Travel News

Air passengers lament 100 % fare hike - THE NATION

MARCH 01, 2022

Passengers have continued to bemoan the recent 100 per cent hike in air fares by domestic airlines in the country.

A cross section of the passengers, who spoke in interviews, decried the hike in the fares in the past four week.

In Lagos, passengers called on the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), to intervene to bring down the fares.

They said most of the domestic airlines had pegged their minimum fares at N50, 000, from an average of N22, 000.

Checks at the booking counters of some airlines in Lagos, showed that Lagos-Abuja, one-way economy flight sells for between N62,350 and N92,000, depending on airlines, while return tickets sells for between N115,000 and N170,000.

Flight booked in advance range from N50, 250 to N60, 450 for economy class on one-way.

Lagos-Kano flights also go for between N81, 701 and N98, 000 per seat. Lagos-Port Harcourt route sells for N50, 950, while advance booking flight goes for N55,751 per traveller.

The minimum ticket price for a three-week booking on Air Peace, Ibom Air, Max Air, Azman air and others have been pegged at N50,000 flat rate, showing about 115 per cent increase from N23,300 minimum rate.

A passenger, Mr David Solomon, appealed to the relevant authorities to intervene on the sudden increase in tickets price.

Solomon, who said the new tariffs would have adverse effects on air travellers as most Nigerians would choose to go by road.

Ukraine-Russia war: FG to airlift 2,000 Nigerians, evacuation begins Wednesday - PUNCH

MARCH 01, 2022

BY  Leke Baiyewu, Tosin Omojuyigbe and Abiodun Nejo

The Federal Government will from Wednesday begin the evacuation of about 2,000 Nigerians who have fled the war in Ukraine to neighbouring countries.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who disclosed this in an interview on a Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, revealed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had approved funds for the airlines to evacuate Nigerians.

When asked if the number of evacuees was about 2,000, and when the evacuation would take place, he said, “Wednesday hopefully…Air Peace and Max Air.”

He  said there were about 8,000 Nigerians in Ukraine, 5,000 of whom were students, adding that the Federal Government had tipped Air Peace and Air Max to airlift the Nigerians who wanted to be evacuated.

Earlier, Onyeama  while briefing the House of Representatives on the evacuation efforts, he stated, “We made Romania the hub and over a thousand Nigerians have crossed there. Poland has about 250, Budapest in Hungary has a similar number, Slovakia is rising rapidly. It is also around 200. There are some Nigerians in a place called Sumy close to the Russian border.

“I have been in touch with the ambassador. There are about 150 of them who are looking to cross into Russia and we have asked the ambassador in Russia to try and get a permit for them to transit to Russia and hopefully by Wednesday we will start deploying planes to start bringing the Nigerians,” the minister said.

Onyeama argued that it was not the sole duty of the Federal Government to evacuate Nigerians that were stranded abroad because this was not the global practice. He said people who use their own money to travel abroad ought to be able to return home by themselves.

He recalled that last year, some Nigerians who willingly travelled to Russia for the World Cup but were unable to return home after exhausting their money.

The minister revealed that Buhari approved a flight to bring them back home.

Onyeama disclosed that family members of Nigerians diplomats in Ukraine had been taken out of the country, adding that the diplomats would also be evacuated soon.

He also stated that about four to five aircraft had been secured to airlift Nigerians from the Ukrainian neighbours.

On why the Nigerian government was not proactive like the United States which had advised its citizens to leave Ukraine over a week before the Russian invasion, Onyeama said the Nigerian diplomats in Ukraine were the ones that assured the Nigerian government that Russia would not invade.

He said no one could have known that Vladmir Putin would order his military to invade Ukraine barely days after he said he had withdrawn them from the border.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the House of Representatives met with Onyeama, on Monday.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his opening remarks, while noting that he was aware that the Nigerian Government was making efforts to rescue citizens from Ukraine, said there were reports that Nigerians are facing difficulty with exiting the country for the neighbouring countries.

Gbajabiamila also disclosed that the House was already in talks with a Nigerian airline, Air Peace, in its efforts to evacuate Nigerians from Ukraine.

He said, “For the House, one day is a day too long in terms of delay. We just want to hear from you and see if we can keep this thing moving. The Leader of the House (Alhassan Ado-Doguwa), together with the Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman (Yakub Buba), to also follow up; and if need be, get on the plane just to basically supervise and make sure that our citizens who we represent – irrespective of what anybody says out there; who are calling us (in the) morning, afternoon, night.

“This will be a kind of morale booster; to let them know that they have not been forgotten…to go with you (and see) if we can quickly address this situation and get the planes out there and make sure that our students – our citizens – are brought back.

