Airfares Rise By 100 Per Cent As Workers Shut Arik

The plight of air passengers in the country worsened yesterday as Arik Air, the largest airline in West Africa, was shut down by protesting workers.

The workers, led by the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), among others, embarked on the industrial action in protest against alleged seven-month unpaid salaries and other anti-labour issues.

The crisis in the country’s aviation sector will mount pressure on the already troubled road transport system and increase costs with serious implication on prices of goods and services during the yuletide.

Disrupted services in the air transport business will also cut into the revenue of government and regulatory agencies, which depend on operational charges to sustain oversight functions.

A retired pilot, John Ojikutu said irrespective of the cost on operators and regulators, airlines were overdue for economic auditing, to put them in check and save the country’s airspace.

The passengers that have been battling with the effects of the aviation fuel scarcity in the last one week, had their woes compounded as available aircraft were further reduced by 50 per cent due to the closure of Arik.

While other airlines like Air Peace, First Nation, Med-View, Dana Air, Overland and Azman could not take the spillover from Arik due to low capacity, about 100 per cent hike in ticket fares was noticed by Tuesday afternoon.

At the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) and Murtala Muhammed Airport II terminal, both in Lagos, for instance, an economic class ticket to Abuja that on Monday sold for between N27,500 and N32,000 was yesterday offered for N54,000. The business class equivalent of the ticket was given at N75, 800 to N80,000.

At most of the counters, however, the same flights were declared “fully booked,” with a backlog of passengers waiting due to delays which airlines blamed on “operational reasons.”

The Guardian learnt that the situation was not any different at the major airport terminals in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano as passengers waited endlessly for flights to arrive from Lagos.

It would be recalled that Arik Air and labour unions had been at loggerheads over alleged non-observance of industrial rules in the organisation, with threats to ground the airline to force compliance.

As early as 6:00 a.m. yesterday, Arik Air workers and others in solidarity, embarked on strike, shutting operations nationwide to demand the payment of outstanding salaries and observance of labour laws bordering on the welfare of workers.

Read More:

Ambrose Alli University Shut Over Violent Protest By Students

Academic activities at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in Edo State have been shut down indefinitely as a result of students protests yesterday that almost went violent as students reportedly clashed with police and soldiers.

It was gathered that the students were protesting what they termed subtle attempt by the management of the school to increase students’ school fees.

The students kicked against the policy of the current management which said 200 level students should pay the exact money they paid last session in 100 level which is against the previous system where the students pay less as they move higher.

The students refused all entreaties from the school management. They seized a truck load of rice which they reportedly set ablaze after allegedly emptying the contents.

When the entreaties failed, the management conveyed an emergency Senate meeting where the action of the students was condemned and school shut indefinitely.

A press statement signed by the institution’s Public Relations Officer, Edward Aihevbe, said the decision to close the institution indefinitely was reached after the University’ Senate reviewed the students’ protest.

He said the university’s Senate viewed the protest as uncalled for and unnecessary as management was already looking into their grievances. The students barricaded the Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi highway.

  He denied social media report that two students were shot by security agents.

He said the students were given until 4pm to vacate the institution. “No student was shot. They barricaded the highway and soldiers escorting an Army vehicle that was passing the road had to shoot into the air to scare the students away.”

Credit: leadership

Lagos government to shut 10, 427 unregistered private schools.

The Lagos State Government Wednesday disclosed that no fewer than 10,427 private schools were operating in different parts of the state without approval, warning that it would shut them if they failed to comply.

The state government also revealed that of the 15,000 private schools currently operating in the state, only 4,573 complied with the state’s school standard practice and other stipulated regulations.

The Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, disclosed this at a meeting with the Deputy Head of Regional Operations, Department for International Development (DFID), Mr. Ben Nicholson, in her office at Alausa Wednesday.

She said the state government was committed to the ongoing enumeration and registration of all private schools operating in the state, saying the exercise became imperative to standardise the operation of private schools.

Adebule explained that the purpose of enumerating and registering all private schools was “to ensure that they have government approvals and comply with the stipulated regulations and standards.”

She added that the exercise “is aimed at ensuring that all pupils have equal access to quality education irrespective of whether they attend private or public schools. Already, we are making efforts to get all private schools registered.

“That is the essence of the enumeration and registration exercise. For now, out of 15,000 private schools operating in the state, only 4,573 are duly registered and have received government approval.

“Others are operating without licenses because they do not want to conform to standard practice. Any school that does not meet government requirements after the exercise will be forced to close down.”

By implication, the deputy governor noted that about 10,427 private schools were operating without government approval, thereby representing 69.52 per cent of all private schools in the state.

At the meeting, Adebule expressed its readiness to strengthen its collaboration with the DFID in its quest to improve on the quality of education in the state, acknowledging that previous collaborations with the body has brought significant improvement to the growth of quality education in the state.

He added that the DFID’s Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) implemented in Lagos “has helped to build teachers’ capacity and helped in the upgrade of public schools infrastructure.

