BDCs: Banks can’t be trusted, will hoard dollars, says Mailafia - PUNCH
BY Kayode Oyero
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, says commercial banks in the country cannot be trusted with forex sales, adding that they will “corner” the dollars and only release whatever that is left after satisfying their interest.
He spoke on Wednesday while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday, said Bureau de Change Operators in the country are greedy and make abnormal profit from forex sales.
Emefiele also announced the discontinuation of and new licence approval after the Monetary Policy Committee two-day meeting in Abuja.
The CBN had been supplying each licensed BDCs $20,000 per week at the rate of N393 with the instruction that they should sell with a margin of N2 but some of them sell as high as N505, making over N100 on every dollar sold.
According to Emefiele, BDC operators in the country continue to abuse the privilege, hence, the need to stop forex sales to them.
The CBN governor said commercial banks would be monitored to provide forex for the legitimate use of Nigerians.
But Mailafia said commercial banks cannot be trusted and would sell the dollar at any rate they wish.
“How can you totally trust these commercial banks because most of them will want to corner the dollar for themselves and whatever is left, then they can now share with the market at a rate they want?” he queried on PUNCH Roundtable.
The former deputy governor of the apex bank also said, “On the naira, it is not just the underlying economic fundamentals that matters like interest rate, inflation and so on, these things matter and the level of debt affect it but there are the non-quantifiable elements like violence, instability, rural banditry and terrorism, those things undermine the productive capacity of the economy. They also destroy social capital, the trust that holds the community together to do businesses together.
“If we are not careful, that decision will actually worsen the naira value because the BDCs, you could walk into any of them anywhere and within five minutes, they will attend to you but the banks, you have to drive to your nearest bank, you have to queue most of the time.
“The CBN has not told us the rate, the banks will want to make a profit over the official rate, we don’t know whether they will make a decent profit or they will profiteer. Bankers were the biggest experts in round-tripping. Old habits, I don’t think they change. Leopards are very unlikely to change their spots.
“So, we may end up in a scenario where there is scarcity and the simple economics of demand and supply tells you that where there is increase scarcity, price is likely to shoot up.
“If bank bureaucracy makes it difficult for people to access dollar, what it means is that the bureaucracies, obstacles and bottlenecks are likely to put pressure on supply and pressure on supply may mean an increase in demand for the dollar and greater fall of the naira, if we don’t play the cards well.”
‘Nigerian airlines are not over-regulated’ - THE NATION
Recent developments in the aviation sector such as compliance of airlines has put the industry under focus. Increasingly, experts are calling on the regulator to step up its duties to improve the nation’s safety ratings. In this interview with KELVIN OSA-OKUNBOR, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, the Chairman, West Link Airlines and owner of Mish Aviation, a private aviation training school in Ghana sheds light on the interventions needed raise the stakes of aviation.
Do you think the aviation industry is over regulated, especially given what has transpired recently?
Aviation cannot be over regulated because it has a process. It is one of the most regulated industries in the world. But it is also the normal thing. So, any aviator would readily acknowledge it is the most regulated. But to say over-regulated, I don’t think this is correct. Yes, there is over zealousness in some cases by individuals but the regulation is very clear. Before it is made, it is proposed to stakeholders, amendments are made, our voices are taken into account and then the regulation comes out.
What about the regulatory regime?
Even though the regulation needs more of our voices because when they were passed into law, there were some complaints of insufficient time given for contributions, but then it was due to an upcoming external audit or so I gathered. But aviation needs to be regulated the way it is, but whether there are lacuna here and there obviously there are is another thing.
Quite frankly, there is a Nigerian factor in almost everything we do, so we don’t say that is NCAA even, we, the operators, too, there are Nigerian factors in our attitude, but as far as safety is concerned, we would never have made the FAA category 1, if we are not doing things right.
What about the last incident with Azman? What do you think went wrong, if anything?
