Aircraft engineer, Akin Olateru, is Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). In this interview with WOLE SHADARE, he speaks on the expansion of AIB’s brief to probe rail, road and marine accidents, capacity and air safety. Excerpts
This agency, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), has done so well in terms of accident reports, with timely release of accident reports, unlike what obtained in the past where reports remain on the shelf long after accidents have been investigated?
Since 2017, AIB has released 58 per cent of the total number of releases done since the creation of AIB in 2007. In term of final reports, we have done 58 per cent. The main reason AIB is set up is to investigate accidents and serious incidents and to come up with safety recommendations to prevent future occurrence. If you don’t release those reports in time, you are doing a disservice to the entire industry because there won’t be lessons learnt. How do you prevent the reoccurrence? By the time you are issuing your safety recommendations – may be four or five years – the airline may not even be in operation any more. When I assumed office, I said no report will go beyond 18 months, except in an extremely special case, which we have not had. We are like the back-end of the operations, unlike NCAA that is visible. We influence safety through the backend. Our work is extremely important because we are the only institution that can investigate Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to see where there are lapses or gaps and to proffer safety recommendations to NCAA on how to do things better.
What have you done to motivate workers to achieve the results so far?
Whatever you think, whatever you feel, all the actions you take in life are majorly influenced by two things – firstly, your beliefs and secondly your values. These two components, in a way, shape our decisions and, in turn, eventually shape our lives. That is life. When I came in in January 2017, AIB was at its lowest ebb. I inherited a disgruntled staff, a poorly funded agency. An agency of government you can say, on mandate in terms of performance, scoring below 35 per cent. Today, I stand tall before you to let you know parts of our achievements since we came into government. I said earlier that there are two major components that shape our lives, that are your values and your beliefs and they influence your decisions in a great deal and they influence everything we do. When I came in, our beliefs and values we had to work on them. On the human elements or human capital, we had a lot to do on that and we did a lot on that and part of the improvements we made in our human capital was training and retraining, changing the mind-set of our investigators. We moved away from our individualistic way of doing things to a group way of doing things, training them to know the effect of good team work. These are some of the key things we concentrated on. In doing that, we needed the assistance and support of great institutions around the world. It makes sense to learn from the best and we approached some nations, institutions at that time. I stand today to tell you the U.S. government has been our greatest ally and greatest supporters through the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). They have been in reality and major pillar of support. They have supported us with everything humanly possible through the Managing Director then, Dennis Jones, who had been to Nigeria on several times to train our investigators with his team. The U.S. government, through the Safe Skies programme, supported us immensely. We have other nations who didn’t believe in us. I really sincerely want to thank the U.S. government, especially the NTSB and most especially Mr. Dennis Jones, who is a gift to the world. He has been a major pillar of support. Without them, maybe we won’t be where we are today.
What ground work have you done on the multi-modal system you are proposing?
Going multi-modal means we are going to be investigating not just air accidents, we are going to be investigating rail accidents, we are going to be investigating marine accidents and road accidents. We are joining nations round the world who operate this multi-modal system. Last year, the Federal Executive Council approved our proposal, the new draft bill for AIB, before the Senate went on recess. This Bill is in the Senate and hopefully, before the end of this year, the bill will be passed and that would make Nigeria one of the top nations that does multi-modal. Just two months ago, we reviewed that to take care of all those gaps. How do we prevent future occurrence? When I said training, in the last one year we have sent 30 of our investigators to Cranfield
University to train on multi-modal accident investigation. They are back in Nigeria. We are working closely with the U.S. NTSB. Singapore NTSB is working with us on this. As we speak, we have a relationship with NTSB as some of our investigators go there for on-the-job training, not just read books or sit in the classroom, but to actually be physically present with the U.S. investigators to support us on that. Another thing you have to understand is that we will take on some rail staff from Nigeria Railways the same with maritime and same with road and train them how to investigate accidents properly. Those are the programmes we have in place to ensure we get there. It is not going to happen overnight. It takes time to build institutions. I can confidently say to you that AIB is a world-class institution.
You spoke eloquently about the different MOUs AIB has with some countries. Could you specifically tell us in details what these MOUs tend to achieve? Secondly, on the inter-modal system, it is obviously going to be a wide scope for AIB, it requires a lot of trainings, do you really have the capacity to train these different groups?
