The Federal Government (FG) has revealed plans to inject funds for the upgrade of airports across the country. Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika made this known during the opening of the Legend Hotel Lagos Airport Curio Collection by Hilton, at Lagos Airport.
While announcing that A380 aircraft would arrive in Nigeria in few months time, Sirika said the Federal Government would also go ahead with the concession of major international airports in the country.
Sirika said “The federal government would spend a huge sum of money in improving infrastructure at the airports, especially the mortal Muhammad airport in Lagos. i will like to say that within a few months, in the first quarter of next year, a380 aircraft would be landing in Nigeria. We have facilities to receive such an aero plane.
“This year before the end of this October, we would be opening the terminal in Port Harcourt which is ready even to the apron operations. We will also be opening the terminal in Abuja. They would be ready for operations.”
Sirika noted that the country had huge potential in aviation waiting to be harnessed, owing to its population.
Despite the call on Federal Government to upgrade its airports and concession, the country’s airports last year recorded high traffic of passengers.
A report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), shows that 13,394,945 passengers travelled through Nigerian airports in 2017. This comprised of 6,693,687 at arrivals and 6,701,258 at departures. The figure was an 8.03% decline from 2016, mainly due to the six-week closure of Abuja airport in March 2017.
2017 Q4 saw steady growth in the number of both domestic and international passengers travelling to or from Nigerian airports, by 6.46% and 1.01% respectively.
For the first time in the year, more arrivals were recorded than departures for both domestic and international travellers in 2017 Q4. Arrivals and departures in the reviewing quarter were 1,864,906 and 1,308,959 respectively
The Federal Government has approved the purchase of patrol vessels to enhance security on Nigerian waterways.
It said the vessels, which were specifically approved for the Federal Department of Fisheries, would be used to curb illegal fishing on Nigeria’s territorial waters.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the purchase of the vessels in order to boost search and rescue operations of relevant agencies, as well as prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Osinbajo disclosed this in Abuja on Friday at the 10th Ministerial Conference of the Fisheries Committee for West, Central Gulf of Guinea.
He also said that the vessels would be managed in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, adding that efforts by the government in reducing the importation of fish into Nigeria were yielding positive results.
The vice-president said that in the last two years, domestic fish production had increased from 450,000 metric tonnes to 1.1 million MT.
He told participants at the conference that opportunities abound in the Nigerian aquaculture industry given the size of the domestic market and Nigeria’s status as a gateway to West Africa.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the conference, James Kollie, urged participants to explore opportunities that would ensure adequate fishery resources in the region.
Stakeholders in the concession of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, along Lagos/Badagry Expressway, have kicked against the Federal Government’s decision to terminate the agreement.
Alice won the trade fair complex concession in 2008.
Opinions are divided about the revocation because traders who the shopping malls/plazas comprising Balogun Business Association (BBA), ASPAMDA and APT are somewhat happy that the revocation did not affect them while those under the control of Aulic, the concessionaire, are crying foul.
The concessionaire, Aulic, has pointedly accused the federal government of breach of an extant court order on the matter.
Speaking on behalf of Aulic Nigeria Limited, its legal counsel, Mr. Dan Udeh said the revocation order was a farce as the matter was still pending before the court. “We will do everything within the law to ensure that we get justice since the matter is still in court. We want to believe that the federal government acted out of ignorance and this is what we will prove before the court,” he said.
“The purported cancellation of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex Concession cannot be true and valid. There is a subsisting preservative order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/382/13 of November 18, 2014 directing the NCP, Bureau of Public Enterprise, Lagos International Trade Fair Complex Management Board, Attorney-General of the Federation and others to maintain status quo.
The matter is still pending before the court.”
He stated that by that action, the federal government has fired the first bullet of a pending war against Ndigbo, and added that the concessionaire would be taking the matter to the International Court of Commerce, where he hopes to get justice.
National president of Igbo Youth Congress, Mr. Jerry Ugwu, has said that the revocation of the Lagos Trade Fair Complex concession to Aulic Nigeria Limited by the federal government amounts to disobedience of court order.
Also speaking on the matter, Ezeigbo of Ojo, Pat Eneh, said it was another move to completely annihilate the Igbo.
“We will not fold our hands and allow this kind of thing to happen because the federal government is aware that the case is in court. There is a substantive order in court and government cannot say it was not aware of it. They acted in ignorance and nobody is above the law. I know this it is happening because the concessionaire is an Igbo man.
“This is another strategy to sabotage and annihilate the Igbo. They said we can’t have Biafra and now, they want to destroy our means of livelihood.”
On his part, Chairman of BBA Board of Trustees, Trade Fair Complex, Okey Ezeibe, said the revocation did not affect traders in Balogun and the order affected only the areas that belong to the Aulic Nigeria Limited.