“They (Ado-Doguwa and Buba) are still here. As of the time when the House made that resolution, it was shortly after that that we found out that Ukraine’s airports had been closed. But I believe the border states – Poland and the rest of them…their borders are open. Visas have been obtained, from what I heard, or they have been given automatic (humanitarian) visas.”

Responding, Onyeama agreed with Gbajabiamila that “this is a whole-of-government issue.” According to him, the government is concerned like every Nigerian.

The minister said in part, “I will say that 80 to 90 per cent of peoples and countries did not believe that the Russians could invade (Ukraine). We were in touch with our Ambassador there. I was on the phone with him almost every day. I said to him, ‘Should we start evacuating?’ He said, ‘No, everything is perfectly calm. Life is going on as normal and there is no need to panic and start evacuating.’

“Some days later, I would go back to him almost every day and there was a BBC programme where they interviewed Nigerian students; the students said that everything was normal in Kiev and other parts (of Ukraine) and they did not even know that there was a problem. That was the situation.

“Also, the Ukrainian Government did not want people to panic; they wanted to show that the situation was normal; they did not want people to start leaving, and so forth.”

The minister said when Russia moved into Ukraine and attacked the country, “it took everybody by surprise.” He added that the first thing he did was to get in touch with the Nigerian Ambassador and the Nigerians in Ukraine, while a hotline was set up with the Nigerian Embassy.

Onyeama also disclosed that the Nigerian Government was in touch with the Ukrainian authorities with the hope of going into the country immediately and start evacuating Nigerians. “But of course, the Russians attacked some airfields and the airspace was closed. That was not an option at all,” he stated.

According to the minister, the Nigerian Embassy “did very well; they really did extremely well.”

Onyeama also noted that both Ukrainians and non-citizens, including Nigerians, started moving towards the borders after the attack.

He said, “There are about 5,600 Nigerians there and maybe a total of about 8,000 Nigerians in Ukraine. Because there are a number of borders around Ukraine; Ukraine is the second largest country geographically and in land mass, in Europe; so it is a big country.”

Onyeama further disclosed that the ambassadors of the countries bordering Ukraine had been ordered to send officials to the borders to receive migrating Nigerians, noting that the Nigerians who were resident in the neighbouring countries had been helpful in receiving their countrymen.

“As you rightly said, we were in touch with the Chairman of Air Peace. At the time, he indicated that he had two planes (Boeing) 777 and an Airbus ready to go and I asked him if he would like to go today – Monday. But of course, we had to see Mr. President very quickly.

“Last week, I went and saw him (together) with the Chief of Staff (Ibrahim Gambari) and he approved that we should go ahead with an airlift. So, we negotiated with Air Peace and asked the ambassadors in those countries to give us an exact figure or at least an approximate figure of Nigerians who have made it to their respective countries, so we could decide on how to go and pick them up.

“The latest we heard was that Monday would not be feasible. So, we have tentatively fixed Wednesday. The idea is Romania; it is going to be the hub and there are about a thousand already that we have estimated to pick up from Romania; then, we have Slovakia with about 200; Poland also about 250; and Hungary with the same figure. But about 150 wanting to go through Russia, we have asked the ambassador to get a permit for them.”

Parents protest

Parents of Nigerian students studying in Ukraine and concerned stakeholders, on Monday, staged a peaceful protest at the Russian Embassy in Abuja.

The protest was to seek government’s intervention on their children stranded in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The protesters, bearing placards with inscriptions such as, “Our children, our future”; “Stop war, let peace reign”, also called on the warring parties to cease fire and sue for peace.

Speaking with journalists, some parents noted that they had invested a lot in sponsoring their wards to study abroad, so that they could afterwards return in one piece and be useful to their families, their country and the global community.

Afe Babalola seeks ceasefire in Russia, Ukraine war

Meanwhile a Senior advocate and founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, on Monday urged the world to prevail on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine to give way for peace and indeed the way forward out of the crisis.

Babalola, in a statement in Ado Ekiti, titled, ‘Ukraine: A victim of Russia’s expansion and world abandonment’, said, “The recent unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a classic example of the popular saying ‘that when the strong does what he likes, the weak suffers what he must’.

“How else can one describe the act of one of the most powerful countries in the world in invading a struggling state with numberless tanks, bombers and missiles from the sea, land and air thereby destroying valuable properties and killing thousands of innocent people including women, government officials and ministers with relish”.

Belarus may host  Russian nuclear weapons – EU

The European Union has warned that Belarus could start hosting Russian nuclear weapons after a “very dangerous” decision at a referendum to drop the country’s non-nuclear status.

“We know what does it mean for Belarus to be nuclear. It means that Russia will put nuclear weapons in Belarus and this is a very dangerous path,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.

Al Jazeera reports that the move by Belarus came as the country was being condemned internationally for being used as a launchpad by Russian forces to attack neighbouring Ukraine.