I will start with the MOU. I will give you an example of Sao Tome and Principe. The last accident, which occurred in Sao Tome, was ceded to Nigeria to investigate. We investigated that accident and final report was released 12 months after the accident. That gave my investigators some kind of exposure. You need to understand what accident investigation is all about. There are no two accidents that are the same. They may look alike, but if you look critically, you will see that there are some other things you need to learn as you go along. That is one thing strengthening your technical competence. Take France for instance, France wants Nigeria to help the Francophone African countries and their MOU is to look at how they can strengthen AIB, either through training or equipment. Come November, there is training dedicated for our investigators from France to go to France and learn something. Don’t forget, when you talk aviation, France is one of the leading countries in the world. They have majority shares in Airbus and there are many activities in France. There is so much we can learn from France. Take Saudi Arabia for instance, it is just because of the recently concluded Hajj, our agreement would have been signed because we have got clearance from the Ministry of Justice to go ahead and sign the agreement. Saudi Arabia has some expertise that we need and they are happy to come to Nigeria to train our team on that. What they will be coming to train us on is looking beyond the Fight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder. We have met and discussed everything on the CVR and FDR. You need to look beyond that and that can help to make your report much better. For the Republic of Benin, what they have signed is to say whenever there is an accident, we should come and help them. They don’t have anything on ground, so they told us if we have training, we should please include them. We have an agreement with Gambia through BAGAIA. Today, we have helped Gambia to set up accident investigation agency through the help of Nigeria. We supported them in writing their regulations, the Act, the whole work. We even helped them with our SOP. They came to Nigeria, they sat with us and we put them through. They went back to Gambia. Today, it has been passed by their parliament. These are the kind of thing we are doing to help them. On the multi-modal, it is a huge scope, but one thing you have to agree with me is that AIB does not charge for the work we do, it is being funded by the Federal Government. All over the world, accident investigation is being funded by government and is not expected to charge for its services. NCAA does. They call it cost recovery, but we don’t charge anything. We expect to be funded, that is the norm. We are like the United Nations kind of operation. The more accidents we have, the more money it costs AIB, because all these investigations cost us money. If you look at the new Act that is currently with the Senate, we have increased our scope to ensure it is widened to accommodate enough room for AIB to be able to function, to be able to support its operations, to be able to train, buy more equipment necessary and to support the whole system as a whole. That is our strategy on that.
I want to look at what your manpower will be when you begin with the multi-modal project? Will you be operating from the airport here?
If you understand our set up, it has four office locations. We are in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Kano. You don’t build Rome in one day. This will be a gradual process. We need to first of all utilise the maximum of what we have before we do a proper need assessment, whether we are going to increase our point or we are good at four points, but these are decisions that will be taken in a later stage. I cannot really comment on that now.
You are expanding now and the challenges are going to be enormous. As at today, there is a committee that was set up to find out how your recommendations assist with safety. Are you satisfied with that? The number of deaths on the roads is far more than air. Are you confident that what you will give out in terms of recommendations will be implemented?
I am happy you have been following the trend when a committee was set up to look into the implementation and effectiveness of those safety recommendations that AIB has issued since inception. I was the chairman of that committee and we came up with the final result of 62 per cent of safety recommendations that were implemented. Partially implemented were 18 per cent and the rest were not implemented. You need to understand one thing. Safety recommendations can be issued to an airline. For instance, there was a helicopter crash; the first safety recommendation issued to that company was a Bell Helicopter. Unfortunately, the company went burst, even before the safety recommendations came out. Some safety recommendations may not be implemented because of cost. For us and NCAA, I have had a meeting with the Director General of NCAA, we have agreed on how to work on MoU basis. We have sent in a proposal and we are waiting for his response because AIB and NCAA need to work together as a team on MoU that will guide our relationship. For clarity sake, I have read some things in the newspapers when somebody said NCAA doesn’t have to implement AIB’s recommendations. It is either the person doesn’t understand aviation or how things work from AIB’s perspective or just trying to be mischievous. I will tell you the process. When we are done with our investigation, we send the final draft to NCAA, among other stakeholders, for their review and we give them 60 days to come back to us to tell us why they are not implementable. We don’t just issue safety recommendations for issuing sake. We give the stakeholders opportunity to comment. That is why we call it 60-day window. We are trying to shorten it to 30 days so that our reports can be out on time. You can imagine you completed reports and you have to give 60 days; that is two months just for stakeholders to read, comment and get back to you. You need to trust AIB. We need to build a world class institution so that when we talk you will listen. This is what we have been doing in the last two and half years to make sure that AIB is a credible institution that everybody would listen when it talks. That is very important. It is same all over the world. The US NTSB don’t have it in their regulations that if you don’t comply they will send you to jail. It is not so with also. We are making it easy, we work with you. We give you time to assess our recommendations and discuss with us if you think it is not right. On the road, I will give you an example that there is a crash and the vehicle summersaulted caused by a huge ditch or pot hole on the road and we issue a safety recommendation to FERMA to fix the ditch. We will work with FERMA the same thing we are doing with NCAA. Once that pot hole is fixed, this is how you can prevent all these needless deaths. People die every day on our roads. The problem is that nobody investigated anything, nobody checks anything, nobody says this is what we need to do to prevent future occurrence. We have tanker fire accidents many times; have you read any recommendation on how to prevent it? These are the things we are going to fix. The people that don’t want to comply with it, it’s either they don’t know or they just don’t want to comply.
Last remains of Ethiopian plane crash victims buried, families say little notice given
The last remains of 157 people killed aboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane in March were interred at the crash site, farmers and families told Reuters, but some relatives were upset they had been unable to take part in the ceremony.
Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya Stumo was killed, said an email was sent to some families — but not all — notifying them of the burial just two days before it happened.
“By the time the burial took place I was just wiped out; I was just glad they were doing it. I was tired of it not being done,” said Milleron. “But a lot of people didn’t feel like that. They hadn’t been aware of what was happening.”
Ethiopian Airlines did not return calls seeking comment about why some families were not told in advance.
Families have been begging the airline to fill in the crater left by the March 10 crash, which still contained remains too small to be recovered.
Milleron said on Saturday that locals had been burying remains exposed by rains in small mounds of earth. She herself found a bone at the site when she visited Ethiopia to collect her daughter’s remains in October, which she told the airline about in an email.
The force of the impact meant no complete bodies were recovered; partial remains were tested for DNA and finally returned to families last month.
