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Daily Archives: October 20, 2019

Why FG is breaking monopoly in broadcasting — Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government is determined to end all forms of monopoly in broadcasting because it is detrimental to the actualisation of the immense potential in the industry.

The minister stated this on Sunday at a meeting in Lagos.

Mohammed recalled that he, on October 10, inaugurated the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Reform Implementation Committee to, among others, implement reforms to end monopoly in the sector.

The committee was also mandated to implement the review of National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect stiffer penalties for violators of broadcasting regulations as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“A situation where a few people corner a chunk of the industry to the detriment of others, especially our teeming and talented youths, is totally unacceptable and untenable.

“Monopolies stunt growth, kill talents and discourage creativity.

“The clearest example of the creative energy that can be unleashed when monopoly is totally broken can be seen in the telecommunications industry.

The minister added: “Of course, the broadcast industry has also been liberalised. But any vestige of monopoly is antithetical to the liberalisation of the broadcast industry and must be dismantled.

“In the case of Nigeria, it’s the monopoly of content that breeds anti-competition practices.

“You cannot use your financial or whatever power to corner and hold on tight to a chunk of the market, preventing others from having access.

“Such monopolies are crumbling everywhere in the world and Nigeria cannot be left out.

With the implementation of the committee’s mandate, television viewers, especially lovers of sports may witness an end to MultiChoice’s monopoly on the live airing of high-profile sporting events.

High-profile sporting events, especially for well-loved sports, particularly soccer, are currently only available to subscribers of DSTV.

Specifically, DSTV has the monopoly on live airing of English Premier League and UEFA Champions League in Nigeria.

A reliable source in the ministry said that the era of liberalisation is, therefore, expected to witness the sporting events being accessible to other pay-TVs and free to air platforms in the country.

It will be recalled that Independent Communications Authority Of South Africa (ICASA) had taken similar step by unveiling Draft Sports Broadcasting Services Amendment Regulations 2018.

The bill is aim at making big sporting events accessible for free to all citizens of South Africa.

Passengers scared as Boeing wants 737 Max back flying

On September 12, Boeing started putting out 30-second videos in which employees tout its planes’ safety, hoping to reassure travelers about the 737 MAX that was grounded after two fatal crashes.

“Safety is at the core of our business. We have put hundreds of engineers to work to ensure that this airplane is 100 percent ready,” says Jennifer Henderson, chief test pilot for the 737, in one of the clips.

“When the 737 MAX returns to service I will absolutely put my family on this airplane,” she stressed. But on a Facebook page for Boeing enthusiasts where the clip was posted, the response is negative.

“Well, I think she could not say it would be unsafe,” one member quipped, as Boeing faces the Herculean task of trying to regain the confidence of civil aviation authorities and the public, seven months after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines MAX that killed 157 people.

That came after the downing of a Lion Air MAX in Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189, with the plane’s MCAS anti-stall system being blamed in both accidents.

It’s not known when the MAX will return to service. Boeing, which still has not submitted a modified version of the MCAS system to regulators, hopes it will be before the end of the year.

“The 737 Max is, for now, an ‘airplane non grata’ — a plane passengers do not want to fly,” said Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco.

“Travelers aren’t merely scared of the 737 MAX, they’re terrified of it.”

Just 19 percent of business travellers and 14 percent of leisure travellers would willingly take the 737 MAX within six months of returning to the sky, according to an Atmosphere survey.

Nearly half of the 2,000 respondents said they would pay more to avoid the MAX.

Faced with this distrust, airlines are adapting.

“We will be transparent — and communicate in advance — with our customers who are booked to fly on a MAX aircraft, will rebook those who do not want to fly on a MAX at no charge, and for some time will not swap aircraft to a MAX if a change of aircraft is required,” said a spokesperson at United Airlines, which owns 14 MAX aircraft.

American Airlines, which has 24 MAX planes, has said its company brass and employees will be the first to fly on the aircraft once it’s cleared to return to the sky.

The MAX’s setbacks have cast a shadow over a century of history at Boeing, a highlight of which was the success of its 747 jumbo jet, nicknamed the “Queen of the skies.”

