Travel News

Air fares to rise further as foreign airlines FX rate hit N634/$ - BUSINESSDAY

MAY 10, 2023

Foriegn airlines operating in Nigeria have again raised Rate of Exchange, (RoE) from N610 per dollar to N634 per dollar.

The implication of moving the airline FX rate to N634 per dollar implies that passengers would be paying more for international fares.

The development follows the rising of foreign airlines’ trapped funds which have now surpassed $800million.

Airlines trapped funds in Nigeria saw a sharp rise from $744million in March to $802 million in April despite several means deployed to avoid collection of their funds in naira, so as to reduce the amount of money trapped in Nigeria.

It was also gathered that the rate has risen three times in three months. In March 2023, the rate was increased from N460/$ to N551/$ and also in April to N610/$. In May it has risen to N634 per dollar.

Bankole Bernard, chairman of Airlines and Passengers’ Joint Committee (APJC) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) who confirmed the rise said the N634 new rate is slightly lower than the black market rate.

NIS Blames Scarcity of Passport Booklet on FX Scarcity - THISDAY

MAY 10, 2023

BY  Udora Orizu in Abuja

The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has blamed the scarcity of passport booklet on the country’s policy on foreign exchange (FX).

The Comptroller-General (CG) of the service, Idris Jere, made this known at a public hearing organised by an Ad hoc Committee of the House of Representatives in Abuja, yesterday.

The committee was setup by the House to investigate the proposed domestication and processing of Nigerian international passport.

Addressing the lawmakers, the CG said the NIS generates FX from sale of passport abroad, but does not have access to FX to import booklets despite the funds generated.

He said Iris Smart Technology Ltd, the foreign company responsible for producing the passport has done very well given the conditions.

He also said that the presidential directive to commence production of passport locally by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) was a welcome development.

He, however, recommended that a proper exit plan be put in place for a smooth handover from Iris Smart Tech to prevent any breach of contract and production process.

“Foreign exchange regulation policy of the government and CBN’s refusal to grant access to FX for importation of the passport booklet. We generate forex from sale of passport, but we do not have access to buy same booklet and that is a challenge for NIS.

“The factors responsible for scarcity of passport include the inability to setup passport producing factory in Nigeria as its production is done abroad.

“The major seven component used for producing passports are sold in international market and the assemblage and production are done in Malaysia.

“This makes the production process solely dependent on FX and the scarcity of FX due to the fall in naira value is of major concern,” the CG said.

On his part, the Managing Director of Iris Smart Technology Ltd , Mr. Yinker Fisher, told the lawmakers that before the advent of the e-passport system, the Nigerian passport was marred with embarrassing irregularities and inconsistency under the watch of NSPM.

According to him, as a result of lack of capacity, NSPM outsourced the process to three companies which led to so many irregularities including passport colour and numbers.

He said under the administration of Iris Smart Technology Ltd, Nigerian passport was now regarded as one of the best in the international community.

The managing director said human factor in the process of producing passport is highly limited saying that even passport approval is granted by biometric.

He, however, alleged that there were plots by companies who lost the contract to produce the Nigerian passport at the bidding stage and some people on the corridor of power to thwart production by Iris Smart Tech.

Rano Air Launches Operations In Kano - DAILY TRUST

MAY 10, 2023

A new indigenous airline company, Rano Air, has flagged off its flight operations in Kano State with five aircraft to fly from Kano to Abuja…

    By      Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu

A new indigenous airline company, Rano Air, has flagged off its flight operations in Kano State with five aircraft to fly from Kano to Abuja to Lagos and other destinations within Nigeria.

The airline company, owned by Kano-born petroleum mogul, Auwalu Abdullahi Rano, popularly known as AA Rano, came into being after three years of preparation.

Speaking at the grand flag off ceremony at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), the Project Director of the airline, Barr Usman Mohammad Oloje, disclosed that the project started in 2020.

Oloje explained that in 2020, when AA Rano, who is the Chairman of the Rano Group of Companies, developed the idea of establishing an airline business and instructed him (Oloje) to incorporate and register an airline with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and facilitate its formation and operations.