As the burial took place on Thursday, a U.S. embassy representative present kept Milleron updated by text: “Now they’re laying the coffins down, now they’re putting earth on them …”
“I became a blubbering mess,” she said.
Milleron said the lack of notice of the burial ceremony had raised tensions between the families and Ethiopian Airlines.
“We are looking into taking legal action against EA – not of course to exhume and re-organise the burial, that’s done – but to make sure we secure a leading role in planning for a future memorial,” said Adrian Toole, a British father whose daughter Joanna was aboard the plane.
“EA are clearly on a corporate strategy to ‘tidy up’ the remaining issues so as to get the whole episode out of the public eye.”
Representatives of the airline and of Boeing and some embassy employees were there. The Boeing representatives were on a prearranged trip to discuss community projects, Milleron said.
Boeing manufactured the 737 MAX 8 plane, which nosedived shortly after take-off. A preliminary investigation pointed to a malfunctioning anti-stall system known as MCAS, which was also implicated in the crash of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia five months earlier. All 189 people onboard that flight were killed.
Tesfaye Mulatu, a farmer near the crash site, said he had seen a helicopter arrive and cars bring caskets on Thursday. The crater left by the impact has been filled in, he said.
“Now, the area looks a football field,” he told Reuters by telephone.
Some bereaved families have formed associations and hope to use funds from Boeing to build a memorial. The manufacturer will make $100 million available, with half going to families and half to projects in local communities.
“We continue to offer our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 and we are committed to helping those affected by these tragedies,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said.
Duty waiver on building materials can reduce cost of housing in Nigeria –Chukwuemelie
Determined to bridge the housing deficit in the state and satisfy the needs of all residents, the Enugu State Housing Development Corporation (ESHDC) embarked on multiple housing projects for low and high income earners. The General Manager of the Corporation, Mr. Agu Chukwuemelie, in this interview with KENNETH OFOMA, highlights the strategy and challenges towards achieving these objectives. Excerpts:-
How has it been with your Corporation and the task of achieving your mandate?
I want to give God the glory and then thank the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who has given me the opportunity in the first place to serve the state in the capacity of the General Manager of Enugu State Housing Development Corporation because without this opportunity I don’t know whether we can be discussing this. And secondly I thank him for the enabling environment he has created in the state, for the security which is actually the selling point of most of our parcels and our houses. We noticed that because of the peace in the state and because of the security in the state many people are relocating from outside the state, from the Diaspora as well and they are relocating back to Enugu which used to be the capital of Eastern region. I thank my management which has worked with me because I would not have achieved this without them.
Coming to what we have done as a team; when I took over, I told them (staff and management) that jointly we are going to break all records kept by all the other MDs and CEOs. And that has been our target. Our target is to reduce housing deficit in Enugu State. When you look at the population of the state and the number of decent houses that we have, you notice a very big gap, I might not have the details of the gap but there is a gap between the number of people we have and the number of houses that are available to accommodate them because actually the first need of life should be I think after food is shelter. So you can’t live under the mango trees, you must have a roof over your head; even birds have nest talk less of humans, we need shelter.
Since my assumption of office, we have done seven estates. Those estates are WTC, Citadel, Heritage, Transparency, Rangers, and Valley estates. In Rangers we have Phases 1 and 2; in IMT that’s Citadel, we have Phases 1 and 2 as well. I can say that we have done well on the high end. High end is not parcels for low income earners; they are parcels for medium class and upper class. We have also been trying to expand our network to the outskirts because we noticed we are having congestion in the city and we want to face that squarely to see how we can help the Governor and the government to decongest the state. So because of that, we are moving towards the outskirts. We have started moving towards the outskirts.
I personally noticed that if you go outside the country, some people drive up to an hour to their offices. If you go to a place like US, you have estates outside the cities and people still come to work outside those areas. So we want to create value at the outskirts because that’s where you have large expanse of land. We have an estate at Ugwuoba which is ongoing; we have another estate we call Coal City View at Aguabo which is like 10-15 minutes from Enugu city, also we are developing a parcel at Akagbe Ugwu. We have another estate we call Sand View at Akwuke. We are trying to develop these four estates simultaneously based on how far our capacity and our purse can carry us to create value to the outskirts. And in another one year, I think probably we should be done with all these four estates. And it’s something that we have to do to also reduce the deficit that I mentioned earlier.
So having done much on high end, what are you doing for the low income earners?
Currently we are discussing with the Federal Mortgage Bank and Primary Mortgage Bank as well as Family Funds. Family Funds is a Federal Government Agency, they have Funds to support civil servants to see if we can build for the lower income earners. So if these materialize as well, we are going to see a whole lot of low income houses coming on board within the next six months because we noticed that those that are heavily hit are low income earners because of the cost of housing units due to high cost of cement, high cost of iron rods, high cost of building materials and all that.
So we are paying major attention to low income earners and jointly with Federal Mortgage bank, and some of these other institutions we want to jointly develop like 500 units of low income housing in the state. And that we have started working on and after our presentation at Abuja and after my “Housing Award” at Abuja, they started paying more attention to what we do. These ones are on low income end.
We are also partnering with some indigenous real estate firms in the country to develop the high end, and these houses will be expensive but also it’s going to create value for the state. It’s expensive because of the type of finishing and their own objectives, their own sense of real estate. So you don’t expect them to do what you do for civil servants; that’s why. So we want to balance the high end and the low end so that we can satisfy all the housing needs.
