*IYAYI BACKS MERGER OF AVIATION AGENCIES
The Chief Executive of Top Brass Aviation and former Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Captain Ronald Iyayi, has thrown his weight behind the merger of some agencies with similar responsibilities in the aviation Industry.
This, according to Captain Iyayi, who spoke with WESTERN POST in Lagos, will help in reducing the cost of management and governance in the sector.
He said from his own point of view agencies the Nigerian Air Space Management Agency (NAMA) and Nigerian Meteorological Services (NIMET) could be merged but the Nigerian civil Aviation Authority should remain as a regulatory body of oversight in the industry.
Captain Iyayi further explained that if the restructuring is effected, then any failure of the NCAA to carry out its regulatory objectives would mean total disregard for rules guiding the International Civil Aviation Organization and Federal Aviation Authority of the United States of America (FAA).
The former NAMA Managing Director said lack of stability in administration of the aviation industry would not enhance growth, adding that arbitrary changes in leadership frustrate management with good ideas and intentions and stunt the growth of most agencies in the sector.
While commending previous administrations in the aviation industry over the edifice put in place, Iyayi observed discrepancies in facilitating the airlift of passengers compared to other airports in the world, adding that Nigerian airports with beautiful buildings and terminals lack the necessary facilities that will speed flight operations and remove long queue by passengers when travelling.
He called on the Federal Government to provide adequate facilities at nation’s airports and give autonomy to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority so that maintaining the status of Category I will not be difficult for the country.
*BAT CALLS FOR TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION AS PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY
As the world celebrates the World-No-Tobacco-Day on May 31, leading cigarette-manufacturing company, British American Tobacco (BAT), has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments around the world to adopt a policy of tobacco harm reduction as a more progressive approach to tobacco regulation.
BAT’s Head, Corporate Affairs for West Africa, Mrs. Soromidayo George, said WHO’s estimates suggest there are now one billion smokers across the globe and by 2050 this number could increase to 2.2billion.
Director of Corporate & Regulatory Affairs of BAT, Kingsley Wheaton, said: “For governments seeking to reduce tobacco use, we believe it is time for new, more progressive approaches to be considered. One such solution is to offer adult smokers a choice of substantially less risky products such as e-cigarettes.
“This approach is what many refer to as ‘Tobacco Harm Reduction’. However, for this to work, governments and the public health community need to embrace this concept and the products that support it.
Recent media reports suggest that less risky nicotine products such as e-cigarettes could be classified as tobacco products by the WHO.
This could see governments eventually subjecting e-cigarettes to hefty excise duty, public smoking bans and severe marketing restrictions, all of which would hamper their growth and development”.
Wheaton said further: “If e-cigarettes are classified as tobacco products, then the associated regulatory hurdles will mean smokers will find it harder to access less risky alternatives – this can only be a bad thing for public health.
“We hope the arguments being made by the scientific community, the industry and public health campaigners will demonstrate the need for policy makers to carefully consider the benefits of tobacco harm reduction and give it their full support.”
British American Tobacco invests approximately £170million per year in research and development which is enabling it to develop an expanding range of alternative tobacco and nicotine products including the launch of its first e-cigarette, Vype.
OGUN PAYS N17BN AS PENSIONS, GRATUITIES
Over N17 billion has been paid as pensions and gratuities since the inception of the Senator Ibikunle Amosun led administration in Ogun State in May 2011.
The state’s Head of Service, Mrs. Modupe Adekunle, disclosed this in Abeokuta, the state capital, while fielding questions from newsmen at the 2014 Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third year anniversary of the Amosun government.
Adekunle said over N12.2 billion had been paid to pensioners while gratuities totaling over N5.5 billion, including the back-log owed by the immediate-past administration, had been paid as at date.
She added that government had fully implemented the Contributory Pension Schedule for all officers employed since January 1, 2008 till date.
On employment, Adekunle revealed that 10,504 unemployed citizens of the state were recruited or empowered in one way or the other as at May 2012, 967 in 2013 while 296 candidates who were successful during the 2013 Civil Service Selection (ASCON) were also issued letters of appointment.
“In the same vein, the Civil Service Commission recruited 459 officers into various cadres as replacement of those that retired from the service so as to beef up the staff strength in special areas,” Adekunle said.
The Head of Service also noted that promotions of public servants had been made as and when due, revealing that no fewer than 2,141 officers were promoted for the 2013 promotion exercise just as 742 of their counterparts in the parastatals were also promoted.
Meanwhile, the state government has said improvement in resource management and budget discipline towards increasing the level of productivity and accountability would continue to be given utmost priority.
The state Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mrs. Oluwande Muoyo, said this was to ensure an overall reduction of the cost of governance in Ogun State.
The commissioner, in her own presentation at the 2014 Ministerial Press Briefing, said this necessitated the launch of the state Public Financial Management (PFM) Reform Agenda in May 2013.
She said since the launch of the reform, significant achievements had been recorded in the area of control and preventive vigilance on payroll preparation in which a substantial amount had been recovered while the certification of pay analysis reports and nominal roll by the accounting officer of each agency of government was strictly adhered to, which enhanced integrity of the pay roll.
ARE BANK CHARGES EXPLOITATIVE?
•Group seeks debate among students, urges savings culture
By Bankole Adeshina, Lagos
AS part of proactive steps to stamp out poverty and unemployment from the land, Nigerian women, under the auspices of the Association of Professional Women Bankers in Nigeria, have urged parents to start introducing savings culture to their wards.
The group said no matter how little it might be, it was pertinent for every child to cultivate the habit of opening a savings account with any of the banks and start depositing some meagre amount of money, preparatory to any eventuality tomorrow.
The submissions were made at this year’s secondary schools debate competition on the topic: Bank Charges Are Exploitative: True or False?” organised by APWB, in conjunction Prolific Micro-Finance Bank, and powered by the Agege Local Government Chairman, Alhaji Jubril Abdulkareem.
The event was also explored to lend the organisation’s voice to the need for government and its international partners to hasten up their strategies in ensuring the quick location and safe return of the Chibok’s kidnapped school girls back to their anxiously waiting parents.
However, with more than ten participating schools, across private and public secondary, the keenly contested intellectual exercise promoted a robust argument and as well as created rich awareness about the mode of operations of the nation’s financial institutions among the students.
For instance, those in support of the argument insisted that the charges levied on customers by their banks were too “ridiculously nominal” compared to the amount of risks involved in keeping other peoples’ monies amidst frequent bank robbery attacks and the expensive infrastructures needed to be procured in discharging the service effectively.
According to Ms. Diane Bintu, the lead speaker from Abiks High School, who later won the competition, “there was need for the banks to pay their staff; procure modern banking infrastructure such as counting machines, fake notes detectors, CCTV cameras, ICT gadgets, tellers, operate in conducive environment that is constantly lit and fully air conditioned and as well as bankroll many of their Corporate Social Responsibility’s activities, which include award of scholarships, issuance of soft loans to poor and vulnerable women and empowerment programme for the youths. All these come from the meagre charges levied on the customers.”
Unlike the first runners-up, Aminat Habeeb from Barachel Group of School, the second runners up, Olaiya Samuel of Anwar Islam College, argued that contrary to the guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria, many banks have continued to defraud their unsuspecting customers through countless hidden and illegitimate charges.