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Balami Covers Pleasures Magazine’s March/April 2020 Issue

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Isaac Balami Covers Pleasures Magazine

The commercial aviation industry is a highly complex space, where a large number of entities are involved in the delivery of travel products and services, which is sometimes manifested in a single product from a customer perspective.

These actors are often collaborating and partnering to be able to co-deliver value and meet the expectation of customers.

According to International Air Transport Association (IATA) statistics, from the moment passengers search online for an air ticket to the time they arrive at their destination, the airline is just one of around 26 business partners involved in the aviation chain.

Would you board a plane if you know it had very poor maintenance record? Would you put your life in the hands of an airline that uses defective parts for its aircraft?

If you answered no to both questions, then you would appreciate the importance of other players involved, especially the aircraft maintenance industry.

Basically, the safety of air travel relies on the assurance of quality manufacturing of aviation equipment and its maintenance that ensure that complex and sensitive puzzles have to sit perfectly together for the success of each flight that takes place anywhere in the world.

Truth be told, aircraft maintenance, repair, overhaul and modification services have a long history of been seen as a ‘white man profession’ but there seems to be a paradigm shift in the profession with inspirational success stories from Africans who have great passion and love for all the aviation industry.

In fact, it is not out of place to state that with the new crop of top African aircraft talented aircraft engineers with excellent technical knowledge blazing a path forward, it’s been difficult for the industry not to sit up and take note of the shift.

Therefore, to deepen the importance of celebrating Great Success stories in Africa and also correct the wrong impression that whenever the continent is mentioned it is only a prism of war, corruption, disease, poverty, and hunger PLEASURES Magazine presents the theme of the March/April 2020 issue of your deluxe Pan-African Entrepreneurial and Luxury magazine: Paradigm Shift, a special edition to celebrate the success story of Isaac Balami, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 7 Stars Global Hangar, the first-ever Aircraft Maintenance Repair and Overhauling Facility in the West African sub-region who has also excelled greatly as the President of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers.

As earlier mentioned, once a White man’s turf, aircraft maintenance, which encompasses the performance of tasks required to ensure the continuing airworthiness of an aircraft or aircraft part, including overhaul, inspection, replacement, defect rectification, and the embodiment of modifications, compliance with airworthiness directives and repair.

Balami, who once worked as a painter and soak-away evacuator who is taking the world by storm is proving that this notion has been sent to the oblivion. But of course, it took some grit, guts and a lot of hard work along the way for Balami to get there.

In this exclusive interview with PLEASURES Magazine, the President, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) who doubles as the Chief Executive Officer of 7 Stars Global Hangar, Engr Isaac David Balami, speaks with the Publisher, PLEASURES Magazine, Adedotun Babatunde, on his amazing journey from been a suya seller, painter and suck-away evacuator to one of the leading providers of aircraft maintenance, repair, overhaul and modification services in the world.

According to him, ‘’I come from an extremely humble Christian background in Borno state, a state in north-eastern Nigeria. My parents and grandparents were privileged to be Christians, my parents are also pastors. I grew up in a large family, my parents were not doing very well and found it hard to pay for the kind of school I wanted to go to.

“One thing I tell people is this, in life, you must know who you are! God did not bring anybody into this world for no reason, everybody has a reason why he or she is existing. My family named me Isaac because they believed I would bring laughter to the family, community and my generation.

“So, I remain focus though the future was still obscure then. At a very young age, I would do menial jobs like laundry, farming among others to augment the little money my parents had to go to school.

“But today, who would have thought that a mere labourer just 22 years ago could become the national president of the Association of Nigerian Pilots and Engineers? Who would have thought that an ordinary mai suya in the north some years ago could become the past spokesperson of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria? Who would have thought that a filthy and stenchy soak-away evacuator from the North-Eastern part of Nigeria could become the president of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum?

“Who would have thought that a man who could hardly afford a daily meal could cater for over 500 widows and sponsor nearly 500 children in school as a commitment from a foundation he owns? Who would have thought that a helpless man who faced a lot of challenges would be the founder of Nigeria Rebirth Project?” he asked rhetorically.

On what has helped him to become what he is today, Engr Balami averred that the Industry is for the bold and courageous.

He said: “What has helped me is my being bold. It takes a bold person to be able to take up the pressures in the Aviation Industry. It is not for weak people. Growing up you can imagine a young man, sleeping and waking up in the bush, encountering snakes and all sorts.

“Going through that wilderness, going through tough times, sponsoring myself, these are what have shaped me! Aviation is a global business but at the time you would hardly see Nigerians in the various fields in the Aviation industry.

“I was young and inexperienced but I had the drive, passion and commitment to excel and it was my desire for the airline owners to be able to train locals to take up the jobs the white people were doing, not that I was racist but because I believed they can do it.”

