NIMC, NIS data integration delaying passport issuance – Immigration boss - PUNCH
The Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Isah Idris, has blamed the delay in the issuance of passports on the integration of data between NIS, and the National Identity Management Commission.
He gave the reason in a media briefing on Saturday, warning Nigerians against bribing immigration officials.
Idris said the single data integration policy of the government is aimed at enhancing the nation’s security architecture to protect the identity of Nigerians.
The immigration boss lamented the increasing number of Nigerians seeking override of the newly introduced appointment system for passport issuance, describing it as an abuse of the system.
He said the appointment system was introduced to reduce physical interface with personnel, overcrowding and arbitrariness, which he noted had all consistently combined to promote corruption and abuse.
Idris said, “The delay in the processing of passport applications could be as a result of the integration of data between NIS and the NIMC, which also in turn integrate with the BVN data of applicants.
“Apart from this, because passports confer on holders the integrity of a nation, the integrity of producing such documents should also not be compromised. So, we must verify the addresses of the applicants and there is a company that already does that for us. We must confirm the authenticity of the claims before we proceed with production.
“Nigerians should not induce our officers by giving them money. It won’t make anything fast for them. We have ensured a corruption-free process.”
The acting CGI appealed to Nigerians in diaspora facing difficulties with passports, saying that access to forex has been difficult for the company handling the passport production project.
He said the NIS has a mandate to renew passports within three weeks and complete new applications in six weeks.
The acting comptroller general of NIS also said the commission had launched an online appointment system.
“Like parcels sent through logistic companies or visa applications, we have introduced a tracking system so that people can stay in the comfort of their rooms and know the status of their passport applications.
“You don’t need to offer anyone any kobo. All that you need to do is to log into our website on www.trackimmigration.gov.ng, upload the required details and see an immediate response on the status of your passports,” he said.
He noted within the next four weeks NIS would deploy a new system for applicants to validate their national identity numbers before they can proceed to make payment for passports online and book appointments for capturing.
“Most delays are usually caused by the NIN validation problems and what we want to do now will allow individual applicants to, first of all, verify and validate their NIN and only upload validated NIN before they can pay for passports. By doing that, we would have successfully tackled the issue of delay from other partners which we don’t have control over,” he said.
Flights Resume At Kaduna Airport – Two Months After Bandits Attack - CHANNELS TV
Commercial flights resumed on Monday at the Kaduna International Airport two months after it was attacked by bandits.
The bandits had on March 26 launched an attempted invasion of the facility, killing a private security guard attached to the Nigerian Airspace management Agency near the outer perimeter fence.
They were however repelled by security forces attached to the airport.
Following the attack, commercial airlines plying the route suspended their flights, seeking improved security.
It appears efforts have been made to allay fears of airline operators as the first commercial flight since the incident landed at the airport at exactly 8am on Monday morning.
Passengers expressed delight over the resumption of services.
Disappointments as Nigerian Air refuses to fly amid aviation crisis - DAILY POST
With about one year to the end of the current administration, the much anticipated Air Nigeria has failed to commence operations despite the promises by President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
Air Nigeria, which was established in 2004, was a joint venture between Virgin Group and Nigerian investors before ceasing operations in 2012.
The ‘Presidential Aviation Roadmap’ was launched in 2016, along with a new national carrier aimed at developing cargo airports, a new Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, a national leasing company and other initiatives.
In November 2021, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, assured that Nigeria Air would be launched in April 2022 after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave approval.
Sirika said Nigeria Air ownership would comprise 49% by equity partners, 46% by Nigerians and 5% by the Federal Government.
President Buhari made the operation of a national airline one of his Presidential campaign promises, setting an initial launch date of 2018 but was pushed to April 2022.
It is believed that Air Nigeria would have cushioned some of the crisis bedevilling the country’s aviation sector. The cost of air travel in Nigeria recently increased astronomically due to the hike in the price of aviation fuel, Jet A1.
The cost of Jet A1 shot up the cost of aviation operations to over 95 percent, thereby causing hardship to passengers.
Speaking on this development, Isaac Balami, the Managing Director and Accountable Manager of 7 Star Global Hangar, said the government would have been more informed about the plight of the aviation sector if Air Nigeria had commenced operations.
Balami stressed that the Nigerian aviation sector would have been better than what it is now if Air Nigeria had been in operation.