NCAA needs to take a knock for that, particularly those things that are meant to be comprehension issues. There is always a yardstick before you become a pilot – you have to be age 17, minimum. If you go to some schools they’d say you have to have English and Mathematics minimum, my school adopted the same and the reason is simply because flying is a science and when you know Mathematics and English, you’d be able to comprehend the teachings of aviation and aerodynamics and co. So, it makes it easier when you have that background. It’s like a foundation, but it does not also necessarily mean that you cannot achieve the same result doing it differently.
What could the NCAA have done differently ?
So, what NCAA has done in that case where they need to get a knock is because, they were complacent in certifying the key post holders, you must have post holders that are qualified and if you have a key post holders, who is supposed to be at the helm, he must comply with certain minimum standards just as ICAO says for the NCAA man to inspect you and we hammer on that, we insist that the NCAA must make sure that whoever they send to inspect must have qualifications equivalent to those they are coming to inspect or above.
Are there gaps in the system?
Now, it looks like there are lapses on their side and so they allowed lapses on the other side. To be an accountable manager or a key post holder, you have to be qualified; even go through an interview; even that interview must be in the English he understands. The duty of an Accountable manager is simplified but actually difficult as he must understand the workings and what he is expected to do with this your company. The answer is yes, they tick it, but do you really understand? There will be maintenance issues coming up, for the tyre issue.
Has the policy of banning aircraft that are over 22 years from operating in Nigeria helped develop this industry?
First of all, I am not aware of any country, including Nigeria, that based airworthiness of aircraft on age. Once the aircraft can meet the requirements for Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A), it is issued to that aircraft and owner, the certificate signifying that the aircraft is safe to fly.
It’s not scientifically correct to restrict importation on age and we have said this times without number. A professional colleague is a minister, we hope these are some of the things he will reverse before he leaves. The initial 22 years’ban were best left as politically motivated for reasons that no longer exists, so why is it still there? To give a 22-year life sentence for registration is premature. I call on the Federal Government to, please, remove that from the laws so NCAA can do their job. That’s for NCAA actually to determine and not the ministry and or the National Assembly.The 22-year ban was done during the tenure of Mrs Kema Chikwe as minister and the National Assembly of that time. Haba! It’s encouraged that laws be revised every 10 years. It’s been over 20 years and nobody seems to be making any efforts to delete this very bad anti-development law. A plane only flies when a properly trained and certified pilot is on it flying it. For a serviceable aircraft and a qualified pilot to fly, they also need a third approval to do so: It is either it is flown for commercial purposes or private use. Both require prior permits or licences before you can operate the plane(s). So, an aircraft is not like a car that you have road worthiness and drivers’ licence, then start your car and start moving!! No!, cars and planes are different kettles of fish.
What about the effect on private aircraft?
For private use, you are not subjected to rigorous procedures for maintenance and operation as the commercial where Air Operator Certificate (AOC) is required. In essence, NCAA is there to ensure passengers who pay are served safely and in accordance with approved demonstrated ability and quality. So, it’s a high risk and illegal to fly passengers for reward or payment when you are not certified. In case of accident in such cases, even the insurance will smile away because commercial passengers are only insured on airplanes operated by approved AOC holders.
Is age important when it comes to safety of aircraft operations?
Age is not a factor of serviceability. Yes, ageing aircraft programme can be more expensive, but not out of scope for operators to comply. Again, aircraft are designed to last based on material test and capabilities of air frames among other things. A non-pressurised air frame will have to be damaged or corroded before it becomes a concern for safety. The pressurised air frame, however, is designed based on tested design circles. Each time you take off and land with a pressuring air frame, you add stress to cabin as you pressurise and wings when you land. The manufacturer counts each flight (take-off and landing) as a cycle.
What about the life cycles for aircraft?