According to Harteveldt, half of business passengers and 55 percent of leisure passengers consider Boeing to be “irresponsible,” “arrogant” and “unsafe.”

Boeing’s management has addressed the trust issue.

“We know that trust has been damaged over the last few months and we own that and we are working hard to re-earn that trust going forward,” CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in August.

The trust may have been tested again on Friday, when it emerged that some potentially significant documents at Boeing were held back from investigators for months.

Boeing says it has conducted 1,447 flight test hours as of October 13 with the modified MCAS, and Muilenburg personally took part in two tests.

From late September to mid-October, the company also invited airline pilots to simulator training and information sessions in Miami, London, Istanbul, Shanghai and Singapore.


Again, Royal Air Maroc plane suffers cargo door incident in Lagos

Less than two weeks after an aircraft used by Air Maroc to operate a flight inward Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos had problem with the door of its cargo compartment, another aircraft used by the same airline to operate an outward flight from the same airport experienced similar incident on Sunday.

Confirming the incident, the management of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in a release by its spokesperson, Mrs Yakubu Henrientta noted the pilot of the aircraft discovered the the light of the cargo door flickered on after it has been visually certified locked and cleared for take off by concerned security operatives at the airport.
Not ready to take any risk, the pilot alerted the control tower to request return to the apron.

“The pilot flying a B737-700 belonging to Royal Air Maroc with registration number CN-RNQ discovered that the cargo door light was flickering on, despite the Aviation security escort visual observation that the Cargo door was closed. he alerted the control tower, requesting to return back to the apron, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, at about 05.30 hours today, October 20, 2019,” FAAN said.

According to the statement, “The Aviation Security escort team remained with the aircraft as it taxied back to the apron. At the apron, all concerned officers of FAAN and other agencies were on ground for thorough inspection.

“In line with standard and recommended practices, all parties concerned supervised the offloading and the re-screening of all the luggage belonging to all passengers on board the aircraft”.

Yakubu cleared that, every luggage on board the flight was certified intact in the presence of the airport manager and other top brass security personnel at the Lagos airport before the aircraft departed later this morning to Morocco.

“All the luggage belonging to the passengers were intact as certified by the team on ground before the flight eventually took-off at 10.06 hours in the presence of the Airport Manager and Chief Security Officer of the Airport.,” she said.

Escaped Kano lion: Police assure residents of adequate security

The Kano State Police Command says it has provided adequate security to ensure the protection of lives and property around Kano Zoological Garden following the escape of a lion from its cage.

The command’s Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Abdullahi Haruna, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Kano State on Sunday.

He said the command had deployed adequate armed policemen to prevent people from having access to the area in view of the prevailing situation.

The PPRO, however, advised the residents not to panic as experts and armed security personnel were making concerted efforts to capture the escaped animal.

He also called on the people of the area to be law-abiding and cooperate with security personnel as the police had already cordoned off the area to have total control.

NAN recalls that the lion escaped from its cage when rangers were trying to put it back in its cage after they returned it from Nasarawa State where the national agricultural show took place.

The incident had forced many residents of the area to remain indoors while motorists had deserted the ever-busy Zoo road since the incident happened on Saturday night.


Auto dealers ask Buhari to call Customs boss to order


On Saturday the 28th day of September, 2019, men of the Nigeria Customs Service carried out a wholesale clamp down on automobile dealerships nationwide with the sealing of all our members’ Premises.
It is very important to note that before the said sealing, no Court Order was obtained, neither was any Notice issued to us nor did we receive any communication or correspondence from the said Customs Service informing us of the reasons behind the said sealing of our members premises.

When some of our members engaged the Customs Services, they were informed that the exercise was carried out with a view to ascertain if smuggled vehicles were in the respective premises and that within a few days, the issue would be resolved after the verification of the importation documents of the automobiles in the sealed premises.
As we speak, the siege has entered its fourth week, thereby occasioning untold financial losses and severe hardship for not just us, the auto dealers but for the thousands of Nigerians employed in our businesses.