Speaking exclusively with DAILY POST, the former National President for Aircraft Pilots and Engineers in Nigeria said: “The aviation sector is not just going to the garage to pick up a new car in Coscharis or Elizade. Aviation is different; even if you have a brand new aircraft manufactured that takes years, you need special equipment and tools to operate them. You still have to train your pilot, engineers, technicians, air hostess, flight dispatchers, and baggage handlers. So, it has a lot of technicalities which I believe the government has been trying to work on
“Since Nigerian Airways went down, we have been struggling as a nation in terms of training aviation personnel. Aviation is beyond just the airline; when you have a national carrier, the government must not become a flag carrier, an example is American Airline, and Delta Airline; they are not US government-owned, but are privately owned.
“As a matter of fact, British Airways is not 100 percent owned by the government; it’s privately driven.
“So, whether you call it a flag or national carrier, if the government understands what is required of them, then laying the foundation and putting basic things on the ground, it will positively affect the airlines itself and the national leasing company.
“We hope that, as the Minister of Aviation said, it’s going to happen this year before the elections; we want it to work so that jobs will be created. We also want local airlines like Dana, Air peace, and Arik to be carried along, because I don’t think that the issue of having a national carrier is to kill the local domestic carriers that have been there for us all these years.
“You know, aviation is not just about buying cars and starting to drive them to work.”
Belamy also affirmed that Nigerian Air would have cushioned the crisis in the aviation sector if it had been in operation.
He said: “It will because the government has a stake, even if it’s just 5 percent in the proposed national carrier. If they are there on the board, they would know what is happening and clearly know that things are tight.”
“There is nothing wrong with the government having a small stake in feeling what the people are going through. We won’t be where we are if we have a robust flag carrier. There would be some incentives and support that are not happening the way they should, so we wish something better happens soon,” he added.
Chinese Working in Africa Face Threat of Kidnapping - VOA
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA —
Kidnapping for lucrative ransoms has become a big business in some countries in Africa, and the criminal act affects Chinese nationals as well as other foreign workers, say analysts. They say that due to China’s massive presence on the continent, whether in oil or other industries, it is inevitable Chinese often end up being targets.
The problem has not gone unnoticed by Beijing, and earlier this month, Chinese officials and representatives from local Chinese companies in Nigeria held a video conference to discuss security issues.
The oil-rich country is Africa’s largest economy and China is a key partner, having invested billions of dollars over the years. Some 8,616 Chinese were working in Nigeria in 2020, according to the latest available data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins University.
Nigeria is home to Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, as well as opportunistic criminal gangs known locally as “bandits,” both of whom often kidnap locals but also pose a huge threat to foreign workers.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has regularly vowed to crack down on insurgent groups and armed gangs in the country, while a new bill passed by the Senate last month makes paying ransoms a crime.
Why the Chinese?
Asked why Chinese might be favored targets for kidnappers, Cobus van Staden, senior researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said, “One of the contributing factors in all of this is the perception you see in African countries that Chinese people keep lots of cash on hand.”
A “sweet pastry” for kidnappers — that’s how Chen Hanqing, a Nigeria-based engineer, described himself and the many other Chinese nationals working on infrastructure projects in Africa.
Chen told China’s state newspaper the Global Times that Chinese are prime targets for violent militants and that one compatriot who had been kidnapped by an armed group had described the experience as “hell on Earth.”
It’s difficult to find clear statistics on the number of Chinese who have been kidnapped in Africa because “these cases are often not publicized either from the law enforcement side or the Chinese side,” van Staden said. It’s also not always reported when victims are freed and whether ransoms are paid.
“We do, however, know that in some cases in terms of how the Chinese deal with it, they do pay the ransom” van Staden said, adding, “I think in some places the corporates would be more likely to pay ransoms than the embassies.”
Increasingly, Chinese companies are using private security firms to protect their workers, he added, pointing to Frontier Services Group, based in Hong Kong and Beijing, which recently provided security for Chinese executives visiting work sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The meeting earlier in the month, involving Chinese officials and stakeholders, was attended by the head of the Ministry of Public Safety’s working group, Yin Guohai, as well as China’s ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun, and its consul general, Chu Maoming. Also in attendance were representatives from numerous Chinese companies operating in Nigeria, including Dejin Mining and Dahua Paper.
According to a summary of the meeting on the website of the Chinese embassy in Nigeria, Yin Guohai commended Nigerian authorities for “the successful destruction of a group of kidnapping criminal gangs” and noted, “Many Chinese citizens who were kidnapped had been rescued.”