Against the threat of being sacked, he said he contest for election to be head of the airline and won by a landslide victory against the incumbent president who was his director at the time.

“I chose between losing my job and winning the election and I made them know that if I lost the election it would be on record that I chose to salvage my people working in this industry at the peril of losing my job.”

On the making of his yet to be launched airline, Engr Balami said “The airline will redefine the aviation industry, and change the entire narrative.

“The plan is if you fly economy class with us, you will be treated as a business class passenger. Currently, we’re bringing in some aircraft that have all been converted to business class. We will be having our VIP lounge therein; we are trying to give people that fly private jets an exquisite experience with us.

“With us, you’re assured of safety and comfort. With God by our side. It’s a one-stop-shop and we’re redefining the entire status quo.”

On what the future holds for 7 Star Global Hangar, Engr Balami averred that in the next three years, the company project to be at the New York Stock Exchange while in the next five years, it will not just be doing Aircraft maintenance but by God’s grace have assembled a team of aeronautical engineers, aircraft maintenance engineers to fly the first made in Nigeria aircraft.

“The Chinese now have made in China Aircrafts. While we are still a consuming nation? We can manufacture aircraft, if from nowhere, a boy from Borno, God can use me today to create jobs in the aviation sector, if as a nobody, God can take me to this height, what that means is that with the current team I have on the ground, with the expertise, the experience will be global exposure. We can salvage the Nigerian Aviation sector,” he said.

On giving back to society through NGO, he said the Isaac Balami foundation a Nigeria Initiative is empowering and uniting people.

According to him, “The night I prayed to God to give me a scholarship was the night I established the Isaac Balami foundation. The moment God gave me a job, I started funding the foundation. The Isaac Balami Foundation is aimed at empowering the less privileged and uniting people.

“We train people to acquire skills, we help the needy with fees among other humanitarian activities. Coming from Borno state, I was raised in the midst of Muslims, I was trained and empowered by Muslims and the Isaac Balami Foundation is working to ensure there is unity, national healing, peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance.

“Today, Nigeria is polarized, so much dichotomy, so much hatred and envy amongst us. When I saw that we are at that level, I had to go beyond the Isaac Balami Foundation for the My Nigeria Initiative to emerge. We wrote to the Presidency and today the First Lady is our National Grand Matron.

“We launched this foundation with several dignitaries and ambassadors from across Nigeria in attendance. We called together 200 youth organizations and held a programme to sign a peace accord after our brothers and sisters from the eastern part of the country were asked to leave the north. Since then, there has been a lot of stability and peace.”

Also featured, in your favourite PLEASURES Magazine is the President of Seychelles, H.E Danny Faure, who believes persistence is important in becoming a leader in your field. A seasoned and experienced politician, President Faure talks to PLEASURES Magazine about how his own experiences and his motivation to improve the lives of the Seychellois people, as well as those around the world. Also, an exclusive on Beech Holdings, owned by one of Manchester’s biggest developers Stephen Beech, PLEASURES Magazine caught up with him to talk about the growth of Manchester and what the future holds for Beech Holdings.

It is also a pleasant read with, Morin O’s Creative Director, Maureen Obaweya, who has been on the cutting edge of making quality leather goods in Africa for over two decades. A look at Century Plaza, a luxury living in the heart of Los Angeles and latest collections from African Luxury fashion brand by Adebayo Jones, the London based fashion Designer and style consultant who have long been associated with glamour, elegance, opulence and style. And as usual, the magazine is incomplete without your usual light stories and other human-interest narratives such as startup success stories of Kator Hule and Olubunmi Crown Gbadewole.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Apprehension Over AMCON MD’s Visit to EFCC

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AMCON Ahmed Kuru

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The visit of the Managing Director of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Ahmed Kuru, to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is already causing apprehension.

Mr Kuru was reportedly grilled by the anti-graft agency on Wednesday after he was invited by the organisation for questioning.

Already, it is being speculated that his ordeal with the EFCC may be connected with the plans by AMCON to name and shame chronic debtors, who took loans from commercial banks but refused to repay as promised.

Yesterday, the AMCON MD was grilled by the agency over allegations bordering on the diversion of assets and the sale of the properties to his associates at ridiculous prices.

According to reports, Mr Kuru allegedly sold properties valued at billions of naira belonging to Atlantic to another despite a court case on the assets.

Atlantic was accused of loan default with Skye Bank and the properties in collateral were seized and allegedly sold below the prevailing market value while the action was instituted in court.

Amid these accusations, the EFCC is yet to comment at the time of filing this report.

AMCON is an agency set up by the federal government to acquire all toxic loans of commercial banks, with the aim of recovering them.

In November 2021, the agency submitted a list containing its top 1,000 obligors owing N4.4 trillion to the National Assembly.