“Though the ESSPIN contract will expire January 2017, the state government is considering the review of the programme with a view to extending the pact because of the great value it has added to the education sector.”

She urged them to design programmes that/further expose teachers in the public service “to modern teaching techniques and build their capacity in the overall interest of raising the standard of education in the state.

“The collaboration of the DFID with the state government in the area of education has been of tremendous benefit to the state government and we hope to strengthen this working relationship so as to further promote the quality of education in our dear state.”

NLC Set To Shut Six Banks For Sacking Workers

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday threatened to shut the six banks that sacked their workers.

  The umbrella union gave the affected banks two weeks’ ultimatum to recall the sacked workers and allow unionisation.

The action has pitched the organised labour against employers of labour, with the umbrella body of the employers, the Nigeria Employers Consultative Assembly, saying the government had no right to tell banks not to sack workers.

Organised labour also threatened to picket the banks, if they did not halt the mass sack of workers, accusing them of disallowing unionisation and reneging on the principles of collective bargaining.

 NLC, in a letter to the management of the banks, which was signed by its Deputy General Secretary, Chris Uyot, said it would be forced to close the banks and their branches, if they failed to recall the affected workers.

The affected banks are: Fidelity Bank, Diamond Bank, First City Monument Bank, First Bank, Ecobank and Skye Bank.

The letter reads: “I have been directed to inform you that it has been brought to our notice by our affiliate union – the National Union of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) – that your bank is one of those that arbitrarily sacked workers recentoy, contrary to laid down procedures and the country’s extant labour laws.

“Also of concern has been that these blatant retrenchments were carried out without recourse to several correspondences, including letters and circulars sent to you by the union to retrace your steps in line with best practices in labour relations and laws of the land…”

Credit: Nation

Another 140,000 bpd Shut In As Agip, AITEO Close Operations In Bayelsa

Nigeria’s crude oil production capacity has again dropped by 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the renewed activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), a new militant group in the country’s Delta region.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported in Abuja yesterday that while the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) has shut its Bayelsa production facility which produces 65,000bpd, indigenous operator, Aiteo, which operates the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, has also stopped its 75,000bpd facility in Bayelsa.

According to the agency, earlier attacks on NAOC oilfield on May 18 and 24 resulted in the shutdown of some 5,200 barrels of its equity share of oil output.

It said a spokesperson for Agip confirmed the development in a short e-mail response to it.

“The total deferred production due to the attack is 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily,” read the e-mail sent to NAN.

It further said: “I can confirm that. There is no further impact on production, since all production from the swamp area has already been stopped days ago.”

According to crude production figures provided by the oil firm, the country is losing about $3.12 million in revenue each day its facility remains out of production.

Also, Shola Omole, spokesman for Aiteo, said the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, which conveyed crude to Bonny export terminal but came under attack by NDA on May 28, had been shut.

Omole explained that 75,000bpd of oil was deferred as the line remained out of service.

Credit: Thisday

Aviation Unions To Shut Airports Midnight Sunday

Airports across the country are to be shut down on Monday as the two leading unions in the sector yesterday threatened to shut down Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA by midnight on Sunday.

The unions, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE, in a letter dated 21st October, 2015 to their members and made available to our correspondent accused NCAA of not adhering to the condition of service with respect to promotion of workers and other welfare issues.

The letter jointly signed by Secretary General, NUATE and Secretary General NAAPE, Comrades Olayinka Abioye and Aba Ocheme threatened to shut down the agency from midnight Sunday until further notice.

The unions insisted that the withdrawal of service by the workers became paramount in order to safeguard the integrity of NCAA’s condition of service.

Credit: NationalMirror

Borders Shut Ahead Of Governorship Election

The nation’s land borders will be closed from 12 midnight on Thursday till Sunday. The order for the closure was given by the federal government on Wednesday.

The closure is to ensure a successful conduct of the April 11 governorship and state House of Assembly elections. Saturday’s elections are the last batch of the 2015 general elections.

Read More: Vanguard

Sambo, Patience Jonathan’s Offices Shut

Apparently yet to recover from the shock of the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan, staff in the offices of Vice President Namadi Sambo and the First Lady, Patience Jonathan failed to show up in their offices on Wednesday.

Both offices were under lock and key. Despite the fact that the President summon courage to come to office, many of his aides were nowhere to be found at the Villa. Many ministers also failed to show up at the Villa. Their absence stalled the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Read More: DailyTrust

All Borders Shut Ahead Of Elections- FG

Nigeria has announced the closure of all land and sea borders ahead of Saturday’s presidential elections, the Interior Ministry announced Wednesday. All borders will effectively be closed from midnight March 25, to midnight Saturday, March 28, the ministry said in a statement.

The release, signed by the permanent secretary, Abubakar Magaji, said the borders would be closed “to allow for the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming national elections”.

It also said the Nigeria Immigration Service has been directed to ensure that non-Nigerians do not participate in any part of the election process.