Most people look at government housing projects as elitist projects meant to benefit only the rich; because if you look at the house rent in Enugu, it’s still one of the highest in the country; so how do you strike a balance?
Enugu State Housing Development Cooperation is a commercialised corporation. We don’t receive subventions from the state; we react to the market the way all other private real estate companies do because it’s from what we make as profit that we use to run the corporation. We pay our salaries; we have our overhead etc. I want to correct that impression of elitist minded projects. I normally see situations where they ask me, just like you are asking, why is it that you don’t have low income houses? And we ask them why is it that we don’t have low income cement, why is it that there are no low income iron rods? We are part of the society and we should begin to look at some of these problems from where it all started. Why can’t the Federal Government give waivers to duties on cement and iron rods? I know that they produce cement in Nigeria, why can’t they support that project so that if I get low priced iron rods it will translate into low cost houses. So why will people want a high priced building materials to produce a low priced house? It can never work, it is not possible.
Besides, we don’t sell only houses, we develop estates. And for you to develop an estate, you are including infrastructure within the estate, such as roads, electricity, water etc. If I tell you how much they sell bitumen, you will be shocked. Even sand, we buy sand to do earthwork, then the drainage is is even more expensive than the road. Land as well, you have to pay for it because we are not getting land free; we discuss with communities, we pay them and we get this land and before we put the infrastructure on it we need to fence the whole area, we need to put electricity, we need to put water and then security before we now build on already high cost. And at the end of the day when you add up this it will turn out to be a high priced house.
Why do you have to move to the satellite towns for the low income houses considering that workers who live in such places will be paying transport fares which will add to their cost of living?
To build estates in the city will even worsen the price. To buy a land in the city we all know how much they are selling properties in town, because we can’t build on the air we need to buy these properties and build on top of it and it will turn out the normal way of being expensive. So what we are trying to do to solve these problems is we are talking to the stakeholders. We are discussing with Mortgage Banks so that civil servants; we know how low their salaries are, can you allow these people to pay for 20 years depending on the number of years they have in the service. So it’s working out because they have started listening to us because they feel now that we have the capacity, they now know as well that we have that good image, we will be able to get off-takers.
So we are putting our off-takers together, the cooperatives; already we have over 1000 people who are interested. With this it will be possible, but without this it will never be possible because I don’t like chasing shadows because you cannot make impossibilities to be possible.
Most often we see conflicts or misunderstanding between some institutions or communities, who lay claim to lands acquired by the corporation; some are accusing the government of forceful takeover of either communal land or land that belong to institutions and commercializing such without any benefit to them?
No, it’s a wrong impression. What we do is that we meet, we normally discuss with some of the communities or most of the communities. I will give you examples. In Coal City View which is Aguabo, we called them; we normally give them some money for what they call traditional rites because we don’t want to get involved in it. Then secondly, we give them percentage of the developed area. For Aguabo I think we gave 20 per cent of the developed area back to the same community; the same thing in Rangers Estate and so many places. But you know out of every 12 there must be a Judas. You will see some people who will say we don’t agree with what you discussed with our community and they are in the minority. They want more or they want what is not possible, that is one aspect. The second aspect is that the state might declare an area problematic if this area is causing problem in the society and they want to solve it and sometimes it comes from the House of Assembly because of reports of criminal activities. And the House of Assembly will now force the State Government to acquire the land because people are passing through hell and all that. And in such a place you don’t do any other thing because in the initial time they were given compensation.
So it’s not something that is hidden, we normally have our agreements with the communities written and we settle them and we still give them some percentage of the developed areas.
N300bn presidential Initiatives on Customs Modernisation: The inside story
…as reps stop project, commence investigation
•Customs does not need AFC $300m investment –Alagbaoso
In this report, PAUL OGBUOKIRI ex-rays the new Customs modernisation plan, tagged: ‘E Customs Projects,’ already approved by the presidency. He concludes that the move is needless as the Nigeria Customs Service is modernised, adding that the wild goose chase will cost Nigeria over N300 billion savings in the 1 per cent Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) fund
Controversy of over 20-year concession of Nigeria Customs Service, tagged ‘E Customs Projects’
As controversy trails the reported move by forces in the presidency to concession the Nigeria Customs Service to the private sector for 20 years, a document sighted at the weekend by our correspondent titled, Re: Presidential Initiatives on Customs Modernisation: “E-Customs Project”(Establishment of a Digital /Paperless Customs Administration) and other Matters, indicate that the presidency has approved the engagement of a consortium comprising Bionica Technologies West Africa, Bergan Security Consultants & Supplies, Africa Finance Cooperation (AFC) and Huawei to establish a project special purpose vehicle to enter into the 20-year concession arrangement with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the selection of this consortium was not advertised and no tender was issued for the selection of the best companies. It was further learnt that the process was not made transparent and the current contract holders in the ongoing transformation and modernisation of NCS were never given an opportunity to bid.
This is even as it was disclosed that the supposed partners within the consortium do not have any discernible experience to warrant their inclusion in such a huge and sensitive endeavour.
A search on Huawei, the technical partner, showed that it has never implemented, anywhere in the world, an automated system for Customs and has no experience in the Customs environment.