Now, some manufacturers can design air frames to go up to 60,000 cycles or more. Let’s look at a typical Nigerian airline which does an average four flights with one particular aircraft per day and Monday to Friday as weekends are usually used for maintenance and light schedule. So, we will add per cent at the end to compensate for the weekends). Four flights a day at five days per week in 52 weeks of the year will be 1,040 cycles. So, if we divide, base on say an assumed first lifespan cycle of 30,000 cycles,1,040 annual circles will be 28 years. And mind you, this can also go through a D check and be renewed again for whatever the test determines or even another 30,000 cycles etc. Don’t forget too that no plane can fly continuously back-to-back for 28 years; they will probably fly average of eight to 10 months in a year. Take an average of nine months. That should extend the first life by 28 by further three month yearly, which is additional seven years. Thus the first circle for that aircraft before overhaul will be 35 years minimum. Twenty-two years, therefore, is a far cry!!.
When do you think an aircraft is no longer serviceable?
When the manufacturer’s circles are reached and material failures cannot be guaranteed and, therefore, aircraft is unable to pass certain laid down ageing programme maintenance checks and fail to pass a C or A inspection. Then that aircraft is scrapped. Or if the owner feels like he does not want the plane anymore and scraps it. There are too many technicalities that should not be politicised. Those who take decisions don’t know and, therefore, rely on consultants. There are so many armchair “consultants” these days. A real professional will wait to be invited. Those in office should be weary of those who throw themselves at them, claiming to be experts under all sorts of names. Otherwise we will never discard some of these obnoxious rules that hinder General Aviation (GA) growth. When GA grows, everything grows!!!
Can you explain the maintenance cycle of an aircraft and if any check from A-D compensates for the aircraft hull?
The opening question has the details. Maintenance is not based on age, but hours or circles.These hours or circles take 100 years, depending on utilisation. If you are allowed say 30,000 circles as explained, the circles cannot be back-to-back and day to day. Thirty thousand circles, even when flown back-to-back, if it were possible, will occur in 28 years plus. or as late as 100 years in low utilisation. So, you see how that ban was insensitive to scientific reality. I don’t even like talking about it quite frankly. It’s a standard one would expect an FAA CAT1 country not to take at all. An accident obviously retires aircraft if the level of damage is serious like C level or bad B level damage.
How does this industry think it can develop when the financial capacity to sustain this is not available?
Well, the only way is to start general aviation, ease the process and allow more competition. That’s the most civil solution. If I have an airline flying for less, I will choose that cheaper one. But when there seems to be a gang up between the few available, then they can do what they want. You also cannot stop them. It’s a matter of choice and when a provider chooses to exploit or take advantage, then the client can choose the alternatives or cancel. More airlines are coming on stream, this will mitigate this problem. In defence of the airlines, there are many factors that affect ticket pricing in Nigeria. Aviation does not enjoy oil money anymore.
What about aviation agencies ?
The agencies have to employ people above what they need because there is pressure from all over. They also have to generate revenue to pay the staff, develop infrastructure and maintain them. Not only that, they have to contribute to the Federation Account some 25 per cent of income or so. I am not sure of the figure but I think 25 per cent or so. Airlines are faced sometimes with fuel price increase like every other day. More labour force at the agencies because they are forced to employ everyone and must pay salary and sustain them at work. How can they do these without taxing the airlines heavily? I feel those who advised the government to remove the Aviation ministry from Federal subvention should go back and re-jig the ideas and re- advise government to amend the decision.
Even funding the salaries from the subvention will ease the agencies and cause a huge relief from the burden. Ideally, the number of staff are just way more than required but because we must give employment to citizens, by all means, why not? But we must also try not to over milk the cow because we may soon end up without any. It’s the government’s responsibility to provide all sorts of security, including jobs. Let them pay them directly while the agencies use them. Also, inconsistent fuel pricing, airlines paying duty for spare parts on waivers. As I speak, I still pay duty for all parts I import to service our aircraft. I don’t even know if there is anything we produce locally that we use to operate our aircraft these days besides just catering. Depending on imports for everything and yet-duty waivers granted are still being collected from operators is part of what’s making the citizens and travellers pay more. Operators have to recover their investments. They are encouraged by same system to also recover their costs.The government, therefore, holds the final say on these.