Borrell slammed the “fake referendum” on constitutional changes. The amendments allow the country to host nuclear weapons and Russian forces permanently. It also extended the rule of leader Alexander Lukashenko.

About 800 people were reportedly arrested after the vote sparked the biggest protests in months and thousands took to the streets in Belarus.

The vote to change the constitution was passed by 65 percent, according to official data.

Lukashenko has launched a ferocious crackdown on opponents since mass protests erupted after he claimed victory at an election in 2020 called fraudulent by the West.

The Belarusian leader, who has been in power since 1994, has shifted decisively towards Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin helped prop up his rule.

The EU is set to impose a new host of tough sanctions on Belarus as Minsk has facilitated Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine by acting as a staging post for forces involved in the assault.

Western allies fear the constitutional shift from Belarus – which neighbours three EU and NATO countries – could now bring more Russian nuclear weapons closer to their border.

Russia has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and a huge cache of ballistic missiles.

Putin ordered his nuclear forces on high alert on Sunday in a move the West said was “totally unacceptable”.

Meanwhile, the United States shuttered its embassy in Minsk and allowed non-emergency employees and family members to depart the embassy in Moscow.

“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

A photo posted on Twitter by US Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher on Monday showed mission staff lowering the American flag. All American staff have departed Belarus, Fisher tweeted.

The US relocated its embassy operations in Ukraine from the capital Kyiv to the western city of Lviv two weeks ago as Russian forces amassed at Ukraine’s borders.   ,,

‘Spectacular’ Dubai Property Bounce Likely to Continue, Knight Frank Says - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 01, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Dubai’s luxury home market should keep growing after a “spectacular turnaround” in 2021 fueled by the city’s recovery from the pandemic and openness to wealthy foreigners, according to Knight Frank.

Prime prices in Dubai accelerated 44% last year, sending the Middle East business hub to the top of Knight Frank’s Prime International Residential Index 100, according to the property consultant. Still, overall prices are 30% below their 2014 peak.

“The relentless demand from the world’s wealthy has fueled a spectacular turnaround in the fortunes of Dubai’s residential market, with the decisive handling of Covid-19 by the authorities attracting the attention of global investors,” Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at Knight Frank, wrote in a note.

The luxury end of the market came alive in Dubai last year after it became a haven for the wealthy escaping lockdowns and for others drawn by the ease of getting vaccinated. It also provided an additional lure after a property downturn shaved more than a third off values.

Last week, a Brookfield Asset Management Inc. joint venture signed Dubai’s largest office deal since 2019 after a Middle Eastern food-delivery firm decided to establish its regional headquarters there.

“It’s unlikely the growth of 2021 will be repeated this year, but with such limited prime stock, the top end of the market still has room for growth,” Durrani wrote.

Read more:

  • London’s Real Estate Supremacy at Risk from Oligarch Crackdown
  • Brookfield Venture Scores Dubai’s Biggest Office Deal Since 2019

Transport fares rise, filling stations sell petrol above N200 - PUNCH

MARCH 02, 2022

BY  Okechukwu Nnodim, Tunde Oyekola, Peter Dada, Bola Bamigbola, Abiodun Nejo, Raphael Ede

THE cost of transportation is on the increase across the country following the hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, in fillings stations in states.

Motorists still besieged the few filling stations that dispensed PMS in Abuja and neighbouring Nasarawa and Niger states on Tuesday, as many outlets in Nasarawa and other states sold the commodity at N200/litre and above.

This was in contrast to the Federal Government’s approved pump price of N162-N165/litre. In Abuja, black marketers freely sold petrol at N400/litre and above.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told one of our correspondents that the price of petrol in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was above N200/litre in filling stations.

“The queues in Port Harcourt are clearing out and filling stations sell at N200 and above for a litre of petrol,” he said.

In Ilorin, Kwara State, the transportation situation grew worse on Tuesday, as petrol scarcity continued.

Many petrol stations locked their gates, as only a few outlets, such as Bovas and the NNPC  dispensed petrol to motorists at the approved price of N162/litre amidst long queues.

Findings showed that fuel was being sold at between N350 to N500/litre in some independent petrol stations.

As a result of the fuel scarcity, transport fares increased by more than 300 per cent for both inter and intra-city transport.

In the Ilorin metropolis, commercial vehicles charged between N150 and N300 for short-distance trips, instead of the N50 that was previously charged.

Inter-city fares from Ilorin to Offa and Omu-Aran rose to between N800 to N1,500, instead of N300 and N800 as was previously charged.

In Ondo State, fuel was sold for N200 per litre at the black market level which thrived better late in the evening or at midnight.

During visits to some of the filling stations in Akure, the state capital, it was observed that the stations that dispensed petrol during the day, sold the commodity at the approved N165/litre price.

