The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions’ (AAOIFI) Governance and Ethics Board (AGEB) has issued its Governance Standard for Islamic Financial Institutions (GSIFI) No. 8 ‘Central Shari’ah Board’, the organisation announced in a statement at the weekend.
The development, it said, marks the issuance of 100 standards so far in areas of accounting, auditing, governance, ethics as well as Shari’ah over a span of 27 years since inception.
“This is a giant leap towards improvements in the overall Shari’ah governance and compliance environment for the broader Islamic finance industry. We hope that this standard will support the regulators in establishing uniform practices for establishing and operating Shari’ah boards at jurisdiction level and will help in streamlining the Islamic banking and finance practices, within and across jurisdictions in line with the tenets of Shari’ah” said Dr. Ishrat Hussain – Chairman of AGEB.
“We have interacted with industry and regulators at a larger canvas for developing this standard. A survey with experts was conducted and public hearing sessions were held between April and July 2017 in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Pakistan in addition to the comments of a number of experts received in writing” he added.
The objective of the new standard is to provide guidance and comprehensive foundations that would define key terms of reference and principles when establishing such boards. Although the standard encourages the creation of Central Shari’ah Boards (CSB) at national levels, the guidance provided would standardize the global regulatory practices in this respect. The standard also presents a country-level approach for regulating the Islamic Finance Industry within borders, including products, practices, operations, etc. It is expected that such CSBs shall adopt globally acclaimed AAOIFI’s Shari’ah standards to standardize the practices.
It also provides detailed and comprehensive guidance on the definition, scope of work, responsibilities, appointment, composition, independence, terms of reference of a Central Shari’ah Board and other relevant issues.
Bi-Courtney, unions’ face-off: The pains, losses
Last week was tough for Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, (BASL), the various aviation unions, concessionaires and service providers at the imposing MMA2, as the unions for two harrowing days shut down the terminal over labour related matters.
Finally, the siege laid on the first privately-funded terminal in Nigeria, the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), a member of the Resort Group, has ended. This came to an end after unions in the aviation sector, including the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), had paralysed activities at the terminal for more than 48 hours last week.
Their complaint was the disengagement of some employees by the company, who the unions said were workers who showed interest to join them, while BASL said they were disengaged because of either old age or lack of diligence in their duties.
The unions barricaded the main entrance and exit of the terminal building with different vehicles as early as 5 a.m. last Tuesday, to prevent access to the facility. Thousands of intending passengers were stranded while the face-off lasted. Traffic on the ever-busy Mobalaji Bank-Anthony Way and other adjoining areas was heavy all through the period the action lasted.
Defiling court order
Despite the order of a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos and presided over by Mr. Justice I. N. Buba, restraining them from disrupting the operations of MMA2, operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), the unions shut down the terminal, claiming they had not received the court order. But sources said even when they were served copies of the order, they refused to collect it.
The unions barricaded the main entrance and exit of the facilities with different vehicles in flagrant disobedience of the court order in suit number FHC/L/CS/1641/2018. With this action, many intending travellers, workers and business owners in the terminal could not access the building, while traffic on the Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way was chaotic.
Airlines, others count losses
Besides BASL, also hit by the effects of the strike were the airlines, the banks, concessionaires and other businesses operating at MMA2, who could not access the terminal. Specifically, the airlines, including Dana, Arik, Aero, Med-View, Azman and Max Air estimated their losses to be in millions of naira. Banks operating cash centres at the terminal are: GTB, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Zenith Bank, while other major service providers include Spar, the eateries, bookstalls, protocol services, car hire operators, cargo freighters and fuel suppliers, among others. There were also the concessionaires, such as Spakleen Professionals, Precise Cleaning Services and Tow-To-Go, among others.
In fact, Dana Air in a statement by its spokesman, Kingsley Ezenwa, said it lost over N100 million on the first day of the lock down of the terminal and added that if this continued, the airline would be forced to downsize.
Chaos at GAT
While the strike was on, most airlines at MMA2 relocated their operations to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), while Aero Contractors moved its operations to its terminal. This amounted to a huge loss of revenue to BASL and other businesses at MMA2 but a gain for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which is managing the GAT. However, this understandably increased the chaos at GAT, as the facilities could not accommodate the sudden upsurge in passenger traffic.