We have noted over time that the Comptroller-General of Customs appears to be zealously committed to improving the revenue generating capacity of the service.
We, however, have grave reservations as to the legality of this present action. While we have in the last three weeks been engaged in dialogue with the Customs service authorities, we have noted that our reputation as responsible corporate citizens of this country is being impugned and scandalised, no thanks to the prolonged closure of our business premises.
Thus, the public is left with the impression that we are all economic saboteurs and smugglers.

We are, therefore, constrained to make our position known to the public and emphatically state as follows: -.

1. None of our members is involved in the act of smuggling nor do we stock in our premises any smuggled vehicles whatsoever.

2. The sealing up of our premises was not sanctioned or backed by an order of Court.

3. The Customs and Excise Management Act does not empower the Customs Service to seal a business premises without first identifying contraband goods within the premises.

4. We as bona fide businessmen and corporate citizens lawfully engaged in the business of importation, sales and service of automobiles do not have the licence and or authority to personally clear automobiles directly from the ports as that duty statutorily belongs to Customs Licensed Clearing Agents. Therefore, any discrepancy in the documentation of any automobile imported through a Nigerian Sea Port should be placed at the doorsteps of the Customs Licensed Clearing Agents and the Customs Service.

Consequently, we are at a loss as to why we should bear the brunt of this draconian, ill-conceived and drastic blanket action. Even though we have been groaning under a cocktail of duties, multiple levies, taxes and terminal charges that have made the landing cost of automobiles into Nigeria the most expensive in the world.
We are particularly burdened by the 35% automotive industry levy payable after the stipulated 35% import duty. A fact not lost on the Comptroller General of Customs who has had cause to complain about it recently.

As patriotic Nigerians, we stand with Nigerian Customs Service in their drive for increased revenue and their determination to curb smuggling. Even as we commend the determination of Col. Hammed Ali (rtd), the Comptroller General of Customs to introduce international best practices in the process of clearing goods at our ports in the face of the chaotic state of affairs, we believe that due process should be followed without jeopardising the businesses of thousands of law abiding automobile dealers by this brazen and blanket clampdown.

To be sure, the effect of this unfortunate action on the part of the Customs Service has far reaching negative consequences on the reputation of Nigeria as a safe haven for investors and corresponding effect on Foreign Direct Investments. It stifles economic growth and negates this administration’s stated resolve to create employment because at the moment this unlawful action is threatening the job security of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians employed by us.

By this statement, we are making an urgent appeal to the President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the Nigerian Customs Service to rescind and desist from carrying out such unlawful and draconian actions in the future.

We are also conscious and well aware of our rights at law and should our premises continue to remain shut, we shall be constrained to enforce our rights and seek legal redress by commencing legal proceedings against the Nigeria Customs Services which would naturally come with damages for the huge amount of losses we have suffered.

In conclusion, we make a clarion call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the distinguished President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to prevail on the Nigeria Customs Service to cause an immediate unsealing of the premises of all the automobile dealers without any further delay.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria


Falana writes Lawan: No need for loans if we recover $103bn oil sale loss

Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has asked the National Assembly to work with anti-graft agencies for the recovery of “$103.7 billion lost on oil sale”.

In a letter to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, the senior lawyer said if Nigeria can recover the money lost to oil sale, there would be no need to seek foreign loans.

Nigeria is currently planning to secure the first tranche of a $3 billion loan from World Bank in April. According to Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, who disclosed this, the facility is meant to improve the power sector.

But Falana said Nigeria lost a larger part of the proceeds from oil as a result of the non-implementation of the deep offshore and inland basin production contracts act.

In the letter dated October 18, Falana said in 2015, he had raised the alarm that both government and international oil companies in the country failed to stick to the agreement for an upward review of loyalties whenever crude oil was sold beyond $20 per barrel in the international market.

“In his reaction to our allegation of economic sabotage by the public officers who deliberately refused to implement the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act the immediate past Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu admitted that the non implementation of the law by some unnamed public officers had led to a loss of oil revenue of over $60 billion,” he wrote.

“But due to the reluctance of the federal government to enforce the law the governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers States instituted an action at the Supreme Court in 2016 to compel the Federal government to recover the accrued royalties.