Meanwhile, the queues persisted in many filling stations as the scarcity of petrol continued on Tuesday.

In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, some residents exploited the situation as they sold petrol at between N250 and N300/litre to motorists.

In a few of the filling stations that sold the product, there were long queues of vehicles and motorcycles waiting to get the PMS.

Many residents also bought the product in plastic containers, while black marketers were sighted along Station Road and Dele Yes Sir Area of Osogbo on Tuesday.

Similarly, petrol scarcity grew worse in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Tuesday, as the product sold for as high as N300/litre.

At the pumps, the product went for between N162 and N250/litre on Tuesday depending on the ownership of the station. Black market operators sold it at N300/litre.

At the NNPC outlet and Bovas Petroleum along Bank Road where the product sold for N162/litre, the queues of vehicles and motorbikes were endless.

It was the same situation at the NNPC outlet along Iyin Road in the capital city where the product was sold at N165/litre.

In Enugu State, fuel was sold in a few stations owned by independent marketers at between N200 and N220/litre, while major marketers sold the product for N165 and N189/litre.

One of our correspondents, who monitored the development in Enugu State metropolis, reported that only North-West and Mobil dispensed the product to motorists on Tuesday.

Ukraine: 2,090 stranded Nigerians received in Hungary, Romania, others -FG - PUNCH

MARCH 02, 2022

BY  Sodiq Oyeleke

Ukraine: 2,090 stranded Nigerians received in Hungary, Romania, others -FG

No fewer than 2,090 Nigerians have been received in Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia amid the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.

The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja made this known in a press statement titled, ‘Nigerians in Ukraine – Evacuation Update 5’.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gabriel Aduda, in the statement, noted that some of the Nigerians, who fled the war in Ukraine to neighbouring countries, are expected to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday.

Part of the statement read, “Furtherance to our efforts to evacuate Nigerians from the neighboring countries surrounding Ukraine, we can confirm that Chattered flights will depart on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, to pick up Nigerian evacuees back home.

“So far, we have the following records of evacuees received by Nigerian embassies in Hungary (650 persons), Poland (350 persons), Romania (940 persons) and Slovakia (150 persons).

“The capacity and route of the airlines are as follows: Max Air to Romania 560 persons, Air Peace to Poland 364 persons, and Air Peace to Hungary 360 persons.

“The first batch of evacuees are expected to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday, March 3, 2022.

“Once again, we assure Nigerians that we are working round the clock to see that our citizens are brought back home safely.”

Buhari leaves for Nairobi, London as fuel scarcity bites harder nationwide -THE GUARDIAN

MARCH 02, 2022

• Kaduna, Ilorin motorists sleep at filling stations
• Marketers deny blending of adulterated petrol, say product yet to be evacuated
• We’ll not lift PMS for depot owners selling above N148.77, says NUPENG
• NMDPRA, NNPC deploy security agencies to check petrol diversion
• Ex-depot price now N185

From far North to oil-rich Niger Delta, Nigerians who are already impoverished by the high cost of living, are grappling with the harsh reality of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) shortage, as the hope of adequate supply dims.

Yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum, left the country to take part in a special session to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Environmental Programme in Nairobi, Kenya.

He will proceed to London, the United Kingdom, for a routine medical check-up as part of the itinerary that is expected to last two weeks. The President, already, has been knocked for the trip described as extravagant and not demonstrating the real situation at home.

As he travels between East Africa and the UK, he leaves behind a country dotted with endless queues and unending blame game, over, who is responsible for the ending PMS scarcity.

His ministry supervises the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, which has become the sole importer of the product and other state parastatals at manning critical components of the system.

Indeed, marketers noted that the situation would prevail until the adulterated products are evacuated from the affected stations, adding that the products cannot be blended as insinuated by the NNPC.

With a litre of the product selling for as much as N300 at the black market and N200 at some filling stations, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), yesterday, threatened that its members would not lift products for depot owners selling above official depot price of N148.77. The Secretary-General, Afolabi Olawale, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“One of the lines of action we are going to take is any depot that is not selling at the official rate, our members will not carry their products,” he said.

Last week, the union issued a 24-hour ultimatum to marketers to revert to the official rate of N148.77. It had accused the marketers of exploiting Nigerians by selling PMS at the depots far above the official rate.

“Depot owners are not the ones directly importing the products but taking products from NNPC. Nobody has given official statements that PMS is no longer under subsidy regime and, in that wise, the general public cannot be buying products at N250, N220, N180, from the depot. We are asking all these depot owners to stop exploiting the general public and sell at an official rate,” Olawale told NAN.

NUPENG’s threat came as the ex-depot price is said to have hit N185/per litre. The adjustment of the ex-depot came without any clear communication from the government, and this is seen as one of the many leadership gaps coming from the ministry headed by the President. The subsidy regime was to end with the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which the President abruptly announced suspension until after his tenure in 2023.