He said, “Alhamdulillah! All the five aircraft have been fully maintained with the very high standards set by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and in compliance with ICAO and other international civil aviation monitoring organisations and regulations and have been passed by NCAA for use by the public.”

He assured Nigerians of quality service and commitment to excellence and convenience, saying, “Rano Air will treat Nigerians like royalty in fulfillment of its desire to create a new and exciting flying experience, as Nigerians will in no distant future be able to fly directly without a stopover from Kano, Abuja and Lagos to all the viable airports in Nigeria in comfort and on schedule.”

In his remarks, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said the establishment of the airline was history repeating itself as the first aircraft in Nigeria landed in Kano State.

The governor said the airline would be a viable business that would boost commercial activities of Kano and by extension Northern states.

Earlier, Alhaji AA Rano expressed gratitude to Allah for making the business come to fruition.

He thanked Ganduje and his administration for their support towards the success of the company.

United Nigeria Eyes Regional Flights After IATA Safety Audit - DAILY TRUST

MAY 10, 2023

United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), one of the nation’s domestic airlines, has officially joined the league of airlines on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational…

United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), one of the nation’s domestic airlines, has officially joined the league of airlines on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry.

IATA yesterday presented the certificate to the airline at a ceremony held in its office in Lagos.

With the presentation to the UNA, the number of airlines on the IOSA registry has increased to six in Nigeria.

IATA Manager for West and Central Africa, Dr Samson Fatokun, who presented the certificate said UNA can be said to adhere to the best safety standards by any mega carrier of the world.

“This is the same standard that other big carriers have. It means you are on the same level as them. It is always a great opportunity for us at IATA to present IOSA to any airline. In less than two years of operations, you are already on the register.

“What this means is that said you adhere to the best global safety standards. This is good and you should be proud of yourself.

“We have very few airlines in West and CA on the register and you are one of those few. We hope you would be able to sustain that.

The Chief Operating Officer of UNA, Mazi Osita Okonkwo, said the journey to be on IOSA started six months ago with rigorous processes and procedures which eventually yielded results.

“It opened our eyes to so many things. We thank our team that worked for so many hours, days and months to get to where we are.”

He said it was the determination of the management of the airline under the chairmanship of Prof. Obiorah Okonkwo to be on the IOSA register in less than two years of operations.

This is one step towards our long-term objective. We have plans of going regional and international and being on IATA register is a requirement. We are happy and we want you to watch this space as we make further announcements in weeks to come.”

International airfares skyrocket as exchange rate jumps by 38% - PUNCH

MAY 11, 2023

BY Oyetunji Abioye and Funmi Fabunmi

nternational airfares on Nigeria routes to various global destinations have skyrocketed again as the International Air Transport Association’s exchange rate for ticket sales has risen by 37.5 per cent above the official rate.

The PUNCH findings confirmed on Wednesday that IATA, the global trade association for world airlines, had approved the sale of flight tickets in Nigeria at N634/dollar.

This is about N173 or 37.5 per cent above the Central Bank of Nigeria’s official exchange rate pegged at N461.06 as of 6:31 Wednesday.

Following the latest increase in the IATA exchange rate, travel agencies and international airlines operating in Nigeria have adjusted the exchange rate for ticket sales.

The development has led to significant increases in airfares ahead of the peak summer travel season which has gained momentum.

Already, Nigerian travellers have been grappling with high airfares worsened by the inability of foreign airlines to repatriate their ticket sale proceeds out of Nigeria due to a shortage of dollars from the CBN

International airlines in Nigeria have closed their low-price ticket inventory in order to cushion the effect of blocked funds put at $802m as of April.

A few months ago, foreign airlines sold tickets at N444/dollar in line with the CBN official exchange rate. However, in recent weeks, IATA has reviewed the exchange rate for ticket sale in Nigeria to N462/dollar, N551/dollar, N582/dollar, N610/dollar and currently N634/dollar even though the CBN official exchange rate has remained around N461/dollar

The increases in the IATA exchange rate have led to a commensurate jump in airfares on the Nigerian route.