The AVSEC of FAAN was overwhelmed by the upsurge in the number of passengers. Concerned stakeholders, who expressed worries that this was the greatest threat to the aviation industry, were alarmed that this could be happening at a government facility.
After laying siege to MMA2 for two days, the unions and BASL eventually agreed to call off the action last Thursday night. This was after both parties had signed an agreement brokered by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). While Bi-Courtney agreed to recall the disengaged workers and allow unionisation in the terminal, the unions agreed to call off the strike. This brought a lot of relief to all the stakeholders in the sector.
A letter signed by BASL’s Group Executive Director, Mr. Roger Whittle and Group Head, Human Resources, Mr. Ola Azeez, entitled: “Re: 15-Day Ultimatum to Recall and Reinstate Workers” reads in part: “Staff of BASL are free (as they have always been) to exercise their right of association by indicating their willingness to join any of the aviation unions. The management shall deduct and remit check off dues as required below.
After the disruption of its operations, normal activities finally resumed at MMA2 last weekend. All the airlines are back at the terminal, while businesses have reopened. Many passengers, who said they prefer the terminal, have been trooping there to board their flights to various destinations. Indeed, there are no signs that activities were disrupted for two days at the terminal.
Unions’ disdain for concession
Aviation unions have never hidden their disdain for concessions in the sector. They have done everything within their power to oppose and truncate the various concessions earlier granted private investors by the Federal Government. But the MMA2 concession has been the most enduring since 2007, surviving all sorts of assaults from the unions and FAAN.
There were other concessions in the aviation industry, which either never saw the light of day, or which were completed amidst controversy. The one between FAAN and Maevis Nigeria Limited to increase the authority’s revenue base through the Airport Operations Management System (AOMS) was a classic case of a concession gone awry. In it, FAAN, using all the weapons in its arsenal and the might of a federal agency messed up the concession, even after Maevis had invested millions of naira to buy and install equipment for the job. Officials of the government agency resorted to self-help by going physical to eject those of Maevis from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, after FAAN was floored in the court of law, just to frustrate the concession.
Stakeholders flay unions’ action
A member of aviation industry think tank group, Aviation Round Table (ART) and Chief Executive, Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), said the actions of the unions tarnish the image of Nigeria and negatively affected the travelling public, as well as airlines and other businesses operating at the terminal.
His words, “The unions have the right to go on protests but there must be limits in aviation. If you say you want to disrupt the operations of MMA2 and you call the airlines operating from there to find an alternative, I get worried and I ask, what is the NCAA doing about it? There is nothing that happens in aviation today, good or bad, call the NCAA. If they fail to do it, then something is wrong.
“Disrupting the operations of the airport terminal will affected airlines, who have a responsibility to the travelling public and other operators. If you disrupt an operator, you are simply hurting the nation and giving a very bad image of the country to the outside world. This is a country that wants to concession some of its airports, what are you telling the people that want to come in to buy into this? You are simply telling them not to come and if they don’t, how do you have a meal on your table? That is where my worry is.”
Similarly, aviation expert and former Assistant Secretary of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur, carpeted the unions, saying they acted in violation of the law. He noted however, that the unions would have explored all avenues so settle the issue rather than resort to the actions they took. He stated that what happened was a bad advertisement of the aviation industry by the activists.
They say when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffer. Many hoped that issue like this should be resolved before they get out of hand to save the aviation industry.
Adegbe seeks review of charter flight laws
Foremost Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensed Aircraft Dispatcher and Ground Instructor, Mrs. Victoria Adegbe, has called for a review of the laws guiding Charter Flight Operations so that Aircraft Dispatchers can be mandated to ensure safety.
Featuring as the only speaker representing West and North Africa at the 6th Safety in African Aviation Conference held in Kigali, Rwanda on September 13 -14, 2018, she stated that the safety rule in commercial aviation was the aircraft dispatcher, however, in the case of Charter flights; the dispatcher only has delegated functions but not responsibilities that ensure safety.
She noted that the law guiding General Aviation, which applies to Charter Flights, should henceforth be reviewed to include Aircraft Dispatch responsibilities, that is, in her words; “if we are serious about the issue of Aviation safety.”
Participants at the confab were astounded with her shocking revelations attesting to the fact that safety is only possible in aviation with the Aircraft Dispatcher sharing equal and joint responsibility with the pilot for every flight.