Unending fuel queues, roads dotted by fuel hawkers and stranded commuters have become common features of major cities and towns across the country. The situation is the same in Abuja, Asaba, Benin, Enugu Ilorin, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Uyo.

In many parts of Lagos, long queues at fuel stations dispensing the product have led to extremely slow-moving traffic as motorists waste their limited fuel on the road.

In Kano, the scarcity has forced motorists indoors as traffic situations have eased in the ancient city.

Long queues have taken over a few filing stations that dispense as motorists continue to suffer untold hardships.

Some motorists have to park their vehicles at home and resort to trekking or joining public transport to their various destinations while transport fares have significantly increased.

A retired civil servant, Abdullahi Mallam, explained his harrowing experience any time he had to buy fuel at the filling station.

“With the scarcity, I am compelled to spend N1200 per gallon at the black market. This has forced me to curtail my movement; I can no longer move around as before. It is, indeed, a nasty experience,” he lamented.

Another resident, Mustapha Adamu told The Guardian that he stopped queuing at filling stations and resorted to the black market, stressing: “Some of us have succumbed to pressure and started buying at whatever price. Ironically, as big as Kano is, only a few filling stations are selling, the vast majority have shut down.”

In Kaduna, a neighbouring state, motorists, who had almost given up, filed at several filling stations, yesterday, following news of improvement in supply. But that had not stopped black marketers, who continued to have a field day. They crowded different filling stations to fill their gallons, which they sold at exorbitant prices to motorists, who could not endure hours or days of waiting.

At the black market, a gallon of four litres sold for N2, 000. Many private and commercial vehicle drivers stay many days in queues at filling stations. Most filling stations that had been selling had run out of supply since last week.

In Ilorin, Kwara State, only major marketers sell for N165 per litre. A few independent marketers sell between N200 and N210 per litre while black marketers sell for N300.

MEANWHILE, dispensing into gallons is outlawed at filling stations, allowing black market merchants to make a brisk business out of the misfortune.

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, promised a task force set up by the state government would ensure there is sanity in the market. Yet, motorists sleep at filling stations as the scarcity defies measures.

Expectedly, the number of vehicles plying major routes has reduced by about 50 per cent, subjecting commuters, who have to trek to their destinations, to agony.

The scarcity has led to an increase in prices of staple foods and other household items just as commercial cab operators have doubled their fares.

The situation is almost similar in major towns outside the state capital. Including Offa, Omuaran and Lafiaji. This has increased the cost of intra-state travelling and the general cost of living.

In Delta, an oil-producing state, most outlets, but NNPC Mega Stations, sell at prices ranging from N250 to N300.

In Asaba, the state capital, yesterday, was a sad day for two journalists from the State-owned Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS) as they were brutalised and their camera damaged for filming queues at NorthWest fuel station along Asaba/Onitsha Expressway.

Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), DBS chapel, Pere Botu, said: “The police and other security operatives were behind the incident,” adding that the GM has called the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ali, who said he was in Abuja, to make a complaint.

Many fuel attendants have struck deals with black market dealers who circumvent the queues to get the product in their gallons and sell to consumers at cut-throat prices.

Over 80 per cent of petrol stations in Enugu State had no product. The development had triggered an upward rise in the price in filling stations that were selling as well as long queues in the state.

The cost of commuting has also increased by, at least, 100 per cent. Short distances previously charged N100 are now N200.

In Anambra State capital, most filling stations had the product but there were queues as only one or two pumps were being used. Most of them sold N190 or N200 per litre. However, NNPC Mega Stations in Akwa sold for N165 except that the queues are better imagined.

In Onitsha, the queues were scanty but the prices ranged between N200 and N250. At Nnewi, it was from N210 to N220 per litre.

Fuel queues have become part of the lifestyle of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states. Most independent marketers in Calabar and environs sold between N170 and N190 while the major marketers sold at N165 or N170 as at yesterday.

A pump attendant said panic buying compounded the situation and that there was sufficient product to go round if only consumers could buy only what they needed at a time.

In Uyo, a litre of PMS was from N190 to N200. And since many marketers rather sell at night, black markers have taken over the market. Transport fares have increased by as much as 50 per cent to 100 per cent.

Meanwhile, Nigerians who wait on the promises of NNPC Limited to see the end of scarcity as soon as possible may need to adjust their expectations as marketers were not clear on a feasible solution as of yesterday.

While the queues are getting worse across the country, marketers yesterday told The Guardian that the ex-depot price which was around N140 per litre has now moved to N185 in most depots, making the N165 litre pump price unrealistic.

Most marketers, especially the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) that supplies over 90 per cent of the products, said the prevailing situation had forced them to shut down.