Speaking further, he maintained that it was necessary to state the fact immediately, to avoid undue sympathy, intimidation or panic by their members.
Asked whether this is not a subtle move by the federal government to take over the entire place, he replied: “It is not possible. We got there on lease, ahead of Aulic, and, we pay our dues regularly, in advance.
“The federal government cannot revoke our portion since we have not breached the agreement and understanding.”
In his contribution, President of BBA Shopping Mall at the Trade Fair, Alex Obi-Odunukwe admonished members of the mall to “be calm” and go about their normal business “without any fear”. Obi-Odunukwe added that they enjoy mutual relationship with the federal government and Trade Fair Management Board.
In the same vein, President of Association of Progressive Traders (APT), Dr. Jude Ringo Okeke said the revocation order did not affect them as they were not in breach of any agreement with the federal government.
Efforts to get the opinion of the President of Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association (ASPAMDA), Mr. Ofokansi were unsuccessful as he did not pick his calls.
The Ministry of Mines and steel Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bank of Industry (BOI) for the management of a N5 billion fund in support of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners in the country.
Under the arrangement, the Ministry would contribute N2.5billion which would be matched by another N2.5 billion by BOI.
A certified Artisanal Scale miner, under the scheme, can access between One hundred thousand naira and ten million naira; while a Small Scale Miner can access between ten million naira and one hundred million naira.
The MOU was signed by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi and the Managing Director/CEO of Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan, in Abuja on Tuesday. The event was witnessed by the
Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mohammed Abass and Chair of the board of the Solid Minerals Development Fund, Alhaji Uba Saida Malami.
Speaking at the event, Dr Fayemi said the development is aimed at addressing the issue of insufficient funding and access to capital, which is a major factor militating against Artisanal and Small Scale miners who account for about 80 per cent of activities in the mining sector.
According to the Minister, the Bank of Industry would serve as the custodian and manager of the fund, which would be given to the artisanal and small scale miners at five per cent interest.
Dr Fayemi said: “This agreement is a meeting of minds between the FMMSD and the BOI. We are in the first instance launching a N5Billion fund. With our ministry’s pilot contribution of N2.5Billion, BOI will match our contribution with another N2.5Billion.
“Consequently, with this agreement, the FMMSD appoints BOI as the Custodian and Manager of the Nigerian Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASM) Financing Support Fund, for the purpose of financing artisanal and small scale mining projects involving Industrial Minerals, Precious Stones, Precious Metal (Gold), Dimension Stone and such other strategic minerals in Nigeria as shall be approved by the ministry and BOI from time to time.”
The Minister said that the fund would be available in the form of Term Loans or Working Capital to be utilized for the Purchase of requisite items of plant and machinery; Payment for drilling, geological and other services related to mining business as may be required, among others.
He added that proper funding would help to integrate the Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners into the formal sector, enhance their growth and development in a structured manner, and spur productivity and job creation in the mining sector.
Speaking further, the Minister said, “The single obligor limit of loans to be granted under the Fund shall be from N100,000.00 to N10,000,000.00 for Artisanal Scale Miners; and from N10,000,000.00 to N100,000,000.00 for Small Scale Miners.
“The loans would be made available to certified industry participants at a single digit interest rate of 5% per annum, which is by far about the most attractive within our jurisdiction.
“In addressing the challenge of Insufficient Funding and lack of access to capital, the ministry secured approval for N30bn (approx. $100m) from the mining sector component of the Natural Resources Development Fund from the FGN. We also secured the World Bank’s approval for $150 million to support the ministry’s Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) program.
“The Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF) is now spearheading the assembling of a $600M investment fund for the sector, working with entities such as the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigeria Stock Exchange and others. This is a departure from the past, judging by the fact that in 2015, out of the meagre N1 billion allocated to the ministry, only N352 million was released.
“It is noteworthy that in addition to funding support from multilateral agencies, partnerships on technical cooperation have also been brokered or re-activated with several foreign governments. Existing technical partnerships have been operationalised with the governments of South Africa, China, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Nigeria now takes the lead in regional efforts to develop mining, especially within the framework of the Africa Mining Vision”
The CEO of Bank of Industry, Pitan in his response said the Bank was convinced that the fund would step up a rapid development in the mining sector, just as a similar funding arrangement administered by the BOI boosted the country’s movie sector.
He said BOI is a pioneer in the area of funding mining activities where other banks are reluctant to invest while made it clear that the Fund is not an aid, but repayable by beneficiaries.
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari, would head the Project Management Committee which includes BOI
officials with expertise in Mining Finance and Project Supervision. The committee is charged with the responsibility of appraising, recommending, disbursing, implementing and monitoring the projects as well as recovering the loans and interests from the approved projects.