IATA officials justified the exchange rate increases, saying they were in line with the spot rates the CBN has been selling foreign exchange to foreign airlines in Nigeria for the repatriation of their ticket sale proceeds.

Foreign airlines submit FX bids to the CBN through their respective commercial banks every fortnight.

“The increases in the IATA exchange rate are in line with the changes in the CBN exchange rates for airlines. The airlines are just matching the rate at which the CBN is selling the dollar to them. It is not a unilateral change from the airlines,” an IATA official who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The PUNCH.

“You can also check with the banks the rate at which CBN sold USD at the last retail auction for spot bids. We got the results today from the banks. If you check you will see that the airlines are even matching the lowest point on the spot rate in order to reduce the increase in airfares,” the official added.

Meanwhile, findings show that despite the significant increases in the IATA exchange rate, the amount of trapped funds in Nigeria has yet to reduce.

“The CBN is not reducing the backlog of trapped, even at this increasing exchange rate. Airlines have been receiving less than 25 per cent of their bids. Thus, the unabated increase in the backlog of airlines trapped funds in Nigeria,” an airline official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a possible government backlash, said.

The President of the National Association of Travel Agents of Nigeria, Susan Akporiaye, while reacting to the current development, expressed disappointment lamenting that passengers would suffer the most from the increment.

Aporiaye said, “Fares will definitely increase and passengers have to pay more. As a result, Passengers won’t travel as much as they should and this will affect travel agents.”

Also, a former Director of General Aviation of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Dele Sasegbon, said, “Foreign airlines sell tickets just that some of their funds are trapped here but as far as tickets are concerned they’re going to be more expensive. All the foreign airlines want is to get their money out of Nigeria which Nigeria is making it difficult for them. As for the passengers, the best thing is not to go anywhere and wait for things to get better or if you can afford it, then fly.”

In March, the IATA Area Manager West and Central Africa, Dr Samson Fatokun , in a letter to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines operating in the country had risen by 12.39 per cent to $743,721,097 in January 2023 from $662m in the corresponding period last year.

“For over a year, Nigeria has been the country with the highest amount of airline-blocked funds in the world. Please find attached the comparative table of airlines’ blocked funds by country.

“Moreover, as of January 2023, airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria have increased to $743.721.092 from $662m in January 2022 and $549m in December 2022,” the letter read in part.

However, about a month later, Sirika, in a meeting with the IATA team, foreign airlines and travel agents assured the foreign operators that he would take the issue up with the Presidency and the CBN.

Mercedes pay+ Turns Car into Payment Device - THISDAY

MAY 13, 2023

BY  Bennett  Oghifo

Since March, Mercedes-Benz customers in Germany are able to authenticate payments via an in-car fingerprint sensor. 

According to the automaker, with the new digital payment service Mercedes pay+, Mercedes-Benz introduces native in-car payments. With native in-car payments, the vehicle itself now enables biometric two-factor authentication[3] in conjunction with the fingerprint sensor. It is no longer necessary to type in a PIN on the MBUX infotainment system or to use an additional mobile device such as a smartphone to verify a payment in the car. Instead, the car itself turns into a payment device. The first Mercedes-Benz models available with fingerprint sensors are the EQS and EQE series, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and C-Class, and the new GLC. Mercedes-Benz is the first car manufacturer worldwide to integrate Visa’s Delegated Authentication and Cloud Token Framework technology to enable native in-car payments. Visa Cloud Tokens provide an additional layer of security as they help to protect and encrypt sensitive payment information by converting data and storing it securely.

Upgrade of digital services and on-demand functions with one touch

Customers can use native in-car payment to pay for digital services that allow a more convenient and entertaining driving experience. They can activate and subscribe to these digital services from the car’s MBUX infotainment system and authorise the payment transaction with their fingerprint. Examples of these digital services are connectivity apps that control comfort functions of the car, such as pre-air conditioning of the vehicle via a mobile device. Upgrades to the vehicle software can easily be activated and paid for via fingerprint, like, for example, advanced navigation services that provide information on the weather or available parking spaces at customer’s destination.

