Arik Air has declared that its aircrafts are safe and in very good condition as it insists on its commitment to safety in all its operations, which it also said is well funded.
The reaction from the airline follows a story on social media that claims that Arik Air operations are unsafe due to an incident that occurred on March 8, 2021.
According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), this was disclosed in a statement issued by the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, in Lagos on Sunday, March 14, 2021.
The allegation against Arik Air
It can be recalled that a Benin-based legal practitioner, R.O. Isenalumhe, had alleged that an Arik Air aircraft he travelled with on March 7, 2021, from Abuja to Benin was unsafe, although the airline disputed that, saying that the lawyer travelled on March 8.
The legal practitioner said, “The flight was 5.50 pm from Benin. The take-off from Benin Airport was traumatic and clearly indicative that the plane was not in order.
“We, however, managed to land at Abuja Airport after 1 hour 15 mins. I was to return to Benin on the 8th March 2021 at 4.15 pm with the same aircraft.
“After an hour delay, we managed to take off. But 15 minutes into the flight, there was an announcement from the pilot that the flight cannot continue. The reason given was that there is an opening somewhere maybe a door.”
What the Chief Executive of Arik Air is saying
However, while refuting the claim from the lawyer, Ilegbodu stated that” Our attention has been drawn to stories published on the social media claiming that Arik Air operations are unsafe following an incident last week.
“The incident referred to by the author of the article occurred in Abuja on the 8th of March, 2021.
“For the records, the actions taken by the crew of the flight were strictly precautionary as the Pilot-in-Command of the aircraft took the necessary safety measures by returning the aircraft to land as they have been well trained to do in line with standard practice, after observing a cautionary indication light in the cockpit.
“Our aircraft are modern, next-generation aircraft equipped with redundancies and annunciators that enhance safe operations in all stages of flight.
“Arik Air, in line with standard practice and being a responsible corporate organisation, notified the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which subsequently checked, certified and returned the aircraft to service after all mandatory reports and processes had been fulfilled in accordance with global safety standards.
“It is unfortunate that one R. Isenalumhe, a trained lawyer who raised the alarm, displayed an unprofessional approach to this issue as he is not an expert to declare an aircraft unsafe.
“We had expected him to go the extra mile to investigate and ask questions from professionals in the industry or refer the incident to the appropriate regulatory body, the NCAA if he felt so concerned about air safety.
“We wonder what his motive may be and Arik reserves the right to take action on this libellous and unprofessional conduct.
“Arik Air as an organisation goes over and above safety standards in all facets of our operations. This is clearly evident in our over 14 years of operating as an airline.
“Safety is our cardinal policy and we will never operate an aircraft that is unsafe. We seize this opportunity to assure our esteemed customers of our unflinching commitment to safety which can never be compromised”.
“Arik has not made any repayments to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on its pre-receivership debt as claimed by Mr Isenalumhe. Neither has AMCON put any undue pressure on Arik for repayments at the detriment of operation.
“Instead, AMCON had provided funds and all forms of support to assist the airline in its operations,” he added.
What you should know
- This is coming at a time the Federal Government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is working round the clock to ensure the safety of aircrafts and the Nigerian airspace.
- This is also as airlines and other stakeholders in the aviation industry have requested a bailout from the Federal Government for an industry that has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
- It can be recalled that AMCON took over the assets of Arik Air in February 2017 and placed it under receivership over alleged mismanagement and debt in excess of N300b by its former owners.
Power Minister explains why power outages have risen
The Minister cited a breakdown of some National Integrated Power Plants supplying electricity to the national grid as being behind the recent power outages.
The Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman explained why power outages have increased in Nigeria citing a breakdown of some National Integrated Power Plants supplying electricity to the national grid.
The Minister disclosed this in a statement on Thursday morning, assuring Nigerians that the FG is working assiduously to restore the National grid to its previous historical levels and exceed that.
What the Minister is saying
- I sincerely regret the recent power outages across the Nation and the difficulties it has brought with it.
- The problem is caused by the breakdown of some National Integrated Power Plants supplying electricity to the national grid. The plants are namely, Sapele, Afam, Olonrunsogo, Omotosho, Ibom, Egbin, Alaoji and Ihovbor. The Jebba Power Plant was shut down for annual maintenance.
The Minister added that seven power plants are currently experiencing gas constraints including Geregu, Sepele, Omotosho, Gbarain, Omuku, Paras and Alaoji while Shiroro hydroelectric power plant has water management issues.
Fuel subsidy: To be or not to be?
The fuel subsidy removal extension has clearly disrupted months of expected fuel deregulation.
Reports emerged that the Nigerian Government may suspend plans to discontinue its subsidy payments as reports indicate that the FG plans to spend N720 billion for the next 6 months on petroleum subsidies.
A government source disclosed that “specifically, President Buhari has asked the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to suspend any idea on subsidy removal for five to six months so that a plan that does not harm ordinary Nigerians is evolved if the deregulation must go on.”
The news of subsidy extension may come as a surprise after Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director, NNPC just last month hinted that the Federal Government spends N120 billion a month on subsidies and may increase fuel pump price to between N211 – N238/litre soon to reflect market prices, as the NNPC may no longer carry the burden of the actual market price.
Also, in January 2021, the federal government insisted that it will go ahead with its policy on the removal of subsidy on petrol and electricity, with no provision made in the 2021 budget for their subsidy.
“We are not bringing back fuel subsidy. We didn’t make provision for fuel subsidy in the budget. The impact of what was done was reducing some of the cost components that were within the template. And also related to it, on matters of electricity subsidies, no provisions have been made for subsidy for fuel and no provisions have been made for subsidy for electricity,” Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed disclosed.
Why then is the Federal Government extending something it has clearly stated to be a burden on its finances, even to the point of making no provision for it in the National Budget? David Hundeyin, Award-winning journalist and BusinessDay columnists says the deal to extend subsidy has setback any discussion on the deregulation of the sector.
On consequences of subsidy extension
“It has effectively postponed any talk of deregulation for at least another 6 months, which means the current hideous arrangement which distorts the market for the benefit of a tiny few will persist for at least that long,” Hundeyin said.
What the government needs to put in place before subsidy removal
The major reason subsidy removal is a touchy topic is the simple fact that Nigerians cannot afford the hike in PMS price that would accompany subsidy removal. Needless to say, that another hike in the price of PMS would further drive up food inflation rate (which is currently over 20%). When other consequences such as increased cost of transportation and increased cost of powering small businesses are considered in the light of prevailing economic realities, the hardship that a hike would inflict on ordinary Nigerians is not hard to imagine.
Removing fuel subsidy would require a long-term play of communication and serious policy direction which focuses mainly on increasing GDP per capita of citizens to handle the inevitable subsidy removal. Hundeyin also stresses the need for a clear communication strategy between the government and the masses.
“The most important thing is a clear communication strategy to educate Nigerians about the true state of their public finances and rid them of the notion that the fact of being an oil-producing country entitles Nigerians to cheap or subsidized fuel. Of course, this will require political will which currently is not there, so this is unlikely to happen,” he says.
The fuel subsidy removal extension has clearly disrupted months of expected fuel deregulation, especially since the NNPC had made it clear that it cannot afford to continue paying subsidy. However, removing fuel subsidy at a period of rising food inflation and unemployment would have proved a serious political and economic faux pax as most Nigerians are barely getting by.
The FG needs to do more in the areas of communication, creating and implementing economic policies that drive productivity and wealth creation with the ultimate aim of improving GDP per capita.
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