Chief Jerry Igbokwe, a maritime lawyer, described the plan as a major risk to the Nigerian economy as NCS plays a vital role in revenue collection for the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Recall that the security debate around Huawei is not new, although it has intensified in recent months. Huawei is considered by many governments to be a surrogate for the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
US security forces have warned that Huawei equipment could be used to create a “backdoor” into foreign mobile and data networks.
According to Chief Igbokwe, having such a company monitoring all trade transaction in Nigeria could be a major issue.
He noted that granting of a 20-year concession “in a non-tendered and non-transparent process seems precisely to be the type of business model that the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been trying to move away from.”
Modernising of Customs since 2013 led to NICIS 11
On October 10, 2019, Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso, Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, in a motion, raised the alarm over the plan to introduce a fresh modernisation programme for the Nigeria Customs Service even as the agency has been modernising since 2013.
He urged the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, to cause an investigation to commence into the deal.
He said: “There are some foreign companies who are very eager to sponsor, finance and provide technical services to what they call the modernisation of Customs, without recourse to the National Assembly.
“My motion is the need to investigate the curious concession proposed arrangement between the consortium Bionica Technologies West Africa Limited, who are the sponsors; Bergan Security Consultants and Supplies, who are co sponsors, African Finance Corporation, who are lead financiers and Huawei, Nigeria Customs Service and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for Customs modernisation project.
“The House is aware of various Customs modernisation projects in the past. For example in the 90s, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for the installation of ASYCUDA++ and training of Customs officers for three years.
“The House is also aware that the Federal Government agreed to engage former pre shipment companies for valuation and classification of goods, hence, some service providers namely Webbfontaine, Cotecna, SGS and Globalscan were engaged for that purpose.
“This contract was to last for seven years, from 2005 to 2012 when the service providers handed over to Nigeria Customs Service.
“By 2011, one could say the positive effects of this included competent and committed workforce for Nigeria Customs Service, personnel understanding of the new process and benefits to stakeholders.
“It resulted to collection of proper revenue due, elimination of corruption and other benefits. The House notes that with these put in place, there exist a one stop shop which allows all trade transactions to be conducted through a single system domiciled with the Customs
“For example, all other government agencies like NAFDAC, SON and the rest have dissolved into a single platform with the Nigeria Customs Service,” he said.
He noted that in 2011, there was an illegal concession between the Federal Ministry of Finance and a company with inadequate capital base called Single Window System and Technologies, signed in secrecy during the government transition period of which the House of Representatives had a Public Hearing and stopped it to save Nigeria billions of Naira vide the votes of Wednesday, July 13, 2011.
According to him, in 2017 another move for Customs modernisation was made by the Technical Committee on the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme, purported to be acting on behalf of the Federal Government called Adani Systems Nigeria Limited, to modernise, maintain, develop the scanning of goods in the country in line with the pre shipment inspection act for a period of 25 years.
“Again the attention of Controller General of Nigeria Customs Service was drawn to this and the concession was stopped.
“Curious that in September 2019, another concession, which will last for 20 years (that is the subject matter now) is being suggested to Nigeria Customs Service, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning, Federal Ministry of Justice and this agreement is for pro-rata sharing of one per cent CISS and a needless $300 million investment.
Meanwhile, Sunday Telegraph learnt that the implementation of Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) II, adopted by the Nigerian Customs Service for trade facilitation and tariff processing has built a robust Customs System for Nigeria.
NICIS II, our correspondent learnt, links around a paperless platform of various organisations like CBN, FMF, SON, NAFDAC, NIACOM Insurance Certificate, NAQS, MLSN, NSA and FIRS, commercial banks and more than 3000 private sector companies (Importers, Shipping lines, Airlines, Clearing agents).
Having exceeded the N1 trillion mark in revenue since 2017, NCS in October alone, collected over N115 billion and in the first nine months of this year has collected over N1.05trillion. Experts in Customs operations say the revenue continues to increase despite the closure of the Nation’s land borders, because the electronic payment of duties and taxes has secured revenue collection and removed opportunities for fraud.
Our correspondent also learnt that clearance time is also drastically reducing for revenue collection and electronic certificates, leading to better turnaround time and therefore many more revenue cycles.
House investigates, suspends concession
Sequel to the Hon. Alagbaoso’s motion, the House passed Resolution No. HR 132/10/2019 mandating its Joint Committee on Finance, Customs and Petitions to investigate the contract.
The resolution further read: Pursuant to Section 88 (1) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which confers on the National Assembly power to conduct investigations, the Joint Committee urged the different parties involved to maintain the status-quo-ante pending the outcome of the investigation
Alagbaoso had in the motion expressed worry that the over N300 billion believed to have accumulated in the CISS fund between 2012 and 2019, will be frittered away.
He said he is further worried that there is no difference in substance, scope and structure between the failed concession attempts of 2011, 2017 and this 2019.
He added that there is already a national single window platform in the Nigeria Customs Service and officers of the service are performing beyond expectations, collecting duties in billions of naira on daily basis.
The House further resolved to mandate the Committee on finance, Customs , public petitions, committee on agreements to expose the foreign and local collaborators involved in this project either as sponsors, co sponsors, financiers and others.
Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) could not be reached at the time of going to press, to comment on their involvement in the deal as several calls put across to Mr. Chidi Iwuwah, Director General of the agency were not answered.
