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We Mistook Naira Marley for Fashola—Executive Jets

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Executive Jets

By Dipo Olowookere

The Chairman/CEO of Executive Jets Services Limited, Mr Sam Iwuajoku, has apologised to the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, for violating the lockdown rule and operating a commercial flight.

One of the jets of the company was used to convey popular pop artiste, Mr Azeez Fashola, otherwise known as Naira Marley, to a concert held in Abuja on Sunday.

A video of the event held at the Jabi Lake Mall was posted on the internet and it generated reactions because government was yet to lift the ban on concerts in the country.

Concerts and event centres were shut down across the country as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus disease.

On Monday, the Minister, while addressing newsmen, announced revoking the operating licence of Executive Jets and sanctioning of the pilot who flew the small plane.

In a letter dated Monday, June 15, 2020, the CEO of the company, claimed his company airlifted the musician to Abuja from Lagos for the event because they thought he was the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who governed Lagos State from 2007 to 2011.

Mr Iwuajoku, who described Naira Marley and his crew on the controversial flight as “a bunch of useless people,” assured the Minister such unfortunate incident will never occur again.

He said though the aircraft was initially billed to convey a judge to Abuja, when the judge was called a day earlier of the flight, he said someone else had taken him to Abuja.

“We hereby apologize for the above flight, with your permit ref: FMA/ATMD/0175/V/V/1268 dated June 11, 2020.

“Please the flight was to carry a judge to Abuja on Sunday, June 14, 2020 as requested and permit was granted based on the application, but unfortunately, when I called the judge on Saturday morning to inform him that we have the permit, he then said he has reached Abuja already with a different flight that someone gave him a lift to Abuja.

“So, on Saturday morning June 13, 2020, my staff called me that they have a charter flight to Abuja and that the passengers are already in the lounge as a rule passenger manifest is always sent to me before any departure, when I went through the manifest and I saw FASHOLA BABATUNDE, I thought it was the Honourable Minister of Works going to Abuja with his men, so we decided to do the flight since is a serving minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I didn’t know that it was a bunch of useless people.

“We are very sorry for this mistake and we promise that this would not happen again.

“Kindly see attached passenger manifest for the flight.

“Thank you for your understanding,” the letter said.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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NAAPE Decries Non-Payment of Pensions, Tackles AMCON

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sack pilots NAAPE

By Ahmed Rahma

The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has called on the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to pay no fewer than 50 of its members in Aero Contractors redundancy benefits, having declared them since 2016.

This call was made by the president of NAAPE, Mr Abednego Galadima, during a chat with newsmen over the weekend in Lagos.

He said some of the challenges in the industry include non-remittance of pension deducted from its members, explaining how these will become thorny issues in the not too distant future.

Mr Galadima decried how the staff of Aero have suffered and how whatever was accrual to them since 2016 may have lost value having gone through recession twice and inflation countless times.

“The issue of the redundancy benefit payment of Aero Contractors has lingered too long, as you may recall, Aero is under receivership and they rendered people redundant since 2016.

“We are still battling to see that our members are paid their benefits. The time value for money has already been lost; I want to call on AMCON to see that this money is immediately paid so that these Nigerians would go home and get on with their lives,” he said

“To be fair with you, we know we have over 50 workers but the total money so far is still being calculated.

“The Aero management reneged on their commitment to giving every worker a letter communicating to him what is due to him so we can’t provide that figure.

“The airline itself has done its calculation but they have not communicated what each category is entitled to, based on what the union agreed with those affected since 2016,” the president stated.

On issues of non-remittance of deducted pension funds, the NAAPE president drew the attention of employers in the aviation industry to the negative trend explaining that if these funds are not remitted, it would amass and the employers would not be able to pay, stressing that it is another challenge waiting to rear its head in the no distant future.

He said, “We also want you to publicize some of the challenges NAAPE is having, particularly in the areas of pension. Employers, most of the operators in this industry do not pay deducted pensions of their staff as at when due. And you know as a worker, you always look forward to retirement and that is what we normally fall back on.

“Most of the private operators still owe staff, especially our members’ pensions; they deduct and not remit. We want them to be sensitized to know that this is not right, and by the time they accumulate it, it becomes very difficult for them to pay.”

AMCON took over Aero Contractors in February 2016 and in March 2017, the airline issued redundancy to over 60 per cent of its staff which saw endless days of union activities and according to NAAPE, up till now, no staff declared redundant has been paid.

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FAAN Temporarily Shuts Lagos Airport Runway

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Lagos Airport Runway

By Ahmed Rahma

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has announced the temporary closure of Runway 18R/36L at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

According to a statement on Tuesday, signed by the General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the closure was due to a landing incident.

“The closure is due to a landing incident involving a Boeing 737 Azman Air aircraft with registration 5N SYS, and flight number ZQ2325. The aircraft had a tyre burst after landing on this runway,” FAAN said.