Mr Kuru had said with the support of the parliament and the Judiciary, recovering the total current exposure on all Eligible Bank Asset (EBAs), which stands at N4.4 trillion, may be possible before the sunset period.

He had lamented that more recently, due to the socio-economic downturn, the market values of assets have significantly reduced, lower than the valuation at the point of EBAs purchase, making it extremely difficult to consummate sales transactions.

“To enable AMCON to succeed in its national call to duty, AMCON solicits the continued support of this Distinguished Committee. The Judiciary must be encouraged to respect the provisions of the law that require them to fast-track cases before them, issue certificates of judgement on properties, which the Corporation has no collateral and demand debtors to deposit Judgment sum before proceeding to appeal any judgement,” he had stated.

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NSCDC Denies Operating Illegal Oil Bunkering Site

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Illegal Oil Bunkering Site

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has debunked the rumour that its marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro jetty, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, was an illegal oil bunkering site.

This was made known by the Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Mr Aliyu Bature, who explained that the Ogbogoro jetty has remained its marine exhibits yard for over 10 years.

He added that every marine exhibit like boats, vessels, barges drums, arrested by or handed over to the Corps by sister agencies for oil theft are usually detained at the yard, pending investigation and court prosecution.

This follows claims made by Obio/Akpor LGA Chairman, Mr George Ariolu, that the NSCDC marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro was being used for illegal bunkering activities.

In the reaction to the allegation, Mr Bature disclosed that the NSCDC Commandant General, Mr Abubakar Audi, in December 2021 visited the said yard, maintaining that it was a known fact that the yard has been the Corps’ marine exhibits yard.

The agency said some of the exhibits, including 220 drums of AGO and eight Cotonou boats in the yard were seized by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to the NSCDC last week, while other vessels were taken by operatives of the Corps.

He disclosed that the agency has got an intelligence report that hoodlums were planning to attack the yard, by setting it ablaze in order to destroy the exhibits, assuring that such plans will be strongly resisted.

“This place is our marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump. Most of the exhibits here were arrested by the Navy and handed over to us, while some of the arrests too were made by us.

“The commandant general was here in December and he’s aware that this place is our exhibits yard.

“The Commandant General has deployed personnel to ensure the place is secured, Ogbogoro jetty is a no-go area for anybody because destroying this place means destroying the exhibits to prove that these products were all stolen.

“We had it on good authority that hoodlums were planning to attack this place in order to destroy the exhibits and we will not allow that,” the statement said.

The NSCDC also urged members of the public to report any personnel of the organisation who is involved in the business of aiding and abetting oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism, warning that the agency will not hesitate to show such person the way out.

“If any of our personnel is caught, please report the person to us and we will discipline the person accordingly.

“The NSCDC leadership does not in any way condone acts of indiscipline. We are charged to protect critical national assets and if any of our personnel is involved, we will not take it likely.

“That is why those who were in charge of the anti-vandal unit have been disbanded, and are being investigated currently by the committee set up by the Commandant General,” the statement said.

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Senate Re-amends Electoral Bill, Okays Direct, Indirect, Consensus Primaries

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which passed by the National Assembly on November 18, 2021, and sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent but was rejected, has been re-amended.

The President declined assent to the bill because the parliament inserted a clause that makes it mandatory for political parties to elect candidates for elections only through direct primaries.

On Wednesday, the Senate adjusted this clause and approved direct, indirect primaries or consensus as to the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions.

The upper chamber of the legislative arm of government, in a statement signed by Mr Ezrel Tabiowo, the Special Assistant on Press to Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, said the recommended Clause 84(3) was also approved.

The section stated that “a political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party.”

Clause 84(4) further provides that “a political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall adopt the procedure outlined below; (a) In the case of nominations to the position of Presidential candidate, a political party shall, (i) hold special conventions in each of the 36 states of the federation and FCT, where delegates shall vote for each of the aspirants at designated centres in each State Capital on specified dates.”

The clause provides that a National Convention shall be held for the ratification of the candidate with the highest number of votes.

The amendment followed a motion for its re-commital to the Committee of the Whole, which was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Mr Yahaya Abdullahi.

In his presentation, the lawmaker noted that the rationale for Mr Buhari withholding assent bordered on his observation in Clause 84.

President Buhari in the letter dated December 13, 2021, and addressed to Mr Lawan had explained that his decision to withhold assent to the electoral bill was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government after a thorough review.

According to the President, signing the bill into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.

He added that it would also impact negatively on the rights of citizens to participate in government as constitutionally ensured.

Mr Abdullahi, however, explained that the motion for re-commital of the bill to the Committee on the Whole was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr President C-in-C and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended).”

Accordingly, the chamber rescinded its decision on the affected clause of the bill as passed and recommitted same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage.

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