A maritime expert and president of Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, said changing such a complex Customs system as NICIS 11 that has cost the country billion and has repositioned the Service, to an untested IT system that has never been implemented in a big country might have an impact on the revenue collected by NCS and could have a serious impact on the ability of importing and exporting for several months.
Port congestion looms
…may worsen Apapa gridlock
ndications were rife at the weekend that the Apapa Port is set to record another round of cargo congestion, not only because the cargoes are flowing in faster than before, courtesy of the partial border closure, but because the cargoes are not evacuated as fast as they were offloaded from the ships.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the layers of containers in the port terminals which used to be three strata have elongated. This development, our correspondent learnt is not unrelated to the activities of the Federal Ministry of Works on the roads inward the seaport.
At Point Road intersection, the Federal Ministry of Works has blocked the intersection leading to Liverpool, at the Polysonic Mall.
First they dug a ditch in front of the Mall, made it very steeply, so that container-laden trucks would not be able to use it. Then, they moved towards the bank, inward Point Road and properly blocked it with rocks and boulders.
By blocking the Point Road Intersection, the FMW has ensured that every truck, moving towards the Tin Can could not go through, the Point Road unto the Liverpool. In order words, every truck going to Liverpool, must join the queue, as they come from Ijora, drive past the Police Point Road, move through the Airways Bus stop and head towards Eleganza.
Trucks going to Tin Can now have to first go through Ijora and enter Apapa Wharf Road before heading to Tin Can because the road leading into Tin Can from Mile 2 or Coconut Bust Stop has become seriously impassable. Experts say if the Ministry of Works put its mind into it, a palliative measure can be achieved in one week.
With the Point Road intersection successfully blocked, a new wave of bedlam is currently in the offing, looming larger every day.
A Concerned resident of Apapa told Sunday Telegraph that the FMW first poured laterite in early September, halting traffic on Point Road. But sensing the danger it posed to the smooth traffic along the axis, the source said it was removed by PTT but the FMW came back on October 1, and totally blocked the same route/spot this time with rocks and boulders.
Innoson’s new automated auto plant opens in Nnewi
…heads NACCIMA committee on dumping of toxic vehicles
nnoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company’s third plant and most advanced and automated; has opened in Nnewi, Anambra State.
This came as the Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Co Ltd, Chief Innocent Chukwuma has been appointed head of the Automobile Committee of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) against dumping of obsolete and toxic vehicles into the country.
The President of NACCIMA, Hajiya Saratu Iya – Aliyu dropped this hint at the official commissioning of INNOSON Vehicle’s ultra-modern automated production line Nnewi, Anambra State.
She said “the essence is to monitor and inspect vehicles being imported into the country and ensure that the country does not become dumping ground for used and obsolete vehicles.
“When you look at the vehicles being imported into the country as fairly used you cannot clearly confirm that those vehicles are good enough for our people and you cannot be sure that it would last so Innoson being a manufacturer is in a better position to find out if those vehicles still have life in them,” she said.
She urged the Federal and State governments as well as the private sector to ensure that there is a conducive environment for business like Innoson to flourish, adding that it holds potentials for job creation and reduction of unemployment as well as contribute to the Gross Domestic Product and fast track industrialisation economy.
Speaking earlier, Chief Innocent Chukwuma said: “The major attendant benefit of this automated plant is that it will definitely reduce production cost. I am glad to announce that this newly installed plant has successfully reduced the cost of a brand new 15-17 seater Hummer bus from N16 million to N9 million.
“We intend to duplicate the success of this production line to other production lines. We shall not stop until an average Nigerian can comfortably purchase a brand new vehicle,” he said.
Recall that second hand and fairly used vehicles dealers across the country recently protested what they described as uncontrolled flow dumping of obsolete vehicles in the country, lamenting that Nigerians are being ripe-off. They added that such vehicles are a threat to the lives of Nigerians.
South Korea to strengthen relationship with Nigeria
he Government of South Korean has intensified moves to strengthen business relationship with Nigeria in key area of the economy.
This was the thrust of a Sustainable Business for Economic Development forum organised by the Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in Lagos recently.
Speaking at the event, the South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, In-Tae Lee, said the tow countries have proven to the world that more can be done in areas like ship building, ports development, rail construction, power and renewable energy and gas pipeline and many more.
“I would like to point out another chapter of bilateral cooperation – educational, cultural and E- government training exchanges that are crucial to development of relations between our countries”
He added that Nigeria is South Korea’s second largest trade partner country in Africa and the biggest construction market on the continent.
According to UNCTAD, South Korea recorded a cumulative total of $494 million as at end of 2018 in139 cases in four years
Statistics obtained from Kotra in Lagos also indicates that export amount to Nigeria from South Korea increased to $540 million, which is 0.4 per cent from January to August this year.
On trade volume, export to Nigeria, import from Nigeria and trade balance, the statistics shows a trade volume of $985,673 in 2016, $2,622,405 in 2017, $1,965,412 in 2018 and $984,871 resulting in -16.2 growth.
On export to Nigeria, it recorded $460,813 in 2016, $2,121,967 in 2017, 917,850 in 2018 and $540,627 as at August 2019.
Import from Nigeria to South Korea shows $524,860 in 2016, $500,438 in 2017, $1,047,562 in 2018 and $444,244 as at August this year, representing 30.4 per cent growth.
On Trade Balance, 2016 had -64 while 2017 was $1,621,529. For 2018 and January to August 2019, it had -$129,712 and $96,383 respectively.