UAE Opens 10-Year ‘Golden Visa’ Scheme to All Resident Doctors - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- The United Arab Emirates will allow all resident doctors to apply for so-called “golden visas,” a 10-year permit covering specialized sectors including science, innovation and health care.
Doctors licensed by UAE health regulators can apply before September 2022, state-run news agency WAM reported Wednesday.
The long-term visa allows foreigners to work, live and study without needing an Emirati sponsor. Expat residents make up nearly 90% of the UAE population but many left as the pandemic eliminated some employment opportunities.
COVID-19: Nigeria’s cases surge again, as infections contract in Lagos - THE GUARDIAN
Nigeria’s latest surge in coronavirus infections gathered pace on Wednesday with new confirmed cases rising above 500 for the first time in four months following the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) figures on Thursday morning, showed another 535 cases were reported on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 535 is the highest daily number, which is now the biggest daily increase in the country since March 4, 2021, when 708 cases were registered.
After months of low recorded numbers, the country’s infections has been on the rise in the past two weeks shortly after the discovery of the 10 Delta variant, first identified in India and is considered by government scientists to be between 60 per cent and 80 per cent more transmissible than the previous dominant strain.
The NCDC noted that the additional 535 cases registered was an increase in the previous high figure of 404, which was reported on July 27 as the highest daily record in four months.
The Public Health Agency said that the Infection rates have largely been concentrated in Lagos state, which is the country’s epicenter.
It added that Lagos again recorded the highest number on Wednesday’s infection tally.
It stated that the country’s epicenter of the virus recorded 219 out of the 535 daily total, representing a decline from its previous high figures of 356, followed by Akwa-Ibom state with 142 new cases and Oyo with 47.
Amongst others were; Rivers state with 17 reported cases, Jigawa and Edo 13 each, Ekiti and Bayelsa 11 each, Ondo -10, Osun-9, Plateau-8, Ogun and Kaduna 7 each, Kano and the FCT 5 each, while Gombe and Nasarawa reported 4 and 3 respectively.
The agency regrettably recorded five additional COVID-19 related death on Wednesday, keeping the death toll at 2,139 in the country.
The Public Health Institute said that 49 people have recovered and were discharged from various isolation centres in the country on Wednesday.
The agency added that 164,886 recoveries have been recorded nationwide.
It added that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 2, continues to coordinate the national response activities.
It noted that the country has also tested more than 2.4 million samples for the virus out the country’s roughly 200 million population.
The NCDC said that the country’s active cases stood at over 4,000, and the country’s total infections rose to 172,263 as at July 28. 2021.
New Jersey Forgoes Indoor Mask Mandate for ‘Strong Recommendation’ - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Governor Phil Murphy urged New Jerseyans to mask indoors when Covid-19 transmission risk is increased but stopped short of issuing a mask mandate.
The decision comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its indoor mask policy on Tuesday for vaccinated people in a bid to stem a surge of cases linked to the contagious delta variant.
“Our metrics are trending in the wrong direction, and new data suggests the delta variant is more transmissible even among vaccinated individuals, which is why we are making this strong recommendation,” the governor and state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a joint statement.
Across New Jersey, hospitalizations have increased 55% since the start of the month, to 473 on July 27, according to state data. The transmission rate, which measures how many people are infected by a virus-positive individual, is 1.5, the highest since the pandemic’s initial New Jersey peak, and greater than the second wave linked to late-year holiday gatherings.
“Our metrics are trending in the wrong direction, and new data suggests the Delta variant is more transmissible even among vaccinated individuals, which is why we are making this strong recommendation,” according to the statement.
In lieu of a mandatory requirement, Murphy urged “personal responsibility” to “mask up indoors when prudent.”
