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NCAA moves to tackle airline operators over ticket refund complaints

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The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority has met with travel agents and airline operators to find a lasting solution to issues of flight disruptions, and ticket refund complaints, among others.

The aviation stakeholders, who met at the NCAA office at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos, discussed issues affecting the sector and agreed on possible solutions.

At the meeting, the Director, Air Transport, NCAA, Mrs Olayinka Babaoye, told the stakeholders that the meeting became necessary due to rising issues of flight disruptions and passenger complaints.

Babaoye said that it was paramount to strike a balance between the causes of flight disruptions and how messages were related to passengers.

She further added that it would help the agency to get the sides of the airlines, passengers and travel agents to agree on the way forward.

She said, “It is good to hear from both sides because we have called the airline on several occasions, both foreign and domestic airlines.

“To discuss the issue that we keep getting from passengers on disruption, on how cancellations and delays are being handled.

“And I know we worked very closely with NANTA because we were trying to make sure that passengers come first. But at the same time, it is also to balance between the passenger, the airline, and the country as a whole.”

Also speaking at the meeting, Director, Public Affairs/Consumer Protection, NCAA, Micheal Achimugu, said that the government through the agency was ready to dish out sanctions where necessary.

He said, “Both local and international airlines should henceforth be cautious as the hammer could hit any operator, citing the case with the Turkish Airlines and NUATE saga.

“There is an absolute need to eradicate the touts at the airport. NANTA members, who are certified by the NCAA must be properly identified.

“Most of the aftermath of disruptions at the airport are constituted by these touts,” he said.

A travel agent, Adeola Folami, urged for more engagements such as meetings of this kind as the same will help nip many issues in the bud.

He also noted that there should be a balance between the International Airport Transport Association’s exchange rate for ticket sales and other exchange rates, adding that failure to do so could affect the industry negatively.

Some other agents also said that email notifications were not promptly sent out by airlines, stating that agents stopped inputting personal data of passengers in purchasing tickets because the airlines have been caught sending promotional emails and discounted tickets.

Another agent, MaryAnn Onuoha said that IATA had become a government in Nigeria, as they tend to change ROE daily.

The travel agents complained strongly about the refund policy by airlines which took passengers and agents too long or never to retrieve their funds.

Responding, the Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection of the agency stressed that all issues would be attended to by the NCAA Act.

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Afreximbank, First Bank sign $200m facility agreement to finance clients’ needs

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Afreximbank and First Bank of Nigeria(FBN) have signed a 200 million dollar facility agreement for financing the needs of FBN’s numerous clients.

The signing took place at the ongoing 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM2024) in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Friday.

The facility will finance the needs of FBN’s numerous clients engaged in oil and gas and energy, manufacturing, telecommunications and associated infrastructure projects.

The parties who signed the agreement included Olusegun Alebiosu, Acting CEO, FBN, Awani Kanayo, Executive Vice- President, Intra-African Trade Bank (IATB), Afreximbank, and Viswanathan Shankar, CEO, Gateway Partners on behalf of African Credit Opportunity Fund.

The 31 AAM2024 is being held in Nassau, The Bahamas from June 12 to June 15, with the theme: “Owning our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa’’.

The AAM is taking place alongside the 3rd edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024).

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Shettima seeks public-private partnership to drive economic growth

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Vice-President Kashim Shettima has called for a more robust collaboration between the government and business leaders to propel Nigeria’s economic aspirations.

The spokesperson of the Vice-President, Mr Stanley Nkwocha in a statement on Friday, said Shettima made the remark at the Heirs Holdings Group Directors’ Annual Dinner, held in Abuja.

According to the Vice President, open dialogue, shared insights, and collaborative work between the public and private sectors are necessary tools to develop solutions tailored towards Nigeria’s unique realities.

He called for synergy between the political class and economic stakeholders, emphasising that the two spheres are not opposites but complementary forces vital for national stability and progress.

” Politics is too important to be left to the politicians and enterprises that define our economic destination are too important to be left to the businessmen alone to develop.”

The Vice-President urged conglomerates to serve as pipelines for the administration’s practical economic vision, departing from cosmetic reforms of the past.