Cui, however, said Chinese working in the country still faced numerous security risks, “posing a serious threat to production” as well as affecting the quality of life for workers.
Earlier this year, three Chinese nationals working on the Sino-Hydro Power Dam in the central state of Niger were kidnapped by armed men, and two of their local colleagues were killed.
Last year, gunmen kidnapped four Chinese rail project workers and killed their police escort in Nigeria’s Ogun state. The workers were freed less than a week later according to media reports, with the Daily Post Nigeria newspaper reporting that an “undisclosed” ransom was paid.
Nigeria isn’t the only place where Chinese corporations face security threats.
The mineral-rich and conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo is another country where kidnappings have occurred. Last November, five Chinese nationals working at a gold mine in the eastern DRC were kidnapped.
The abductions prompted the Chinese embassy in the DRC to issue an alert, warning citizens not to go to high-risk provinces there, and for the Chinese Foreign Ministry to warn about security risks in African countries, according to the Global Times .
Shortly after that warning was issued, local authorities said people were kidnapped and two Chinese nationals killed during an attack by a militia on a mining camp in the eastern DRC.
Van Staden noted that the fact that there have been warnings from Beijing and that meetings like the one between Chinese officials and the Nigerian government are taking placed showed the kidnapping issue was “clearly receiving high level concern.”
Oluwole Ojewale is an analyst at the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies. He told VOA that extremist groups or criminal gangs are looking for profitable ransoms. Ojewale said because of that, he thinks large Chinese corporations will now have money set aside for such security risks and will either pay ransoms or use private security operatives to try to protect their staff.
Asked whether the level of threats Chinese face in Africa — which is part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative to build and invest in infrastructure in various regions of the world to promote trade — will lead to a decrease in direct foreign investment, Ojewale said he thinks profits will likely trump security concerns.
“I don’t think Chinese businesses will pull out … irrespective of how volatile the environment is,” he said.
Petrol prices exceed £1.70 per litre for first time - P.A.MEDIA
Average petrol prices have exceeded £1.70 per litre for the first time, new figures show.
The average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts on Tuesday was 170.4p, according to data firm Experian Catalist.
Diesel also reached a record high of 181.4p per litre.
Petrol has become around 41p per litre more expensive over the past 12 months, adding around £23 to the cost of filling a typical 55-litre family car.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the price of petrol has reached “another unfortunate landmark”.
“While wholesale prices may have peaked for the time being last week, they are still worryingly high, which means there’s no respite from the record-high pump prices which are so relentlessly contributing to the cost-of-living crisis,” he said.
“We badly need the Government to take more action to ease the burden on drivers, which we hope will feature in its announcement expected this week.
“VAT at 20% on fuel is currently benefitting the Treasury to the tune of around 30p a litre, which seems very unfair when you consider it’s a tax on a tax as fuel duty – despite being cut to 53p a litre at the end of March – is charged at the wholesale level.”
AA fuel price spokesman Luke Bosdet said petrol has passed “yet another milestone of misery along the road of record pump prices”.
He added that there is “still quite some variation in pump prices among fuel stations in most areas”, and it is “particularly galling” when supermarkets of the same brand charge “significantly more” at one superstore compared with another in the same region.
Lagos Warns Against Patronising Unlicensed E-Hailing Operators - DAILY TRUST
By Abdullateef Aliyu
The Lagos State government has urged the citizenry to be wary of unlicensed e-hailing operators within the state as they pose security threats to the safety of lives and property.
The Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, who made the plea stated that the state government has observed high levels of non-compliance by some unlicensed operators who flagrantly violate the guidelines developed to regulate their activities.
He disclosed that the government is displeased over the refusal of the App owners and partners (drivers) to comply with the law guiding their operation in the wake of criminal activities in the State.
The transport commissioner maintained that the state government has held a series of meetings geared toward compliance with the regulations guiding e-hailing operations within the metropolis.
He urged residents to ensure that they patronised only the licensed operators as many of the unauthorised operators do not have a traceable operational base within the state in case of emergencies or safety concerns.
Highlighting the importance of the safety of lives and property in the metropolis, the commissioner declared that only eight out of the several e-hailing operators are registered and recognized by the state government.
He further mentioned; Lagos Ride, Uber, Bolt, Let Me Run, Global Taxi, Zoom Run, Treepz (Plenty Waka) and Shuttlers as the lawful e-hailing operators recognised and licensed to operate in Lagos by the Lagos State government, while In-drivers, Rida, and others are not licensed, urging anyone transacting business with them to be wary.
