the others wanted the Government to make some investments towards the establishment of the national carrier. All these have been frustrating the commencement of the Nigeria Air project.

Before the suspension, Sirika had disclosed that N1.52 billion was approved to initiate the process in 2017. He later revealed that the Federal Government had earmarked N47 billion to ensure the completion of the project when talks began to revive the project. But some experts said $2.1 billion is needed to acquire some aircraft in order to float the proposed national carrier.

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[READ ALSO: This decades-old challenge will deprive Nigerian businesses AfCFTA’s benefits]

According to Siriki, the national carrier project would be completed before President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration ends in 2023. Although he didn’t give a specific time-frame, he said he was certain Nigeria Air would lift off before President Buhari’s tenure elapses.

Ethiopian Airlines disrupting plans: That plan might be on hold with the disclosure that Ethiopian Airlines is in discussion with the government to become the national carrier. The company currently operates in Nigeria, but it is looking to start from scratch to operate Nigeria’s national carrier.

Ethiopian 737-800 Artwork K64855

Gebremariam stated there are no local airlines to bare that strong representation and able to meet local and international demands. He disclosed that discussion is also on going with private and local carriers in Nigeria.

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“We are discussing at all levels. We are also discussing with private carriers, local carriers in Nigeria and the government but we are making it abundantly clear that we want to start a new one because starting from a clean slate or paper is advantageous because we won’t have any legacy or baggage to carry.”

[READ ALSO: Airtel and MTN Nigeria are sending bad signals from NSE to Glo, 9mobile]

Ethiopian Airlines’ anxiousness explained: The CEO of the company said Nigeria’s failure to have a national carrier is affecting the African market due to its market size. According to him, African airlines are losing the market share to foreign airlines, “So, this concern is part of continental concern because, in Africa, non-African carriers have the biggest shares.

It is around 80-20 ratio. 80% of the traffic between Africa and the rest of the world is carried by non-African carriers.”

The airlines considered before: Ethiopian Airlines is not the first Airline company linked to the national carrier. There were claims the FG might merge Arik and Aero in order to create a new national carrier, but AMCON denied the report.

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Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

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Why the proposed Borno power plant may not materialise 

The glaring security challenge cannot be overlooked in considering a major power plant project in Borno State.

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Only a few days ago, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, led a delegation to Borno State to meet with the Governor of the State, Babagana Zulum.

In the conversation with Zulum, Kyari promised the establishment of a gas-fired power plant in Borno State within a maximum of 4 months to solve the recent blackouts that resulted from insurgents cutting off Borno from the national grid since January this year.

In Kyari’s words, “We have talked to each other and we think it’s very possible to establish a dedicated power plant in Maiduguri which will serve current needs of power supply not only in Maiduguri but to other parts of the neighbouring cities.”

Yet, there is a significant possibility that the power plant promised by Kyari may not materialize for many reasons, the first of which is security. In the meeting with Kyari, Governor Zulum had noted: “The ongoing insurgency has cut off the entire Borno from the national grid in the last three months. We put all our efforts and restored it back… but unfortunately, after 48 hours, the same group of insurgents went back and destroyed the main tower again.”

This glaring security challenge cannot be overlooked in considering a major power plant project in Borno State, particularly noting that the State and its surrounding communities have been the hot zone of insurgent and terrorist attacks by Boko Haram insurgents since 2009. Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have particularly been states where the insurgents have set up shop and carried out various activities, including kidnap, extermination of entire communities, burning of markets and religious buildings and the attack on the United Nations compound, in each case claiming tens or hundreds of innocent lives.

One report reveals that at least 37, 500 people have been killed by the insurgent group since May 2011, a modest number, some say. Also, till date, some of the secondary school girls kidnapped in the April 2014 Chibok incident are yet to be returned to their families. It is then bewildering how Kyari intends to see to the construction and operationalizing of this gas power plant.

Additionally, while the Minister of Petroleum for State, Chief Timipre Sylva, announced last year about the discovery of oil and gas deposits in the North, we have not seen any exploration and production kick-off. It then begs the question of where the gas for the Borno power plant intends to be sourced. The only gas pipeline that runs through the North – the AKK- is still in its first phase of construction out of three phases and has been earmarked at the earliest, to be completed in 2023 – not counting the typical delays the project will experience along the way.

Should the AKK by some stroke of luck materialize much earlier than the target date, the pipeline route is a considerable distance from Borno. It runs the route of Ajaokuta-Abuja-Katsina-Kano, its endpoint, a striking 481km from Borno State. Thus, there would have to be construction of a tie-in pipeline almost as long as the AKK from Kano to Borno State to get gas to Borno.

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Optimists may reference the oil and gas discovery in the North and how production may start soon, thus obliterating the need for a 481km pipeline. This optimism however is not well-founded, as insecurity has been shown to be a major risk to oil and gas projects everywhere in the world. One of the major reasons the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline proposed to run from Nigeria to Algeria was abandoned was due to security challenges posed by Nigeria’s Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the Tuareg guerilla movement in Niger and other insurgent groups along the proposed route of the pipeline.

These increased the risks across board, including for completion and operations through the lifecycle of the project. As such, failing to fix the security threats in northeast Nigeria makes any proposed gas plant project a pipe dream. Transporting gas via LNG trucks is not a better option, given that the drivers and their cargoes would be in danger of being kidnapped, shot at or bombed. The risks for both personnel and investors are high.

In any event, promising a power plant in 4 months for the people of Borno is unconscionable, since a typical gas power plant will take between 1 to 6 years to construct in relatively peaceful regions. What the government needs to do instead of making promises it cannot keep is to work arduously to fix the security challenges in Northern Nigeria and at the same time consider using decentralised solar power to provide power supply to homes, government institutions, schools and businesses while plans to produce gas in the region or transport gas to it are underway.

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Lagos Commissioner of Police dismantles road blocks on Lagos-Badagry expressway

The Commissioner warned the concerned Area Commanders to take action on full compliance as any defaulter will be sanctioned accordingly.

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The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered the immediate dismantling of all illegal roadblocks by police teams from the command on the Lagos-Badagry expressway.

The directive is to checkmate the illegal activities of the police on that route which have been condemned by the government, some stakeholders and international bodies and also bring sanity and decency to their operations along that axis.

That disclosure is contained in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, on Saturday, April 10, 2021.

Adejobi in the statement said that CP Odumosu gave the order on Friday while addressing Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers in the command on the general security situation in the state and reviewing the anti-crime strategies of the command in order to sustain its feats on crime control.

What the statement from the Lagos State Police Command is saying

The statement from the Lagos Police Command partly reads, “In his bid to restore sanity and decency to the operations of the police along the ever-busy international route, Lagos/Badargy Expressway, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered for the immediate dismantling of illegal roadblocks by the police teams from the Lagos State Police Command.

The police boss, while reacting to some complaints from the general public and some security reports on the police activities along the international route, ordered the Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers whose jurisdictions fall along the Badargy Expressway; Festac and Area K, Marogbo, to withdraw their men from the illegal roadblocks and embark on aggressive motorised patrol and surveillance to police their areas and the route.

The Commissioner of Police confirmed that the illegal police roadblocks along the route have been condemned by the government, international bodies and interest groups and they must be dismantled without delay,” he said.

The Commissioner, however, noted that other police operatives from other police formations, outside the supervision of the Lagos State Police Command who operate along the route, would be contacted to adjust and do the needful to restore sanity to their operations.

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The CP Odumosu then warned the concerned Area Commanders to desist and take necessary action on full compliance with his order as any defaulter will be sanctioned accordingly.

 

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