“Collaboration between the public and private sectors is the ingredients of a thriving economy.

” We must engage in open dialogue and share insights and work together to crop solutions that are peculiar to our realities.

” Whether it is tackling unemployment, reducing poverty, or enhancing education and healthcare, our partnership must aspire to drive sustainable development and create a safe future for all Nigerians.

” Our bragging right will not be about having the most unicorns on the continent but also about our entrepreneurial standing with global comparisons,” he said.

Shettima, who commended the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Group, Tony Elumelu for his achievements, described him as an “enigma and a banking colossus whose entrepreneurial exploits have carved a niche in Africa’s economic landscape.”

He also lauded the Heirs Holdings chairman’s visionary leadership and commitment to empowering young African entrepreneurs.

“Tony Elumelu belongs to the class of wealthy men because he generates wealth and opportunities and is a harbinger of great tidings to the Nigerian people.

” For the dreams you have relegated to help build our nation, we offer our deepest gratitude and a promise to continue playing our part to enable the ease of doing business.”

Earlier, Elumelu, reaffirmed the group’s unwavering commitment to the philosophy of Africapitalism and empowering young entrepreneurs across the continent.

Elumelu, whose business empire spans 24 countries, noted that the annual gathering serves as a platform to review achievements, business practices, and learn from the experiences of over 100 board members.

“Today, we started our Annual General Meeting, and it will continue until Saturday.

” Sessions like this afford us the opportunity to reflect on everything we have done within the year, look at things we should have done better, learn from our past mistakes, and re-strategize on how to accomplish our purpose,” he said

Elumelu added that, at the core of Heirs Holdings’ ethos, was the belief that the private sector must play a leading role in Africa’s development, a philosophy he described as “Africapitalism.”

He stressed the group’s focus on human impact, citing the empowerment of 20,000 young African entrepreneurs with non-refundable seed capital of 5,000 dollars each as their most significant recent achievement.

Elumelu expressed confidence that the collective efforts of the holdings and other business groups would contribute to transforming the African continent and uplifting the black race globally.

The Founding Trustee of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairperson of Avon Healthcare Ltd, Dr Awele Elumelu, described Vice-President Shettima as an exemplary leader committed to public service and nation-building.

” In Heirs Holdings Group, one of our core values is excellence, and our guest speaker embodies excellence,” she said, adding that the group felt honoured by VP Shettima’s presence.”

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Nigeria requests $500m World Bank loan to repair rural roads, combat rising food prices

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The federal government of Nigerian is requesting a $500 million loan from the World Bank to repair rural roads, enhance agricultural product access, and combat rising food prices.

The World Bank stated that this loan will benefit 92 million rural residents who lack adequate road infrastructure.

This funding request is part of the final draft of the Resettlement Policy Framework for the Nigeria Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project Scale-Up, managed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The RAAMP-SU project will allocate funds to three main areas including, $387 million for resilient rural access, $158 million for climate-resilient asset management, and $55 million for institutional strengthening and project management.

The project’s total cost is estimated at $600 million, with the World Bank expected to cover 83.33% of the funding. This represents a 79% increase from the initial $280 million commitment for the original project.

According to the policy document, participating states must establish fully operational Roads Funds and Roads Agencies with appointed boards and staff, and allocate administrative costs in their budgets.

The document read, “Rural access is particularly restricted in areas densely populated by the economically disadvantaged. These factorst underscore the imperative to expand and enhance the rural road network, as well as conserve rural road and transport assets.

“While eligibility for state participation under RAAMP required the drafting and placement of Road Fund and Roads Agency bills in the State Houses of Assembly, the new project would require the States to have a fully functional Roads Fund and Roads Agency with appointed boards and staff, and provision for administrative costs made in the state budget. Additionally, RARAs offer an opportunity to foster women’s representation in the transport sector.”

This initiative comes as Nigeria faces rising food inflation, which according to the National Bureau of Statistics, reached 40.53% in April 2024. Experts attribute this to insecurity, high energy costs, and transportation expenses

Report according to the Debt Management Office, however has it that, as of the end of 2023, Nigeria’s total debt was N97.341 trillion, with debt at N38.22 trillion, accounting for 39% of the total debt.

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