Also speaking at the event, Adeshina Emmanuel, Director Investment Promotion at Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), listed the country’s large population, sophisticated financial markets, improving business climate, strategic location and generous investor protections as part of reasons to invest in the country.
In a presentation he made, Emmanuel said the two decades of political stability, Nigeria’s projection to be the 14th largest economy in the world by 2050 and running a private sector led economy makes the country attractive.
Yusuf Bashar, Customs Assistant Comptroller General in charge of ICT, talked on the service modernisation and it’s existing partnership with Korean Customs Service. He also gave advise on efficient clearing process.
Potential investors from Korea at the event includes Ace Global Company, Furaha,a beauty manufacturing brand, Paylink which deals in mobile money transactions , Samsung Construction and Shinhan Bank which is a leading financial institution, ranked 67th out of top 500 banking brands.
Others includes Creativehill, an IT services company that creates new value in Agri business, blockchain technology and Gyeongsangbuk, a firm that partners Dangote in agriculture.
Weststar announces new arrivals of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
he Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has become a bestseller in major markets around the world with over 20 years since its first production at the Düsseldorf plant in Germany (1995).
In response to the growing and diverse needs of the Nigerian transport industry today, and in an attempt to provide value suited for passengers, drivers and fleet owners, Weststar Associates Limited, Authorized General Distributors of Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars and Commercial Vehicles in Nigeria is happy to announce the arrival of more units of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters.
Already selling fast, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 324 KA comes with features like fuel efficient petrol engines, high-performance roof air conditioners, electrical sliding doors, reverse camera and 14 – 19 seats depending on customers’ preference.
The exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 324 KA comes with a radiator grille frame in the vehicle body colour, 16-inch steel wheels with 18-hole design, daytime running lamps which make it possible for other road users to identify the vehicle faster in the daytime and the electric sliding door on the side which enables comfortable boarding and exit for passengers.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter puts great emphasis on comfort in its interior with features like the high-performance roof air conditioner, seating with adjustable backrest, interior LED illumination, wood flooring, interior design with black Tunja fabric, 14 – 19 seats depending on customers’ preference, Audio 15 multimedia system, instrument cluster with pixel-matrix display, 3-point seat belt and a locking glove compartment with considerable stowage space.
With regards to performance, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 324 KA is equipped with a M272 petrol engine with 190 kW (258hp) power output and 5900 rpm torque; the engine is also coupled with automatic transmission. This fits perfectly with the requirements of Nigerian roads.
Other key features include Crosswind Assist which detects track offset caused by strong crosswinds on-time and helps the driver to remain in their lane. The adaptive brake lights with their conspicuous flashing which help significantly prevent the threat of rear-end collisions, ABS – the Anti-locking Brake System which ensures that a vehicle remains steerable even in the event of emergency braking, ESP which stabilizes the speed and movement of the vehicle during bends by selectively braking one or more wheels and reducing engine torque if required, and PARKTRONIC which through a series of ultrasonic sensors strategically placed around the vehicle, accurately measures the distance between the vehicle and other objects during parking to prevent collisions.
Speaking on the new units of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Mr. Mirko Plath, CEO, Weststar Associates Limited commented; “The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter’s global appeal is one that is recognized by businesses and transporters in the Nigerian market. It is our utmost goal to ensure that our customers get a product that is able to attend to the challenges they face on Nigerian roads and most importantly add significant value to their businesses.”
Building on its success and global appeal, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter continues to dominate the vans segment and it is the choice vehicle for the transportation industry in Nigeria.
Analysts: OMO restriction threatens banks’ profitability
he decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to bar non-bank locals (individuals and corporates) from participating in its Open Market Operations (OMO) at both the primary and secondary markets, could make it difficult for the banks to comply with the apex bank’s Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) requirements, thereby affecting their profitability, analysts at Comercio Partners have said.
In a report obtained by New Telegraph at the weekend, the analysts noted that the OMO restriction had resulted to a decline in yields at the CBN’s primary market auction as well as a significant drop in lenders’ fixed deposit rates.
According to the analysts, the latter development will hinder DMBs’ ability to comply with the LDR requirement, thus making them liable to being hit with debits by the regulator.
As part of what it said were its efforts to compel banks to increase lending to the real sector of the economy, the CBN had in a letter dated, July 3, 2019, directed all lenders to maintain a minimum LDR of 60 per cent by the end of September 2019.
The LDR is the portion of customers’ deposit that is given out as loans.
The apex bank also warned that failure to meet the LDR requirement would lead to a levy of additional Cash Reserve Requirement (CRR) equal to 50 per cent of the lending shortfall of the target LDR. This means 50per cent of a bank’s deposit will be immediately sent to the CBN.
At the expiration of the September 30 deadline, the CBN debited the accounts of 12 banks to the tune of N499.18billion for failing to comply with its directive even as it announced that it was raising the LDR target upwards to 65 per cent and which lenders must achieve by December 31, 2019.
However, according to the analysts at Comercio Partners, while the OMO restriction is in line with the CBN’s desire to drive more lending to the real sector, the move may impact DMBs’ balance sheet.
The analysts said: “CBN claims this new policy directive is to drive more lending to the real sector, we see this play out in different ways in banks’ balance sheets. During Q3 results presentation some banks revised their deposit growth forecast downwards by as much as 10 per cent to 20 per cent and revised upward the loan growth assumption, this speaks directly to the loan to deposit threshold of 65 per cent.