Dubai’s Emirates extends suspension of flights to South Africa and Nigeria - GULF BUSINESS
Regular services between Dubai and South Africa and Nigeria will remain suspended until August 7, 2021
Dubai-based carrier Emirates has confirmed that its services between the UAE and South Africa and Nigeria will remain suspended until August 7, 2021,
It said that the decision is in line with government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa and Nigeria into the UAE.
Only one daily passenger flight to Johannesburg will operate as EK763; however, outbound passenger services on EK764 remain suspended.
The airline added that customers who have been to or connected through South Africa or Nigeria in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai.
As is the case with South Africa and Nigeria, Emirates has also said that India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to Dubai until August 7, 2021. However, UAE Nationals, holders of UAE golden visas, members of diplomatic missions and holders of UAE Visa with Expo 2020 as a sponsor who comply with updated Covid-19 protocols, are exempt and may be accepted for travel.
Emirates said that its contact centres are experiencing “a greater volume of calls than anticipated.”
It urged passengers to reconsider calling back if their call is not related to travel within the following 48 hours.
It said that if a flight has been cancelled or impacted by route suspensions due to Covid 19 restrictions, passengers need not call the airline immediately for rebooking. Once the flights to that specific destination resume, they can contact the airline to reschedule their flight.
Disney to Require Masks Again at Florida, California Parks - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co. is requiring masks again at its theme parks in Florida and California, a response to surging cases of the new delta variant.
Disney joins other companies reinstating mask mandates, including Apple Inc., which will require them at most of its U.S. stores for both customers and staff.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance this week to recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with rising cases levels.
Disney, the world’s largest theme-park operator, reopened its Florida resorts last year and its California parks in April. It and other resort operators lifted mask requirements for vaccinated guests at the start of the summer as inoculations rose nationally.
Now, all visitors aged 2 and up will be required to wear masks in all indoor locations at the parks starting Friday, regardless of vaccination status, Disney said in an emailed statement.
The move comes as the resurgent coronavirus and return of mask recommendations hamper corporate America’s plans to get back to normalcy.
Google on Wednesday said that it will push back its official office return to mid-October and require workers at its campuses to get vaccinated. Lyft Inc. postponed its return date to February, while Twitter Inc. shut its recently reopened offices.
(Adds further comment from statement in fifth paragraph)
Most S. Africans Don’t Want Covid Shot, Many Rely on Prayer - BLOOMBERG
About 54% of South Africans say they are unlikely to get a Covid-19 vaccine and almost half say they believe prayer provides more protection than the shots against contracting the disease, a survey showed.
The Afrobarometer survey of 1,600 South Africans highlights a hurdle for the government’s drive to inoculate two thirds of its 60 million people in a bid curb infections in the country, which is Africa’s worst hit by the disease, according to official statistics.
Hesitancy is highest among those below the age of 35 and among the poor, according to the survey. Just 28% of those surveyed trust the government to ensure vaccines are safe.
The survey, conducted in May and June, has a 2.5 percentage point margin of error, Afrobarometer said on Wednesday.
South Africa has recorded more than 2.4 million coronavirus infections and almost 71,000 deaths. While over 7 million vaccine doses have been administered in the country just 2.69 million people are fully vaccinated.
(Adds mistrust of government in third paragraph)
Nigeria’s Aviation Battling Oppressive Forces – Airline Owner - DAILY TRUST
Chairman of Westlink Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, has declared that the Aviation industry in Nigeria is battling too many oppressive forces.
The forces, he said, “are manmade and natural,” adding, “The natural is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated, not only the Aviation sector nay Nigeria alone.”
He spoke in Lagos during the 25th Annual Conference and Awards organized by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) with the theme, “Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Management, Policy and Regulation”.
This is just as the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, declared that the industry is still facing financial distress.
He said it would take the next two years for the industry to recover from the effects of Covid-19 pandemic.
Mshelia, who was chairman of the occasion, stressed the need for the regulatory authority to rethink the processes and procedures, especially the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) process.