“In the judgment delivered in the case on October 18, 2018 the Supreme Court directed the Federal government to recover the royalties that had not been collected from the International Oil Companies for the past 18 years. Based on the judgment of the apex court the Federal government has demanded for the immediate payment of the sum of the sum of $62 billion by the defaulting oil companies.

“But the affected oil companies have filed fresh suits in the federal high court challenging the claim of the federal government. It is hoped that the federal high court will speed up the hearing of the new cases in view of the categorical pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the right of the federal government to recover the outstanding royalties.

“The National Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has disclosed that sum of $22 billion and N481 billion has been withheld from the Federation Account by the NNPC and some oil companies. Without any justification whatsoever the federal government has ignored the findings of the NEITI.

“If the National Assembly, under your able leadership, is prepared to resist pressures from vested interests and muster the political will to recover the said fund Nigeria will have no business begging for foreign loans from China, African Development Bank and the World Bank. Therefore, the National Assembly may wish to collaborate with the anti graft agencies in the recovery of the said sum of $103.7 billion without any delay.”

Falana alleged that in the course of their work on leakages in the national economy, they also discovered that sometime in 2006, the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) illegally withdrew $7 billion from the nation’s foreign reserves and fixed same in 14 commercial banks.

He said Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor, had also ignored their demand for the recovery of $7 billion and the accrued interests from the 14 commercial banks.

Apart from the expected revenue of $1.5 billion from the implementation of the amended deep offshore and inland basin production contracts act, Falana said the outstanding royalties, fixed deposit and other funds withheld or diverted from the federation account are not less than $103.7 billion.

Buhari to meet Putin in Russia

President Muhammadu Buhari will meet with Valdimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, within the week.

Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.

Shehu said the Nigerian leader will leave Abuja on Monday to attend a three-day Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia.

“The event, which will be held between October 23rd to 25th, will focus on exploring and expanding opportunities in security, trade and investment, science and technology, and gas production, Shehu said in a statement.

“The summit, which will be attended by African Heads of State, will bring fresh perspectives on some global issues and challenges like nuclear technology, energy development, digital transformation, environment, technical security, mining and steel, education, agriculture, infrastructure and development strategies.

“The summit, which will be attended by African Heads of State, will bring fresh perspectives on some global issues and challenges like nuclear technology, energy development, digital transformation, environment, technical security, mining and steel, education, agriculture, infrastructure and development strategies.”

Shehu said the meeting with the Russian president will “further strengthen relations in security, trade and investment, and building partnership that will enhance Nigeria’s huge gas potential, following Russia’s remarkable success in gas exportation.”

The governors in Buhari’s delegation are Muhammad Yahaya (Gombe), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).

The ministers are Geoffrey Onyeama (foreign affairs), Adeniyi Adebayo (trade and investment), Olamilekan Adegbite (mines and steel development), and Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum.

IMF supports Nigeria’s border closure —Minister

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, says the International Monetary Fund supports Nigeria’s closure of its land borders because it understands that the action is not punitive.

Addressing newsmen in Washington on Sunday, Ahmed explained that the measure was intended to restore Nigeria’s relationship with its neighbours, based on commitments made.

She said that President Muhammadu Buhari did not want to approve the closure because he was mindful of the adverse effect it would have on the economies of neighbours.

According to her, there were several engagements between Nigeria and the neighbouring countries toward securing compliance to the rules, “but things got worse”.

“Of course, there will be economic impact on the side of our neighbours due to the border closure, that is a consequence of it.

“In a manner of speaking, IMF supports the border closure that we have done because they understand that the closure was not meant to be punitive.

“It was meant for us to restore our relationship with our neighbours back to the commitments that we made.

“The commitment that we have among these countries is that goods can come through their ports to Nigeria.

“They are supposed to come in sealed containers escorted to Nigeria for the Nigeria Customs Service to inspect the goods and charge them.

“But that is not what is happening. They allow containers to be opened, and also allow goods to be smuggled beyond the formal borders through several illegal routes,’’ she fumed.

The minister reiterated that Nigeria would ensure that rules were obeyed now that it had committed itself to the African Continental Free Trade Area,“ otherwise local industries will suffer.”

She said that a lot of discussions were ongoing between Nigeria and the affected countries toward securing their re-commitment to the rules governing cross-border trade.