In addition, the Mercedes me Store offers the ability to unlock pre-installed hardware components easily on-demand by fingerprint in the car. For example, a vehicle owner can subscribe to the Remote Parking Assist, a service to park the vehicle remotely with a smartphone, or activate and pay for the Adaptive Highbeam Assist or the Rear Axle Steering with larger steering angle with only one touch.

The portfolio of digital services and on-demand features in the Mercedes me Store is constantly expanding, offering customers the opportunity to personalise their vehicles further even after the purchase. This is of interest, for example, to the second or third owners of a vehicle as it gives them the opportunity to adapt pre-owned vehicles to personal needs and desires.

Cardholders with an eligible[4] Visa credit or debit card can use native in-car payment by linking their card with their Mercedes me user account and activating Mercedes pay+ in the vehicle via MBUX. Subsequently, more card systems will be added and enabled for Mercedes pay+. 

Mercedes-Benz plans to launch Mercedes pay+ in other European markets in 2023.

Paying for car-related services will become even easier and more convenient

The option of native in-car payments will be expanded to other car-related services, such as fuelling. Mercedes-Benz drivers in Germany and other markets can already pay for fuelling directly from the car via the Mercedes me app and a smartphone or via the MBUX infotainment system using a PIN. The introduction of native in-car payments and the easy payment authorisation by fingerprint in the car will make this process more seamless and convenient later this year.

Mercedes-Benz already offers payment for charging of electric vehicles for years via the Mercedes me connect service Mercedes me Charge[5]. At the charging station, authentication takes place via the display in the MBUX multimedia system, the Mercedes me App, the Mercedes me Charge card or directly via Plug & Charge[6].

“Mercedes-Benz becomes a software-driven company that provides a digital, seamless experience to customers. Therefore, our digital services have to be intuitive, convenient and secure. This is why we have established Mercedes pay+ as a modern and secure payment solution. As such, we are creating a completely new, enhanced customer experience. By introducing native e-commerce into the car, we are once again pioneers and at the beginning of a promising development.”

Franz Reiner, CEO at Mercedes-Benz Mobility

In future Mercedes-Benz Leasing Deutschland will enable money transfers in the Mercedes-Benz ecosystem for the German market as a licensed entity, including payments made in the car.

Global transaction volume for in-vehicle payments expected to exceed 4.7 billion by 2026

A study by Juniper Research[7] revealed that the global transaction volume of in-vehicle payments will be expected to reach more than 4.7 billion by 2026. Paying for fuel will be the most common use for in-vehicle payments over the next five years; accounting for around 48 percent of total in-vehicle payment transactions by volume. This growth is regarded as the next step in a natural progress of payment methods regarding fuel purchases, which evolved from cash to card, then to smartphone payments, and now to in-car payments.

Customers consider increased convenience and ease in their daily life as the greatest advantage of in-car payments, as the current international market study “Global Trends in Automotive & Financial Services 2022“[8] shows. More than half of the potential users in Germany see in-car payment as a brand’s significant competitive advantage compared to other market participants.

“Innovating with partners, Visa can unlock the possibilities that connected devices might bring to commerce. Making your car a secure and fully authenticated payment device brings new ways to enhance journeys and looking ahead, we can imagine many moments where in-car payments could smoothen the driver experience. Visa brings its technology and expertise in Germany and worldwide to make payments reliable, secure and convenient as this and many other new ways to pay become a reality.”

Albrecht Kiel, Regional Managing Director, Central Europe, at Visa

About Mercedes pay: The native in-car payment service Mercedes pay+ is powered by Mercedes pay GmbH, a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG. Mercedes pay GmbH developed an in-house platform for providing the technical connection to payment services and enables payment processes within the Mercedes-Benz Group, for example, for Mercedes me services, after sales and via the online vehicle store.

[1]To use the Mercedes me connect services, customers must create a Mercedes me ID and agree to the Terms of Use for the Mercedes me connect services. The services displayed and their availability and functionalities depend in particular on the vehicle model, year of manufacture, selected optional equipment and country.