While assuring that the state government will soon commence a clampdown on the violating operators, the transport commissioner enjoined the citizenry to collaborate by reporting any e-Hailing operators different from the ones listed above to the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation.
He maintained that the state government will not relent in its effort to make Lagos State safe for all.
Food Crisis Risks ‘Messy’ Migration Wave Into Europe, EU Warns - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- The war in Ukraine risks sparking a food shortage crisis that would trigger a major migration wave into Europe from Africa and the Middle East, the EU’s migration chief said.
European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said severe shortages would lead people looking for food to head north in a much more chaotic fashion than the migration of millions of Ukrainians sparked by the initial invasion.
A hunger-driven migration is “not going to be so manageable, it’s going to be more messy,” Schinas said in an interview with Bloomberg on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He pointed to the prospect of migrants trying to make their way by boat, adding, “We have a global interest in in avoiding this.”
The European Union had been planning for major migration waves at the start of the pandemic and following the U.S. exit from Afghanistan but those didn’t come to pass.
Schinas said unblocking the ports in Ukraine, where 20 million tons of wheat are stuck, wouldn’t solve the problem but would send a positive signal to markets and start to ease the broader crisis.
Schinas also said he expects the 2.7 million Ukrainian refugees registered under an EU protection scheme to stay in the bloc. So far, he said he hasn’t seen an uptick in support for far-right political parties, as was the case after the migration crisis in 2015, when more than a million refugees fled the war in Syria.
Population of Nigerian Students in UK Rises By 64% in One Year - PREMIUM TIMES
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Nigeria also has the highest number of African students in the United States, with 12,860 students enrolled in the 2020/2021 academic year.
The number of Nigerians studying in the United Kingdom (UK) has risen from 13,020 in the 2019/2020 academic session to 21,305 by the 2020/2021 session.
The figure, which amounts to an almost 64 per cent increase within a year, is confirmed by data from the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The UK has also witnessed a 13.08 per cent increase in the international student enrolment at the postgraduate level between 2019/20 and 2020/21.
The country currently houses 605,130 students in the 2020/2021 session, up from 556,625 in the previous academic session.
Alma Miftari, a representative of Erudera, a higher education search platform, believes that the ‘unprecedented’ rise in the number of Nigerian students in the UK is due to the prestigious reputation of UK universities, their history, quality education, and the multicultural environment they offer.
She said: “The UK is the second most popular study destination in the world, counting 605,130 international students by the last academic year, the highest it ever had. The reputation of universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and the UK higher education system continues to engross ambitious people who want to make a bigger impact”
Right after the UK, the top other countries Nigerians choose are The United States, Canada, Malaysia, Ukraine, South Africa, and Germany.
However, the United Kingdom remained the world’s second most popular study destination among international students, just after the US, with 605,130 international students during the 2020/2021 academic session.
Although the UK and the United States (US) are destination choices for many Nigerian students, the US witnessed a decrease in enrolment this year as a result of COVID19 vaccination protocols.
Nigerian students in the UK
The number of Nigerian students in the UK has always been on the increase, but the latest increase rate is unprecedented.
For instance, the number rose from 10,685 in the 2017/18 session to 10,810 in 2018/19 and 13,020 in 2019/20 before 21,305 students during the 2020/21 academic sessions.
The data also revealed that Nigeria is the third non-EU country with the most students in the UK with 21,305 students currently enrolled in UK institutions, ahead of the United States with 19,220 students.
China and India with 143,820 and 84,555 students respectively have the highest number of students in the UK.
Right after Nigeria, other African countries with high number of students in the UK by the last academic year are Egypt (3,260), Ghana (2,795), Kenya (2,640), South Africa (2,060), and Morocco (1,265).
According to the data, over 21,000 Nigerians are settled majorly across England (16,980) Scotland (2,655) Wales (935) Northern Ireland (740).
Right after the UK, the top other countries Nigerian choose are The United States, Canada, Malaysia, Ukraine, South Africa, Germany, etc.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Nigeria has the highest number of African students in the U.S., with 12,860 students enrolled in the 2020/2021 academic year.
This is despite a 6.6 per cent decrease from 13,762 students in the previous 2019/2020 academic year, resulting from the stringent COVID19 vaccination protocols in the US at the beginning of the year.
According to Erudera, the three top subjects of study for international students in the UK were Business and Management, Engineering and Technology, and Social Sciences.