“However, this is unlikely to happen as the new CBN circular has created a wall of money (Due to the paucity of investment outlets) which will sit with the banks making it difficult to meet the LDR requirement- this would easily see further debits in December, crimping the banks’ profitability. The possible upside to this new policy for banks is, will see a possible decline in interest expenses, therefore, increasing interest income.”
The analysts also pointed out that since the OMO restriction was announced, yields at the CBN’s primary market auction have declined quite significantly even as the market remains thin on volumes.
They further noted that bond yields had dropped significantly across the curve, saying “with the five-year declining by 158bps to 12.05 per cent, 10-year bond yields have shrunk by 103bps to 13.14 per cent and the yield on the 30-year bonds is down by 81 bps to 13.68 per cent.”
“We expect yields to decline further on the back of the resolution of the CBN to stay true to their new policy and the anticipated OMO maturities repayment. The question here is how far can these yields fall off to make a plunge into risk assets worth the while of market participants.
“We have also seen a significant drop in Fixed deposit rates with tier 3 banks offering single digit fixed deposit rate as opposed to the over 14 per cent they were offering prior to the policy pronouncement. This is clearly reflective of the general paucity of investment outlets as participants scramble to deploy investible funds in limited outlets,” the analysts said.
Jaguar I-PACE voted ‘Best SUV’ in the mid-size class
aguar’s all-electric performance SUV has won Germany’s most famous car award, the Golden Steering Wheel. The I-PACE triumphed in the mid-size SUV category, ahead of the Audi Q3 and Seat Tarraco.
Designed and developed in the UK, the I-PACE was created from a clean sheet of paper with the aim of delivering the world’s best premium electric vehicle – and a true Jaguar driver’s car. Its combination of sports car performance, zero emissions, exceptional refinement, and all-wheel drive SUV usability and practicality make I-PACE the stand-out choice in its segment.
A 90kWh lithium-ion battery enables a range of up to 470km (WLTP) and is capable of charging from 0-80 per cent in around 72 minutes (60kW DC). The two light, compact and efficient Jaguar-designed motors generate a combined output of 294kW and 696Nm of instant torque, delivering 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds.
Prof Sir Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, accepted the Golden Steering Wheel for the Jaguar I-PACE at the award ceremony in Berlin, and said: “As part of our ‘Destination Zero’ vision, Jaguar Land Rover is pursuing an ambitious goal: To establish an environmentally friendly closed-loop economy. The Jaguar I-PACE is the clear and creative representation of our vision – an exciting, emissions-free electric vehicle. As a British manufacturer of premium vehicles we are delighted to win the Golden Steering Wheel in the world’s most demanding and competitive premium car market.
“This award is one of many prestigious awards the I-PACE has won. We will use this validation to intensify our efforts to offer desirable and highly innovative vehicles to our customers. I thank the readers and the experts for rewarding the courage and forward thinking of our designers and engineers with their vote for the I-PACE.”
For the 43rd Golden Steering Wheel Awards, millions of readers of Auto Bild and its sister publications in over 20 European countries, together with readers of the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag chose their favourites. After the votes had been counted, the 21 finalists – three in each of the seven categories – were thoroughly tested at the Lausitz-Ring circuit by the jury of racing drivers, leading motoring journalists and other car experts, with a focus on driving dynamics, connectivity, design, and total cost of ownership.
Kia sets out new product design direction with K5
ia Motors has published exterior images of the all-new Kia K5 sedan.
The latest model offers a fresh and innovative new look for the sedan segment and showcases Kia’s bold new design direction.
The new Kia K5 brings with it a sporty, modern and bold character. The front of the car is characterized by Kia’s imposing new ‘Tiger Nose Evolution’, a wide, three-dimensional design which integrates the grille and headlamps more organically than previous iterations of the K5. The texture of the grille is modelled on the texture of shark skin which has powerful and sporty image. The grille is made with a matrix of interlocking details to give the K5 a classy and dynamic look. The K5’s new front headlamps feature a distinctive ‘heartbeat’ daytime running light signature.
Above the grille, the deeply-contoured hood and characteristic lower bumper, emphasizing the smooth lines on the front of the car and enhancing the K5’s on-road presence.
The profile of the K5 displays a greater sense of muscularity than its predecessor, with the body narrowing slightly at the midpoint between wheel arches. A distinctive crease runs the length of the K5’s body, while a dash of chrome above the car’s new frameless windows adds greater drama to its flowing, fastback roofline.
The all-new K5 is longer and wider than its predecessor. The length of the new model has been extended by 50mm to 4,905mm and the width by 25mm to 1,860 mm. The wheelbase is extended to 2,850mm providing a stable driving character. A 20mm drop in height to 1,445mm creates a low-slung sporty profile.
The back of the K5 has a new rear-combination lamp design which provides a sporty silhouette mirrored by the three-dimensional design of the K5’s subtle rear wing. The unique rear light signature mirrors the slender ‘heartbeat’ motif found at the front of the car, while the flash of chrome from the roofline loops around the base of the rear screen, unifying the side and rear profile.
The K5 will be available with a range of new 19-, 18-, 17- or 16-inch machine-cut aluminum alloy wheel designs with from gloss black to dark gray and light gray.
The new-generation K5 will go on-sale in the brand’s domestic Korean market in December.
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