Who’s to blame for passport scarcity? - THE NATION

MAY 13, 2023

Nigeria international passport, ordinarily an essential commodity for Nigerians at home and the diaspora at large has become so scarce these days such that both old and fresh applicants have to wait in perpetuity to get it, reports IBRAHIM APEKHADE YUSUF

If your international passport has long expired chances are that you can’t easily get it renewed and if you’re a fresh applicant, there’s no luck either!”

That was the damning verdict given by Olusola Bello (not real name), a retired high school teacher, who has been waiting to get his international passport out of the Alausa Passport office in the past five months without success.

Sharing his experience, Bello, in his mid-60s, spoke of the humiliation he has had to endure in the hands of Nigeria Immigration Service officials, who according to him, created artificial scarcity so as to force unsuspecting members of the public to either grease their palms or not make any headway at all.

How the ordeal began

According to Bello, his international passport expired in December 2021, and when he sought to renew it in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown and restrictions made it impossible at the time.

Fast forward to September 2022, when he made fresh attempts to obtain it, he was told he had to apply online. Pronto, he completed the online registration and was expected to be placed on appointment. On his appointed date, almost in mid-December last year, he visited the Alausa Passport office but was told his name wasn’t in the system. He left disappointed. He resumed again last March and in fact met a fellow who also came to file his application at the same passport office whose document was ready for delivery.

Livid with rage, Bello informed our correspondent that he had accosted the lucky applicant who later confided in him that he was ‘assisted’ by one of the officials through whom he completed the registration process in a record time and got his international passport in less than two months.

There are many members of the public in the same dilemma as Bello, who have no inkling whatsoever how they can obtain their travel document with little or no stress.

When our correspondent visited the Alimosho Passport office at Sobo Busstop, along Akowonjo road, Lagos, last Thursday and Friday, there were hordes of crowd seated outside under the scorching sun with others in their numbers within the premises, most of who grew impatient having endured long hours of waiting for their turns on the queues to end.

Attempts to speak with the Public Relations and Passport Controller were futile as officials who spoke with our correspondent said they were not readily available.

Miffed by what they described as the uncooperative attitude of some of the officials, some of the applicants who either came for a renewal or fresh passport were really pissed.

A middle-age man, unable to take it anymore, literally lost his cool. “Look, I’m the CEO of my own company. I can’t come here and be treated like some unknown quantity. I won’t take it.”

That singular outburst literally added fuel to the already ignited fire as many others emboldened by him began a shouting match such that it took a yeoman’s efforts to control the surging crowd.

The official who obviously masked his disappointment with the unfolding scenario quickly shooed me towards the office of the Special Adviser to the Passport Controller, one Olatunde, who was obviously standoffish.

When yours truly informed him about the mission to the office, he looked up from his desk and said, “Mr. Man, you can see everywhere it is calm here, there is no problem.”

Asked to see the boss around or anyone else who could speak on the challenges or progress report at the Passport office, the aide said no one was available as a proper appointment was required to get them to respond to enquiries.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that as part of efforts to address the delay in the issuance of passports, the Service launched the enhanced e-passport with other improved features.

The enhanced e-passport is a great improvement on the biometric passport technology adopted in 2007.

An official of the NIS, who asked not to be named because he is not authorised to speak with the press, confirmed that the Service has been working hard to ensure full compliance with the three-week duration for renewal and six-week waiting period for fresh applications.

“The waiting period is for us to validate the addresses provided by the applicants. So, Nigerians should not forget that they have six months to renew their passports. They should not wait till it expires, and of course, if there are other emergencies, and there is a window for them.”

Accordingly, he said applicants not conversant with the passport acquisition procedure can seek assistance from either the Help Desk or Customer Service Unit for appropriate guidance.

The NIS has calibrated its processing and issuance procedures to eliminate third party transactions, which often escalates the cost of procuring passports.

CBN takes the blame
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has blamed the scarcity of international passport booklets on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy on forex.

The Comptroller-General of the Service, Mr. Idris Jere, said this at a public hearing organised by an ad hoc Committee of the House of Representatives in Abuja.

The NIS claim comes barely a week after the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said that the NIS has never experienced a scarcity of passport booklets.

According to him, such a claim is “a lie and an excuse by a few corrupt officials of the service to extort the applicants.”