While The Guardian learnt that the NNPC Limited may have shelved a new N500,000 ship-to-ship coordination charge for each transshipment operation for petrol, IPMAN said the charges by some associations at the depot, especially the tankers drivers have moved from N2,000 to N50, 000, adding extra operation charges that would be factored into the pump price.

Recall that memo from NNPC Limited with Ref. NNPC/ML/STS01, dated 18 February 2022 and addressed to all marketers with the heading, read: “Please be informed that the NNPC Management has directed that effective 10th February 2022, the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Naira, (N500, 000.00) only will be charged for STS Coordination fee for each transshipment operation involving NNPC Marine Logistics.”

Insiders at Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPMAN) said the national oil company told marketers not to pay the charges.

“They didn’t allow payment, which is contrary to the letter. I will keep monitoring to know if they ask for it after now,” a source said.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja, the Vice President of IPMAN, Abubakar Shettima, said there is no product in depots for the marketers to retail.

He added that only a few private depots had products and now sell above the normal ex-depot price, urging the government to either allow full deregulation of the sector or do the needful to ensure that the queues disappear.

As part of measures to halt shortage, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said it has deployed security agencies including the Department of State Security (DSS) to escort loaded trucks that convey petroleum products to approved retail outlets to avoid diversion.

The Authority’s Chief Executive (ACE) of NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, who disclosed this yesterday, added that the NNPC Limited and other authorities are collaborating to ensure product availability in the country.

He explained: “The Authority is working with security agencies and other relevant security agencies to ensure trucks go to approved fuel stations with the correct volume and the correct locations. In the case of Abuja, we are loading from the Suleja depot. We have security personnel that escort every truck to their destinations. This is to prevent product diversion and unnecessary profiteering by unscrupulous stakeholders. The Authority is also working with the NNPC Limited to ensure seamless supply of petroleum products across the country.”

The NMDPRA boss revealed that the Authority has also increased its surveillance and monitoring activities in a manner that prevents opportunities for those that want to take advantage of the situation.

“Nationwide, the Authority has increased its monitoring activities. Of course, we have to stop people that will want to take advantage of the situation. This is why we have established routes through which people can report any unscrupulous activities,” he said.

Reacting to allegations of under-dispensing and using fewer pumps by filling stations, Ahmed said: “Sometimes, stations do not use most of their pimps for technical reasons. If there is a new delivery, it is normal to finish dispensing the old product before beginning with the new one. There are operational reasons certain things happen at the filling stations which the general public is not aware of.”

Ukraine: Max Air begins evacuation of stranded Nigerians today - PUNCH

MARCH 02, 2022

BY Okechukwu Nnodim

Max Air on Tuesday confirmed that beginning from today (Wednesday), it would commence the evacuation of Nigerians who were left stranded by the Russia-Ukraine war.

But Air Peace, on the other hand, said it had not started the evacuation process, stressing that this would be made public soon.

The General Manager, Operations, Max Air, Raymond Omodiagbe, told our correspondent that the Federal Government had requested the airline to carryout the task and that the carrier was set to begin.

He said, “We have been assigned and we are on it. We’ve been airlifting pilgrims to Hajj and doing chartered operations for many years. So we are not new to this.

“So understand that we have been commissioned and we will depart tomorrow (Wednesday). We are operating tomorrow and it is to start bringing in the people.”

Asked to state the number of flights or airplanes that would be deployed for the operation, Omodiagbe replied, “We are doing it one at a time.”

When asked to state when Air Peace would start evacuating Nigerians as required by the Federal Government, a spokesperson of the airline, Stanley Olisa, said it would be communicated soon.

“We have not started but specifics will be disclosed soon,” he told our correspondent.

The Federal Government had on Monday said it would on Wednesday begin the evacuation of about 2,000 Nigerians who have fled the war in Ukraine to neighbouring countries.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who disclosed this in an interview on a Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, revealed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had approved funds for the airlines to evacuate Nigerians.

When asked if the number of evacuees was about 2,000, and when the evacuation would take place, he said, “Wednesday hopefully…Air Peace and Max Air.”

He said there were about 8,000 Nigerians in Ukraine, 5,000 of whom were students, adding that the Federal Government had tipped Air Peace and Air Max to airlift the Nigerians who wanted to be evacuated.

Earlier, Onyeama  while briefing the House of Representatives on the evacuation efforts, he stated, “We made Romania the hub and over a thousand Nigerians have crossed there. Poland has about 250, Budapest in Hungary has a similar number, Slovakia is rising rapidly. It is also around 200. There are some Nigerians in a place called Sumy close to the Russian border.

“I have been in touch with the ambassador. There are about 150 of them who are looking to cross into Russia and we have asked the ambassador in Russia to try and get a permit for them to transit to Russia and hopefully by Wednesday we will start deploying planes to start bringing the Nigerians,” the minister said.