The agency added that all passengers and crew on board the aircraft were safely evacuated and officials of FAAN Air Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, are working to ensure the aircraft is towed out of the runway, so as to restore normalcy.

“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria hereby announces a temporary closure of Runway 18R/36L at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.

“All passengers and crew onboard the aircraft were safely evacuated at 1908 hours, and officials of FAAN Air Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, AIB, and NAHCO are already working to ensure the aircraft is towed out of the runway, so as to restore normalcy,” the statement read.

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United Nigeria Airlines Commences Operations Friday

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United Nigeria Airlines

By Dipo Olowookere

All is now set for the inaugural flight of United Nigeria Airlines as the management has confirmed that the company will begin operations on Friday, February 12, 2021.

According to the organisation’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, the inaugural flight will be conducted with an EMB145 aircraft.

He further disclosed that the flight will depart Lagos through the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MM2), Ikeja and then land at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu.

Mr Uchegbu further said the aircraft will thereafter leave Enugu to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja before making a return to Lagos.

He said adequate preparations have been made for a smooth journey through the different routes, noting that the company was ready to put a smile on the faces of passengers.

The image-maker of United Nigeria Airlines expressed confidence that the company will transform the way people fly, assuring that they will get value for their money and trust in the firm.

He said, for now, the airline will carry out regular daily flight operations to Lagos, Abuja, Asaba, Enugu, with Port Harcourt and Owerri to follow very soon.

United Nigeria Airlines, after fulfilling all mandatory regulatory requirements, was issued an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), enabling it to begin flight domestic operations.

Business Post gathered from reports that United Nigeria Airlines is owned by a billionaire businessman, Mr Obiorah Okonkwo. The airline is operated by Private Airlines Services Limited.

The company aims to become the most efficient airline operator in Nigeria and increase its assets and investments to support the development of its services for regional and international operations and then build good reputation in the aviation sector and become a strategic player in the industry, globally.

United Nigeria Airlines is coming on board at a time the aviation industry is struggling to get back on its feet as a result of the devastating blow it was dealt with by COVID-19, which forced governments across the globe to restrict the movement of people.

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NSE Lauds Transcorp Hotel’s Desire for Sustained Growth

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Transcorp Hotels

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The board and management of Transcorp Hotel Plc have been commended for their “commitment towards the sustained growth of this reputable brand.”

This applause was given by the CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr Oscar Onyema, last week at the listing of the company’s rights issue on the trading platform of the bourse.

Transcorp Hotels listed additional 2,642,124,511 ordinary shares valued at N10 billion on the NSE last Thursday, while the CEO of the firm, Mrs Dupe Olushola, was honoured with the closing gong ceremony.

At the event, Mr Onyema noted that the 99.3 per cent subscription level recorded by the exercise showed the confidence investors have in the organisation despite the prevailing macro-economic challenges.

“I congratulate the board and management of Transcorp Hotel’s plc for their laudable commitment towards the sustained growth of this reputable brand.

“Transcorp Hotels Plc’s successful capital raise with a rights issue of 2,642,124,511 additional ordinary shares which was 99.3 per cent subscribed despite the prevailing macro-economic challenges is highly commendable.

“At the exchange, we remain committed to providing issuers with a platform that allows them to meet their strategic business objectives and it is our delight to see listed companies take full advantage of the NSE’s products and services to support their growth trajectory,” Mr Onyema said.

In her remarks, the MD of Transcorp Hotels thanked the NSE, shareholders and others for the successful completion of the N10 billion rights issue.

“The past year has been a challenging one given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hospitality sector, and that Transcorp Hotels has not only survived but is firmly on the road to recovery is a testament of the efficacy of our initiatives and we thank you for your belief ins us,” she said.

Mrs Olushola noted that, “Moving forward, we are optimistic about 2021 and we have begun the year in a strong position. We will continue to deepen our share and expand our market leveraging best in class technology and providing the highest service standard across our locations.”

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7 Must-Visit Places in Nigeria

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Nigeria Must-Visit Places

Nigeria is a country with the largest population on the African continent. While this nation is crowded, it has limitless attractions to offer to tourists.

Tropical rainforests, exotic beaches, scenic waterfalls, natural springs, structures of historical significance, and national parks. Indeed, there are many untapped travel destinations that you can find in Nigeria.

So, for the avid traveller, you shouldn’t forget to visit Nigeria while you’re in Africa. Here are the best places that you can see and experience in the country.

Ikogosi Cold and Warm Spring

In Ikogosi, a town in the state of Ekiti, there’s a natural tourist attraction where you can find warm and cold springs. This place is one of the best spots for experiencing the beauty of Nature. To add to this natural wonder, the scenic topography and verdant trees around the area also satisfy your senses.

There’s a resort that has been built around the warm and cold springs that cater to tourists who want to relax, eat, and stay the night.