Contradicting the Minister’s words, the NIS DG said the foreign exchange regulation policy of the government and the CBN’s refusal to grant access to forex for the importation of the passport booklets are causing the scarcity, thereby delaying the process of issuance and renewal of the document.

Challenges facing NIS
Speaking on the factors causing the delay in the issuance and renewal of international passports, the NIS boss said: “We generate forex from the sale of passports, but we do not have access to buy the same booklet, and that is a challenge for NIS.

“The factors responsible for the scarcity of passports include the inability to set up passport-producing factories in Nigeria as its production is done abroad.

“The major seven components used for producing passports are sold in the international market, and the assemblage and production are done in Malaysia.”

He said that Irris Smart Technology Ltd., the foreign company responsible for producing the passport, had done well given the conditions.

He added that the presidential directive to commence the production of passports locally by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) was a welcome development. He, however, recommended that a proper exit plan be put in place for a smooth handover from Irris Smart Tech to prevent any breach of contract or production process.

Earlier, the Managing Director of Irris Smart Technology Ltd., Mr. Yinker Fisher, said that before the advent of the e-passport system, the Nigerian passport was marred with embarrassing irregularities and inconsistencies under the watch of NSPM.

According to him, as a result of lack of capacity, NSPM outsourced the process to three companies, which led to so many irregularities, including passport colour and numbers.

While making strong recommendations for Iris Technologies, Dr. Sule Ya’u Sule, Bayero University, Kano, recalled that since the outsourcing of the production of Nigeria’s e-passport to a highly qualified, competent, and engaged private company, Iris Smart Technologies Limited, the problems associated with the issuance and administration of Nigeria’s passport have become a thing of the past.

“This Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in passport production and administration has become a reference point in the synergy of the public and private sectors and a foretaste of what is to come. Without investing money into passport production, the federal government earned over $290m and N80b from this passport project in revenue. This sum is expected to rise as more Nigerians apply and receive new passports.”

Iris Technologies has shown that Government Projects can be conceptualized and executed by a team of professionals. They identify a problem, brainstorm on it, and jobs are completed faster and better. They can withstand pressure and still deliver on the agreed timeline.

Minister passing the bulk
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior last week said that the efforts of the NIS at sanitising the process and bringing integrity to passport applications are being sabotaged by a ‘few’ corrupt officials of the NIS.

Explaining why there have been delays in the process of issuing the Nigerian passport, Aregbesola said, “One of the challenges facing NIS as regards passport applications are the few corrupt officials of the service who are undermining the efforts of the service at sanitising the process and bringing integrity to passport applications.

“These unscrupulous people are making the situation difficult by the day; if people do not tolerate them, they will not exist again. They are the ones spreading the rumor that there are no booklets in order to continue to extort the applicants.

“We did not have a shortage of booklets at any given time; we have enough booklets to meet the needs of the people. There are more than enough booklets in our production schedule.”

He, however, appealed to Nigerians to stop patronising the touts and report any NIS officials manipulating applicants for money.

Reps to the rescue
The House of Representatives had a few weeks ago commenced an investigation into the proposed domestication and processing of the Nigeria International Passports.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Hafiz Kawu, said that the investigative hearing followed a resolution of the House to investigate a company, IRIS Technology Limited that was awarded a contract to produce twenty million booklets of the passports.

Mr. Kawu said the investigation was to unravel the root cause of the scarcity of passport booklets in Nigeria.

In a remark, the Comptroller General of Immigration, Mr. Idris Jere, who said that to bridge the booklet gap, zonal offices were created across Nigeria and abroad, explained that the scarcity of passport booklets was as a result of scarcity of forex.

He said the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) would welcome any suggestions that will end the issue of passport booklets scarcity.

Responding, the Managing Director of IRIS Technology Limited, Mr. Yinka Fisher told the committee that the company was given the contract to produce twenty million booklets and has produced six million so far.

He alleged that the Nigeria Security and Mint and the Central Bank of Nigeria were sabotaging the company’s effort leading to scarcity of passport booklets.