To this end therefore, Adegbe urged Civil Aviation Authorities in Africa and beyond to consider, adopt and ensure that such a recommendation is enforced in the interest of safety in the African skies and further afield.
Mrs. Victoria Adegbe is the CEO of Inselnetworks, an Abuja based aviation consultancy and training firm. She was the first female dispatcher to be employed by Arik Air and author of several books including; “Dispatch Made Easy-An Aircraft Dispatch Handbook 1st and 2nd Editions” (available on Amazon and Smashwords), “Atami” (An Igala Epic tale); and very recently published in the United States by AuthorHouse, the daring and seemingly controversial book titled, “Pilots Are Idiots” which is purely on Aviation safety.
Fuel scarcity: Cloud thickens against Yuletide
Nigeria, known for acute shortage of fuel during Yuletide, is on the cliff of another unpleasant incident, as major issues that usually plunge the country into nationwide fuel scarcity are gathering momentum. Adeola Yusuf writes
The pumping of petroleum products to Enugu depot, hub of fuel supply by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to entire south east region, has been halted. Before this unpleasant news was broken by the NNPC last Monday, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had staged a protest on demand for minimum wage. And the dust raised by this is yet to settle when major marketers of petroleum products in the country called a press conference where they declared that the debts the Federal Government owe them had not only surged to N130.7 billion but also that this is now a major threat to their business.
Though the Federal Government had through the NNPC assured Nigerians that there would not be scarcity but can Nigerians who had travelled through this route before believe this statement?
The issues highlighted below are to be considered before a yes or no question answer could be provided to the question.
Debts to fuel marketers
The Federal Government’s debts profile on fuel subsidy and taxes to major marketers of petroleum products in Nigeria have hit N130.7 billion mark.
Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), which declared this, maintained that the amount was the harmonized figure as at August 2018 after over four years of absolute drought in payment of the outstanding money on subsidy.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos last Monday, Chairman of MOMAN, Mr. Andrew Gbodume, who noted that the subsidy trapped in the government’s coffers was credit facilities from banks, stated that the lenders have now embargoed credit facilities to oil marketers.
“Now some of our members find it difficult to pay salaries, whereas we are bound to review salary of our staff at a minimum interval of every two years,” he said.
One of the major challenges the Nigerian downstream petroleum sector is still facing, according to Gbodume, is the non-payment of the long outstanding fuel subsidy to oil marketers.
Banks, he said, are no longer willing to assist in providing further credit facilities to oil marketers.
“The nonpayment of outstanding subsidy funds is affecting our businesses,” he said. “Kindly, note that the facilities extended by banks must be serviced regularly. We appreciate the efforts of the National Assembly but the non-payment creates a significant negative impact on the operational efficiency of the downstream sector of the oil industry, thereby placing a severe strain on its efforts to continuously invest in infrastructure and raise industry standards.
“ We hope that the debts will be paid in full to the oil marketers as soon as possible.”
Corroborating Gbodume’s view, Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Clement Isong, added that the debts on subsidy plus interest as at August 2018 stood at N130.7 billion.
“The figure on tax continues to move and as we speak it must have been more than this,” he said.
Stating that the current model is unworkable and unsustainable, Isong, who expressed optimism over payment of the outstanding by government, commended the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) for quality of planning, which he described as impeccable.
“We cannot but acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of PPMC over the last few months in ensuring consistent supply of petroleum products within the country,” he said. “PPMC has demonstrated its resolve in guaranteeing a non-repeat of the scarcity the nation experienced at the end of 2017 and quite frankly has done well so far.
“However, with NNPC being the sole importer and supplier of petroleum products in Nigeria at the cost incurred, it should be clear to all Nigerians that this policy direction is not sustainable.
“We believe the path to fully achieving a sustainable operating environment for the Nigerian petroleum industry begins with the downstream private sector. We feel the time is now to encourage a well informed and honest debate amongst ourselves as Nigerians on our downstream pricing policy, showing sensitivity to the fears of Nigerians and the challenges we face as a people and as an economy to arrive at an equitable but sustainable business model.”
Labour’s minimum wage tussle
Penultimate Wednesday, NNPC cautioned consumers of petroleum products against panic buying as the planned nationwide strike by NLC heightened fears over possible hiccups to free supply of the products.
Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, who made the call, appealed to motorists and other consumers of petroleum products across the country not to engage in panic buying of products over the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) planned industrial action.