Onyeama argued that it was not the sole duty of the Federal Government to evacuate Nigerians that were stranded abroad because this was not the global practice. He said people who use their own money to travel abroad ought to be able to return home by themselves.

U.S. Will Ban Russian Aircraft From Flying Through Its Airspace - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 02, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden will announce that U.S. airspace is being closed to Russian airlines in his State of the Union address, joining most European nations and Canada in response to the invasion of Ukraine, said two people familiar with the government’s decision.

The people asked not to be named speaking about the issue prior to the announcement Tuesday night.

The action is largely symbolic since earlier airspace closings have made it very difficult for Russian aircraft to reach the U.S. from most locations. Canada blocked two Aeroflot flights attempting to return to Russia from the U.S. on Monday. 

United Airlines Holdings Inc. said on Tuesday it would stop flying over Russia, which its daily flights to India had done. American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. had earlier said they stopped flying over Russia on Feb. 23.

EXPLAINER: Why Ukraine is popular destination for Nigerian students - BUSINESSDAY

MARCH 02, 2022

The ongoing war in Ukraine, the second largest county in Europe after Russia, has put Ukrainians and foreigners living in the country, including Nigerians, in a state of fear, panic and confusion.

The bulk of Nigerians living in Ukraine are students. According to Ukraine’s ministry of education and science, Morocco, Nigeria, and Egypt are the top three on the list of countries whose students are studying in Ukraine, with 8,000, 4,000 and 3,500 students respectively. The three countries made up nearly 20 percent of all foreign students in Ukraine as at 2020.

Other countries where many Nigerian students are studying include the United States of America (13,762) and the United Kingdom (13,020) as at 2019/2020 academic year, according to data collated from the US Institute of International Education and the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency.

“Nigerians represent one of the numerous groups of all foreign students studying in Ukraine. All these students have chosen Ukraine not by coincidence. But the fact, there are a few weighty reasons behind this choice,” StudyinUkraine.SITE, a Ukraine-based legal company, said on its website.

Here are the top reasons why Nigerian students are studying in Ukraine.

One of the cheapest countries to live in

According to a report by the Sydney-based Ceoworld magazine, Ukraine is one of the most affordable countries in the world in terms of living costs.

It is ranked 107th out of 132 most expensive countries in the world in 2020, cheaper than Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK, which ranked 16th, 20th, 24th, and 27th respectively.

Courses are globally recognised by international bodies (WHO, UNESCO, European Council, etc.)

The courses that are offered by the colleges and universities in Ukraine are well recognised all over the world, especially for medical science and engineering courses. Its higher institutions offer a full range of graduate, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in a variety of majors.

“Statistics shows that a great majority of Nigerian students choose medical, aviation, economic and technical or engineering universities are of a high standard with big structures and very qualified teachers,” StudyinUkraine.SITE said.

Cheap tuition fee for Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)

MBBS in Ukraine is said to be the cheapest when compared with top countries to study in.

Data from StudyinUkraine.SITE show that tuition fees for MBBS range from $4,000 to $5,000 per year in Ukraine; $15,000 to $60,000 in the UK; $15,000 to $75,000 in the US; $20,000 to $90,000 in Canada; and $25,000 to $75,000 in Australia.

In Nigeria, the average cost of studying MBBS in private universities is estimated at $7,000-$8,000 per year.

No eligibility tests

Usually, to gain admission to study in other countries, external exams are required. But for Ukraine, there is no need for such as any student who has a Secondary School Certificate and Masters and Ph.D. as well as university transcript result can apply to study there.

English language as a medium of instruction

International students are given the option to choose their medium of instruction from English, Ukrainian and Russian.

For most countries, including Nigeria, English is the main language. So, the students take all their courses in English in the universities.

Chances of gaining a European residency is high

Earning a degree from any university in Ukraine gives you the opportunity to be able to settle in any European country, such as France, Italy or Spain.

Travel discount

International students enjoy approximately 50 percent discount on travel.

France is the most visited country in the world. Here’s why - CNBC

MARCH 02, 2022

You might think a large country like the United States is the most visited in the world, but you’d be wrong — France takes that honor.

About 90 million international visitors traveled there in 2019, and tourism makes up 8% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the French ministry of foreign affairs. As with other countries, tourist numbers plunged during the coronavirus pandemic and revenue from visitors to France was cut in half over the first seven months of 2020.

Like the United States, France has mountains, wineries, famous sights and dramatic coastlines in abundance, with a wine-making heritage thought to be thousands of years old. (Spain ranks second for tourist numbers, with 83.5 million in 2019, followed by the United States, with 79.3 million, according to the World Tourism Organization).

On top of that, France is easily accessible from neighboring European countries, is relatively small and has a certain “je ne sais quoi” — something that you can’t quite put your finger on — those who know the country well told CNBC.