No increase in Hajj fare, NAHCON tells intending pilgrims - PUNCH

MAY 13, 2023

By Friday Olokor

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria on Saturday assured intending pilgrims for the 2023 Hajj that there would not be further changes on the fare paid.

A statement by the Deputy Director of Information, Mousa Ubandawak, said the Chairman/CEO of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, said this in Abuja during the opening ceremony of a one-day workshop organised in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

He said that training and capacity building for pilgrims groups and leaders were part of the initiative to train Nigerian Hajj managers on crowd control and management communication skills, information and awareness campaigns.

The chairman said that despite the $250 increment imposed by the air carriers, the commission will not impose the extra cost on the pilgrims.

“It is true that the air carriers have increased the charges by $250 because of the closure of the Sudanese airspace, though we are still consulting to find an avenue to address the increase. However, whatever decision that we may arrive at, it won’t impact or require the pilgrims to pay additional charges,” he said.

The chairman also expressed dismay at the additional $63 charges for camp and electronic applications in visa processing cost by the Ministry of Hajj contrary to what had earlier been agreed by the two parties that there would not be any extra cost at the pre-Hajj meeting.

“Though we have written to protest this and we are hoping for a positive response despite that we have borne the cost without transferring same to the pilgrim,” Zikrullah said.

Zikrullah however prayed for the peaceful resolution of the Sudan crisis to save the lives of the innocent Sudanese.

He urged all feuding parties to stealth their swords in the interest of Islam, the innocent pilgrims and the country.

Zikrullah also urged participants at the workshop to take the training seriously stressing that the workshop has the potential to impact positively the success of this year’s Hajj.

Nigeria’s Oil Production Crashes To .9m Barrels Daily As Angola Leads Africa - DAILY TRUST

MAY 13, 2023

Oil production figures for Nigeria crashed to an average of 999,000 (0.999 million) voluntary production level in barrels per day (bpd) in April, just as…

    By Simon Echewofun Sunday

Oil production figures for Nigeria crashed to an average of 999,000 (0.999 million) voluntary production level in barrels per day (bpd) in April, just as Angola overtook Nigeria and led Africa with 1.063mbpd oil production in the month.

This is according to the April Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) released on Thursday.

Data obtained by OPEC through direct communication with the member countries, indicated that Angola’s oil production at 1.063mbpd overtook Nigeria’s production figure, which stood at 999,000bpd in April, the same level with Algeria’s oil production in the month.

Nigeria lost 270,000bpd of oil compared to its 1.268mbpd production figure in March, the OPEC data revealed.

  • However, the OPEC data obtained from secondary sources show that Nigeria’s production figure was 1.180mbpd, which was higher than that of Angola at 1.085mbpd.

    Daily Trust Saturday further confirmed the oil production drop based on the oil production status for April released by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).

    While the total liquid production was 1.245mbpd in April, the actual crude oil produced was 998,602bpd. Blended condensate was 66,317bpd, while unblended condensate was 180,110bpd.

    The highest crude oil produced in the four months of this year was 1.306mbpd recorded in February 2023. The figure grew from 1.258mbpd in January; by March, it dropped to 1.268mbpd and further plunged to the 998,602bpd recorded in April, the NUPRC stated.

    In terms of whole liquid production, February saw the highest production of 1.547mbpd after rising from 1.494mbpd in January before dropping slightly to 1.517mbpd in March and then 1.245mbpd in April.

    Just on Wednesday, the Commission Chief Executive (CCE) of NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, said challenges that include insecurity, energy theft in Nigeria’s oil-producing communities, along with low investment, had stalled the production of about one million barrels of crude oil daily.

    He gave the indication that Nigeria produced 1.5mbpd of oil.

  • Dominica citizenship for Nigerians: What do you need to know - THE CABLE

    MAY 15, 2023

    Dominica citizenship offers Nigerians such opportunities as visa-free travel, building business, and the creation of a safe haven.

    The country’s passport can be obtained in several months if a Nigerian decides to participate in the citizenship by investment program. In this case, they don’t need to pass exams or live on the island for years. The only requirement is to invest in the country’s economy.

    The Immigrant Invest expert explains how a Nigerian can obtain Dominica citizenship.