The Federal Government, Dr. Baru said in a release by NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, was seriously engaging NLC on the issues raised.
He quoted the NNPC GMD as affirming that the nation had 37- day petroleum Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol, self- sufficiency, assuring that all the NNPC’s depots across the country, including the private ones engaged by the Corporation on throughput basis, have an abundance of petroleum products to meet the needs of Nigerians.
The statement said all NNPC depot managers have been instructed to intensify products loading and other activities in their depots to avert any fallout of developments in respect of the NLC’s proposed strike.
Baru explained that NNPC would continue to meet the products consumption needs of all Nigerians wherever they may be within the shores of the country.
Surge in pipeline vandalism
The pumping of petroleum products to Enugu depot, hub of fuel supply by the NNPC to entire south east region, has been halted. The NNPC, which confirmed this, last Monday, maintained that this was a result of oil pipeline vandalism, which has prevented “pumping of Products to Enugu depot.”
The corporation said: “As calm returned to Osisioma Ngwa communities of Abia State following a fire incident last Friday, the NNPC has appealed to the host communities to help stem the spate of vandalism of oil pipeline.
“Preliminary reports of the fire incident, which recorded some fatalities and loss of properties affirmed that the inferno resulted from the activities of vandals who had breached System 2Ex Pipeline Right of Way (PROW) in Ososioma.”
The NNPC spokesperson explained that the confirmation of items such as jerrycans, among others, at the scene of the incident, by the report indicated that the activities of vandals in the area ignited the flame.
Ughamadu quoted the NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, as saying that the incessant vandalism of pipeline facilities along System 2Ex PROW had prevented the Corporation from pumping fuel to the Enugu Depot which has remained underutilized despite its recent rehabilitation by the NNPC.
Dr. Baru lamented the loss of lives and properties in the inferno, which occurred in the wee hours of Friday in Umuaduru and Umuimo communities both in Osisioma Ngwa, in Abia State.
The GMD appealed to host communities to collaborate with the corporation to tame oil pipeline vandalism in their areas.
Dr. Baru thanked the State fire servicemen and NNPC officials for their prompt response, which rapidly brought the situation under control.
Saudi’s threat of $200 pb oil price
The landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol is in imminent threat of skyrocketing to N300 per barrel from N128. 79 per barrel it currently goes for.
This, which would worsen the fuel subsidy burden for the Federal Government and degenerate the under-recovery by the NNPC, is buoyed by the threat by World biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, to inflict pain that would push crude oil price to as high as $200 per barrel if the United States goes ahead with threat to sanction the country.
The gulf state is engrossed in a case of alleged tortuous and murder of a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, which is drawing global attention.
US President Donald Trump threatened to inflict “severe punishment” on Saudi Arabia if it is found to have killed the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Saudi Arabia, which has dismissed as “lies” claims by Turkish officials that Mr. Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents, has vowed to respond to any punitive action by Western powers “with greater action”.
While Nigeria is expected to get higher revenues if the diplomatic row pushes oil price to $200 per barrel, the country would also be inflicted with higher price for its refined products.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude exporter imports over 40 million litres of petrol daily due to epileptic nature of its 445, 000 barrels daily capacity refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna.
As at the last count, the country, which modulates and compels marketers of petrol to sell at N145 per litre, owes major marketers over N130.7 billion in subsidy and taxes.
While petrol landing cost stands at N122 per litre when crude oil was selling at $60 average, checks by this newspaper showed that the landing cost could go for as high as N300 per litre with $200 per barrel
Highlighting the possible implications of sanction on Saudi and the response of “greater action by the kingdom, Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia “possess about 18% of the world’s proven oil reserves and is the world’s biggest oil exporter, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). This gives the country significant power and influence on the global stage.
“If, for example, sanctions were imposed by the US or other countries, the Saudi government could respond by cutting its oil production, which would push up global prices unless other exporters made up the shortfall.
Reuters said: “In an editorial published on Sunday, the general manager of Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, Turki Aldakhil, said that imposing sanctions on the kingdom would result in an “an economic disaster that would rock the entire world.
“If the price of oil reaching $80 (£61) angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100 (£76), or $200 (£152), or even double that figure.”
NNPC nay Federal Government should go beyond assurance it has been giving to Nigerians over the impending scarcity. Nigerians have travelled through this route before and it would require more than assurances to get them to believe that this in-coming Yuletide would be different.
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