Erudera noted that the largest number of international students in the UK study Business and Management (177,715). Engineering and Technology is the second most chosen subject of study for international students in the UK with 63,375 students.
Social Sciences and Computing rank third and fourth respectively in the number of international students enrolled in such disciplines.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.
Insecurity: Abuja-Kaduna Flight Tickets Sell For Over N100,000 - DAILY TRUST
As the Kaduna International Airport reopened for operation after two months of shutdown, passengers now battle with the over N100,000 per ticket for flights between Abuja and Kaduna.
The airport was closed after a terrorist attack on March 28 at the international airport resulting in the death of a security guard.
The Abuja-Kaduna train service which provided relief was also attacked with several victims still in captivity just as the Abuja-Kaduna road has been reported to be under attack.
Daily Trust reports that Azman Air resumed flight on Monday from the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos with 42 passengers.
However, some joined the airline from Abuja to Lagos and then connected the flight to Kaduna. This made their trip two-legged, costing between N100,000 and N125,000.
Checks on the website of Azman Air yesterday indicated that a Kaduna flight from Lagos on Friday (today) costs N75,000 for a one-way ticket. For any passenger flying to Lagos to connect Kaduna from Abuja, he would have to pay an extra N50,000 or more to Lagos before flying to Kaduna.
A source said the reopening of the Kaduna Airport was facilitated by the state government through a committee raised to assess the transportation situation.
“The traders specifically made a case to the state government that bringing their goods to the state has been very difficult in view of the closure of the airport and the train service. So, you can be sure people were ready to pay even if it would cost almost N150,000 just to avoid the Abuja-Kaduna highway,” the source said.
Executive Director, Zenith Travels and Consult, Mr. Olumide Ohuanyo, said there was nothing unusual about the cost.
He said, “The air fare is deregulated. Airlines are at liberty to fix any fare. They just have to file notification to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. With that, it is easier for the airlines and the passengers to determine their fares using the forces of demand and supply.
“Presently, Kaduna is one of the most dangerous cities to go into by land, either by road, rail or if there is water transportation. So, it is a hot cake. Tickets are programmed in such a way that they increase as demand increases,” he noted.
Here are the 5 worst cities to live in Africa, according to Economist Intelligence Unit report - BUSINESS INSIDER
BY VICTOR OLUWOLE
Harare, Zimbabwe and Lagos, Nigeria are some of the cities that ranked poorly in this latest report.
The report by Economist Intelligence Unit ranks the most livable cities across the globe as well as the least liveable cities.
Lagos in Nigeria makes the list as the worst city to live in.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has released the list of 10 most livable cities across the globe as well as the world's 10 least liveable cities.
As in previous surveys, the report noted that living conditions in Lagos, Nigeria; Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea; and Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh are among the worst in the world.
Its report , "The Global Liveability Index 2021," uses the combination of five factors to rate the livability of all the cities across the globe.
The first three factors are: Stability (level of crime and conflict), Healthcare (presence and quality of healthcare) as well as Environmental/Cultural factors (climate, religious restrictions, food and drinks).
Others are: Education (quality and availability of private or public education), and infrastructure (quality of roads, public transport, provision of water, housing, energy and telecommunications).
“A consistently low stability score, owing to ongoing civil unrest and military conflicts, is the reason behind most of these cities featuring in the bottom ten. However, conditions have deteriorated even further as a result of Covid-19—particularly for healthcare,” the report stated.
Of the top 10 least liveable cities, five can be found in Africa. Below is the liveability rating for these African cities:
1. Lagos, Nigeria is ranked as the least liveable city in Africa
Lagos ranked one of the worst cities in the world. (Business Insider Africa)
Culture and Environment: 41.0
2. Algiers, Algeria
Algerians play football in Algiers' Bab el-Oued neighbourhood, which is historically known to be a predominantly pro-Mouloudia Club Alger (MCA) area
Culture and Environment: 37.3
3. Tripoli, Libya
Soldiers loyal to Libya's UN-backed government in Sirte, east of Tripoli on October 14, 2016, during their military operation to clear Islamic State group jihadists from the city
Culture and Environment: 33.8
4. Harare, Zimbabwe
Working clarr residents in the Harare suburb of Glen view rely on water pumped from boreholes drilled by a donor or city authorities.
Culture and Environment: 44.4
5. Douala, Cameroon
9. Douala, Cameroon — 44/100 points. The city's healthcare scored particularly low, with just 25 points.
Culture and Environment: 40.3