    Advantages of Dominica citizenship for Nigerians

    With Dominica citizenship you acquire several benefits. Let’s look at some of them.

    Visa-free travels. A Nigerian passport allows you to visit 46 countries without visas. The Dominica one opens an opportunity to travel to over countries visa-free. Among these states are China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, and the Schengen countries.

    With dual Nigeria-Dominica citizenship, you don’t need to go through the tedious visa application process in most cases. Thus, you won’t also need to spend money on any processing fees.

    A 10-year visa to the USA. Dominica passport holders can apply for a B-1/B-2 visa to the USA and obtain it for 10 years at once. With Nigerian citizenship, you can only apply for a 5-year visa.

    The B-1/B-2 visa gives you a right to stay in the US for up to 6 months a year and travel or arrange business trips there. However, you are not allowed to work or study in the country for a long period.

    Tax benefits. Dominica has a very attractive tax system. For example, there are no taxes on capital gains or inheritance. Rates of other taxes are lower than in many other countries.

    At the same time, you only pay taxes if you live in Dominica, earn money, or own real estate there. In other cases, you may be exempt from them.

    More opportunities for business. The Dominica passport holder can run a business there or invest in sectors of the country’s economy.

    With the country’s passport, you can also open an account in a reliable bank and make international transactions. Our client Hasan acquired Dominica citizenship and then opened bank accounts in European banks to run their business.

    Visiting Dominica and living there. Dominica is a beautiful place with fantastic views and landscapes. Its passport allows you to visit the country anytime and stay there for as long as you want.

    You can also create a safe haven there which is especially useful in case of any instabilities happening in Nigeria.

    Requirements for the applicants

    The fastest way to become a Dominica citizen is by investment — the whole procedure takes several months. Every step can be done remotely.

    To be eligible the investor must meet several requirements:

    • be over 18;
    • have no criminal record or prosecutions;
    • have sufficient income and financial stability;
    • be able to confirm the legality of the income;
    • have good health and no serious diseases.

    The investor can also add their close family members to the application. That includes a spouse, children under 30, and parents over 65. Children over 18 and parents must be financially dependent on the investor.

    Investment options for Dominica citizenship

    Dominica offers two investment options and the investor can choose any of them. These options are a non-refundable contribution to the state fund and the purchase of a share of real estate.

    A non-refundable contribution requires you to donate money to the Dominica Economic Diversification Fund.

    The minimum amount of money depends on the composition of the family. The sums are the following:

    • $100,000 — for a single applicant;
    • $150,000 — for a married couple;
    • $175,000 — for a family of four.

    If the family consists of more than four members one needs to pay additional money: $25,000 for a child under 18, and $50,000 for an adult person.

    The real estate investment option obliges you to buy a share in a property for $200,000+. The project must be government-approved.

    This investment option is refundable: you can sell the property 3 years after if the buyer is not participating in the citizenship by investment program, and in 5 years if participates.

    When purchasing real estate in Dominica you need to pay the government fees. Their amount depends on the number of applicants:

    • $25,000 — for a single applicant;
    • $35,000 — for a family of up to four members;
    • $50,000 — for a family of up to six members;
    • $25,000 — for any additional dependant.

    To participate in the program the investor also needs to pay fees for Due Diligence, application processing, and issuance of a certificate of naturalisation and a passport.

    In brief: how to obtain Dominica citizenship

    1. Dominica has a citizenship by investment program under which you can get a passport if you invest in the country’s economy.
    2. You can choose one of two investment options: either make a contribution of $100,000+ or purchase real estate for $200,000+.
    3. To be eligible to participate in the program the investor must be over 18, have a criminal-free background, have legal sources of income and be able to prove it, and have no serious illness.
    4. The investor’s family members such as a spouse, children, and parents, can participate in the application alongside the investor.
    5. Benefits of Dominica citizenship include visa-free trips to over 140 countries, B-1/B-2 visas to the USA for 10 years, reduction of taxes, opportunities for business, and creation of a safe haven.
    6. Immigrant Invest has been helping investors to become citizens and residents in other countries since 2006.


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