• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Dangote’s refinery, Onyema’s Air Peace hold bright hope for Nigeria’s future – Agbakoba

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…Tunde Rahman, Presidential aide, hails Onyema

…Private sector group rallies round Air Peace, urges FG to step up, protect national interest

Olisa Agbakoba, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has said that the Nigerian economy had begun to turn the corner for good.

Agbakoba pointed out that the economic activities of two prominent citizens were responsible for the feat so far recorded.

The Maritime lawyer noted that there may be signals the economy may be turning.

According to him, “Dangote refinery commenced sales of diesel, increasing supply and crashing prices significantly. Diesel prices dropped from about ₦1,700 per litre to around ₦1,350 per litre. This was just by pumping 100 million litres.

“Dangote plans to pump another 100 million litres. Diesel prices may dip below N1000. Dangote announced plans to begin sale of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by May. This will significantly bring down prices. Experts predict petrol prices to crash by at least 25 percent to N400.”

Also noting the positive role Allen Onyema’s Air Peace is playing in the aviation industry and the reaction of the forex market to the activities in that space, Agbakoba said: “With the support of Festus Keyamo, minister of Aviation, finally broke through the reciprocity barrier in aviation. Air Peace is now flying to the United Kingdom (UK). Ticket prices monopolised by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic crashed by at least 60percent.

“The forex market reacted to all these. The Naira strengthened against the dollar. Experts suggest the price of the dollar may well fall below ₦1000 in the coming months. If this trend continues, much-needed relief for Nigerians will occur. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may potentially review the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by Q4.”

The Senior Advocate also said: “It is notable that the turning points now witnessed in the economy, is the work of just two persons (Dangote and Onyema). Imagine what 10, 20 or 50 private sector individuals can do. This raises the issue of putting the private sector at the centre of economic development. Government must withdraw from business. We must move immediately from consumption to production. Q4, 2024, may look on the bright side but it is still early days.”

In a release he personally signed, ‘Is the Economy Beginning to Turn?’ Agbakoba noted that “Nigeria’s economy has gone through very challenging times over the past year. Inflation reached 28.92 percent in December 2023, the highest in 27 years. Food inflation rose to 33.93percent in December 2023.”

According to him, “the naira depreciated significantly, losing 25percent of value in a single day in June 2023 when the government removed pegging to the US dollar. This made imports much more expensive.

“Removal of fuel subsidies in May 2023 caused petrol prices to jump by 196percent practically overnight, from ₦189 to ₦557 per litre. Prices went through the roof!

“According to the World Bank, accelerating inflation pushed an additional 24 million Nigerians into poverty in the first five months of 2023. By late 2022, 63percent of Nigerians (133 million people) were considered multi-dimensionally poor.

“Major foreign companies like Procter & Gamble, GSK, and Bayer stopped manufacturing and scaled back operations in Nigeria, due to tough operating environment. This resulted in massive job losses.”

BusinessDaySunday gathered that it was not only Agbakoba that has noticed the positive things going on at Air Peace.

Emulate Allen Onyema, Tunde Rahman counsels

In his tribute recently during the 72-birthday anniversary of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Tunde Rahman, a senior presidential aide, had noted that: “It has become compelling that as citizens, we must continue to play our part. The example of Lawyer and Businessman, Allen Onyeama’s Air Peace and its gallant intervention, which helped to crash the airfares on the lucrative Lagos-London route, is there for all of us to emulate.”

At a meeting of private sector operators a few days ago, an ample time was voted to discuss the Air Peace exploits. Participants were unanimous that the Nigerian government must do whatever it would take to support the airline.

An elated member of the group said: “This thing is war. We should be clear-eyed about this and know that Nigeria (not just Air Peace) simply cannot afford to lose. Let us not be deceived into thinking this is only about an airline flying to London.

“The aviation business is cut-throat and governments play very deeply in it. Just look at the history of Boeing, Airbus, Emirates, BA, Pan-Am, Delta, United, Singapore Airlines, Ethiopian, etc. We need to win this fight. The FG must step up and protect our national interest without fear or equivocation.”

All the members at the meeting were in agreement that, “this is a National battle for existential survival, not just for the traveling Nigerians, but for our image, honour and reputation.”

In summary, the chairman of the meeting, admonished: “On the commercial/business side of the battle, we all need a DELIBERATE plan to fly Nigeria in this case.

“This is enlightened self-interest. When we have done our bit and Air Peace does not deliver, then we can turn our angst on them.

“This goes beyond Air Peace and aviation – this might be the catalyst to make us take: Buy Nigeria; Use Nigeria; Wear Nigeria; Drive Nigeria, Eat Nigeria, etc, more seriously.”