The AOC is the approval granted by a nation’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), to qualified aircraft operator(s), so it can use the aircraft for commercial purposes.
He decried what he called the lopsidedness in the procurement procedures and the operational limits of AOC holders in Nigeria, saying, “there is an urgent need to amend our act and policy in this area, to empower the civil aviation to also break down the certification process of our commercial operations.”
“The word AOC has been so over-valued like a village masquerade that appears once in five years. This is not supposed to be so. Operations specifications, in this regard, is the masquerade and not the certificate. I believe the speakers here today, and even the DG, NCAA will agree with me in their subsequent comments,” he said.
According to him, “By ICAO standard, small, large and medium operations, including; Air Taxi, Air Charter, Cargo Only, nonscheduled and Scheduled operations etc, are recognised.”
The FAAN MD reiterated that without ample financial resources, it would be difficult for the industry to recover.
He called for aggressive implementation of policies, saying while the industry is performing well in terms of Regulation, implementation remains an issue.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, stressed that aviation is key to the socioeconomic development of the country and advocated “consistent palliatives” to keep the industry afloat.
He added that every stakeholder must work very hard to ensure the industry is safe and secure.
He said the six aviation Bills before the National Assembly would soon be passed.
Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema lauded the Federal Government for putting in place policies that would create an enabling environment for the airlines to survive.
He however advised airlines not to engage in “devilish competition”, saying, “We can compete in a very good way. Competition brings about efficiency.”
Foreign medical trips portray Buhari as colossal failure – HURIWA dismisses Femi Adesina’s explanation - DAILY POST
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has described as totally indefensible, reprehensible, despicable and a shame, President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical trip to the United Kingdom.
HURIWA noted that Buhari has been in charge of Nigeria both as a military head of state and two terms as a democratically elected President, adding that it was indefensible that during these years, the President could not fix Nigeria’s health infrastructure to end travelling abroad for medical reasons.
According to the human rights group, Buhari, who is in the second year of his final tenure, should not be seen globetrotting in search of medical assistance for his personal medical challenges.
“The failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to use six years to fix the health infrastructure in Nigeria so as to stave off medical tourism that drains Nigeria of the much-needed foreign reserves is totally indefensible, reprehensible, despicable and it is a shame to the nation that the president is even defending this immoral behavior,” the group said.
HURIWA was reacting to a recent statement by Femi Adesina, spokesman to the President, where he had given reasons why his principal travels overseas for medical tourism.
The organisation dismissed as puerile and illogical the position of Adesina, telling him to stop deceiving himself thinking he is convincing anyone about a matter that exposes the profound hypocrisy of his boss.
“President Buhari’s continuous junketing at huge expenses to the public in search of private health issues is a demonstration that he is a colossal failure as a political leader because as far as medical history is concerned, the current Nigerian President is the only leader in any civilized democracy that travels outside his nation in search of medical treatment,” HURIWA said.
HURIWA said that Buhari had personally condemned medical tourism which he claims drains Nigeria of resources, adding that it was hypocritical for him to continue engaging in medical tourism.
“If Buhari is honest, he would have deployed the right resources since 2015 to fix the health infrastructures and even build a state of the art medical centre to invite his British born medical doctors to relocate to Nigeria to avoid doing the same thing the President condemns,” the organisation added.
The rights group pointed to the fact that the National Assembly has been voting billions of Naira to fund the running of the presidential clinic in Aso Rock since 2015 with nothing to show for the funds.
The group further recalled First Lady, Aisha Buhari, had lamented the poor state of the presidential clinic, accusing the management of misusing the yearly budgets for the health institutions, saying that there were not even syringes at the clinic.
“We in HURIWA are shocked that the same President that makes heavy weather of fighting corruption has done nothing about this damaging allegation of corruption made by his wife but only yesterday, the President administered oath of secrecy on his staff in a bid to undermine the anti-graft crusade purportedly being carried out by the same government,” the group said in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and made available to DAILY POST on Thursday.