Something for everyone

In the Urville region, an area where vines were first planted around 2,000 years ago in Roman times, sits a vineyard and business that spans eight generations.

Charline Drappier, who works alongside her grandfather, parents and two brothers running the family’s Champagne Drappier label, said the vineyard is especially popular with visitors from the U.S., Italy, Belgium, the U.K. and Germany. She adds that people are drawn to France for its variety.

Charline Drappier and family members at their vineyard in Champagne, France. Charline Drappier and family members at their vineyard in Champagne, France. Courtesy: Philippe Martineau | Champagne Drappier

“You can travel in quite a small patch of the world and the diversity … will be cultural or just natural,” she told CNBC by phone. “Everyone finds something that they want to discover about France … in the history, in obviously the Alps, the beach, the complete wilderness, and also lot of a cultural [interests].”

France is one of the most popular destinations for clients of Virtuoso, a network of travel agents and experts, according to its Vice President Misty Belles, who is based in Washington D.C. “Accessibility certainly factors in, but there are many European countries with good airlift and rail service,” she told CNBC by email.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Alexander Spatari | Moment | Getty Images

“People are drawn to France for the exquisite cuisine, culture, pure beauty of the country and, ultimately, the way they feel when there. There is a certain romance to France,” she added. Like Drappier, Belles says France’s variety is part of its appeal, and the country is more easily traveled than others: “Given the size of the country, it’s easily navigated … without traveling vast distances as you do within the U.S.”

Paris is a personal highlight for Belles, who has been to France more than 20 times. “I reach a point when I’m away too long where my soul misses Paris,” she said.

Pau, in southwest France. Pau, in southwest France. P. Eoche | Photodisc | Getty Images

Some of Drappier’s favorite places are in southwest France. She picked out the city of Pau, with its views of the Pyrenees mountains, describing it as “very authentic,” and listed wine bar Les Papilles Insolites as a top choice.

In the first year of the pandemic, Drappier, her husband and baby daughter did a road trip in Le Massif Central, a mountainous region in the south that she had little knowledge of. The remote Aubrac region was a highlight for her. She recommended Restaurant Serge Vieira, which has two Michelin stars, for its views of the countryside. She also suggested Le Suquet, which hit the headlines in 2018 when chef Sebastian Bras gave up his three Michelin stars, saying he no longer wanted to cook under such pressure.

Drappier also likes the Philippe Starck-designed hotel La Coorniche, “a gem of a place” on the site of a 1930s hunting lodge around an hour’s drive south of Bordeaux. She also recommends Alice Cap Ferret, a nearby bookstore that doubles as a wine merchant.

Practical and emotional appeal

Cap Ferret, a residential area that stretches about two miles along a finger-shaped peninsula, is also beloved by Michael Baynes, a real estate agent from the U.K. who moved to France 15 years ago. He describes it as “very chichi” and popular with French people on vacation.

Low tide at Arcachon Bay, Cap Ferret, France. Low tide at Arcachon Bay, Cap Ferret, France. Daniele Schneider | Photononstop | Getty Images

Baynes said France is popular for both practical and emotional reasons. “France is very well organized to receive guests. It’s got excellent roads … transportation, whether it’s train, road or aircraft, it’s all relatively easy, so it is well-positioned to receive guests from all over the world,” he told CNBC by phone.

Almost all businesses in France are small- or medium-sized, with 99.9% having fewer than 250 employees, according to the OECD. Baynes said many of the smaller hospitality firms are family-run and of “high quality.” He added: “If you go online and you’re [looking for] high quality bedrooms in the Bordeaux region, you’re going to get a long list of really good quality options. And these are … family-run businesses that often do terrific food as well.”

The medieval Chateau de Beynac overlooking the Dordogne River, France The medieval Chateau de Beynac overlooking the Dordogne River in France. Manfred Gottschalk | Stone | Getty Images

“On the emotional side … it’s just a stunning place. I lived in Southern California, which some people consider as paradise, in a place called Orange County … and I moved [to France] almost 15 years ago and have not looked back,” Baynes said. He is based in the Dordogne region and his real estate firm Maxwell-Baynes sells luxury homes in southwest France to French and American clients as well as to those in other European countries and Israel.

At the top of Baynes’s list of places to visit is La Rochelle, a small beachside city in western France, which he rates highly for shopping, restaurants and beaches, as well as for being less expensive than other places. The islands of Ile de Rey and Ile d’Oleron, connected to La Rochelle by bridge, are good for cycling and seafood and are “unknown” to many, Baynes said.

As for better-known places, he likes Cannes, on the French Riviera. “I love the elegance of it … it’s a place where you can put on a particular jacket that you only save for certain occasions, or if it’s in the winter, you might put on your Moncler [coat],” he stated.


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