Tarkwa Bay Beach

Tarkwa Bay Beach is located near Lagos Harbor. The hospitable locals there warmly welcome tourists who want to enjoy various kinds of water sports and activities. Although it’s a public beach, the place has a relatively smaller number of crowds compared to other public beaches in Lagos.

You can take your friends, family, and lover to Tarkwa Beach. Visit it during weekdays so that you won’t encounter a huge crowd.

Osun Sacred Grove

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Osun Sacred Grove is a must-see tourist attraction in Nigeria. Locals and foreigners venerate this sacred forest due to its mysterious and wonderful atmosphere.

According to the Yoruba people, this sacred forest is where their goddess of fertility, Osun, is taking abode. While walking along the trails in Osun Sacred Grove, you will see statues and shrines built for the deities of the Yoruba people. There’s also a festival celebrated every year to pay homage to Osun.

Obudu Cattle Ranch

Situated on the picturesque Obudu Plateau, the Obudu Cattle Ranch is a place you should include in your itinerary when you visit Nigeria. The ranch has semi-temperate weather, a calming atmosphere, and an attractive landscape.

For accommodations, you can rent a room or hut on the ranch. While it’s open for tourists throughout the year, it’s better to visit the place between October and February. Don’t forget to send Flow top-up to your friends and family so that you can stay connected with them.

Yankari Games Reserve

Located in Bauchi State, the Yankari Games Reserve is a place where you can find different species of animals and plants. There are also caves in the area if you want some good old spelunking activity.

You can also find wells with interconnecting shafts used by slaves during the transatlantic slave trade era. The Yankari Games Reserve also features crystal clear warm springs where you can relax and enjoy in peace.

Kano City Walls

While it’s undeniable that the city of Kano is already taken over by modernity, you can still find remnants of its being the centre for commerce during the trans-Saharan trade era. One proof of this is the brown-mud walls protecting the city from invasion during that time.

Besides the city walls, there are mud houses that are constructed by the Hausa people. The marriage of old and modern influences create a unique ambiance to the city. Kano is a must-visit place if you want to be taken back to the old Nigeria.

Zuma Rock

Zuma Rock is among the most well-known tourist attractions in Nigeria. It’s a massive natural monolith – standing at 980 feet – that has a feature resembling a human face. There are myths and legends concerning this rock. For instance, the Zuba people see the mountains surrounding it as paying homage to the rock by maintaining a great distance from it.

You can climb or hike to the top of the rock and have a panoramic view of the city of Abuja. If you’re not into climbing, you can take a picture of this magnificent natural structure below. It’s best to visit it between April and October to catch sight of the most talked-about Zuma Rock Fire phenomenon.

Takeaway

Nigeria has many tourist attractions to offer to visitors. You can go to the Kano City Walls, Yankari Games Reserve, Obudu Cattle Ranch, Zuma Rock, Osun Sacred Grove, Tarkwa Bay Beach, and Ikogosi Cold and Warm Springs if you want a spectacular travel experience in this country.

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Nigerian Railway Corporation Begins Skeletal Sale of Online Tickets

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Railway ticket sale

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

After several calls by passengers for the sale of tickets online, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) commenced test bookings on its platform.

This information was disclosed by the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, who added that the skeletal sale is restricted to the Abuja to Kaduna route.

In a tweet posted via his Twitter handle on Wednesday, the Minister stated that the services would be extended to other routes from next week.

“Yes, we have commenced test bookings on the NRC e-ticketing platform, starting with the Abuja-Kaduna rail line. Next week, we’ll launch fully. Check it out and make bookings at nrc.tps.ng,” he said.

The adoption of online ticket sale is expected to reduce the ticket racketeering complained about at most rail stations in the country.

When Business Post checked the website provided by Mr Amaechi for the online booking, it was not accessible on the Mozilla Firefox browser but accessible on the Google Chrome platform.

It was observed that the bookings available on the Abuja and Kaduna destinations were only for two days, January 13 and 14. The booking was smooth, with safety information given as regards the COVID-19 protocols, which requires the use of hand sanitizer, washing of hands and wearing of a face mask.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has transformed the almost dead rail sector in Nigeria. This has made him to be commended by many Nigerians.

The Nigerian Railway System pioneered the rapid opening up of the geographical area called Nigeria, therefore, represents the oldest modern form of transportation in Nigeria.

Railway development in Nigeria was initiated by private interest. This was later taken over by the then colonial government as Government Railway for the purpose of easy and cheap movement of bulk goods from the hinterlands to the seaports and vice versa.

The 112-year-old agency runs a unilaterally designed track system of 1067mm cape gauge. Only 30km of its track distribution is in double track and that is within Lagos area.

The Nigerian Railway System actually commenced rail business activities with the construction of the first rail line from Lagos to Ibadan (193km) between 1898 and 1901. By 1964 when the construction of 640km Kano – Maiduguri rail line, then known as Bornu extension, was completed, the present core of the railway network had been put in place.

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