Below are the headlines found on The Guardian Online Newspaper for today, Monday, 19 March, 2018.

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
Differences in passengers traffic figures in the aviation sector released by relevant government agencies may have caused revenue loss in excess of N6.7 billion in 2017 alone.

While the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) estimated the total number of passengers that used the airport as 11.22 million, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), courtesy of figures supplied by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), put the number at 13.4 million.

The difference of about 2.2 million accounts for at least N34.8 billion gap in total ticket sales and N6.7 billion in net earnings from the mandatory five per cent charge on each ticket sold that goes to the five regulatory agencies.

Keen observers of the development have alleged “consistent manipulations of traffic figures by NCAA’s consultants” in the last 10 years. The difference in net earnings, an expert argued, is one of the reasons the critical agencies are underfunded, undermining safety of airlines and air travellers.

But the apex regulatory body, NCAA, has denied any conflict in traffic figures, loss of earnings and the use of consultants to compute its figures.

Part 12 (1) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Acts (CAA) 2006 assigns the agency the task to collect, on behalf of itself and four other aviation agencies, five per cent charge on all the passenger tickets sold by the airlines, air chartered services charges and cargo freight charges, among others.

The money is for boosting the safety of infrastructure, services and human capital development in the aviation sector. By sharing, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) gets 23 per cent, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) gets three per cent, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) is allotted seven per cent and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) gets nine per cent. The rest is allocated to NCAA.

NCAA’s executive summary of international and domestic flight operations in 2017 shows a total of 11.22 million passengers, indicating 26 per cent drop from 15.23 million passengers recorded in 2016. Of the 11.22 million, 5.53 million were inbound while 5.69 were outbound passengers. And of the outbound, 1.83 million were international while domestic passengers were 3.87 million.

Should each international passenger pay an average of N300, 000, it would amount to N549 billion in ticket sales and N27.4 billion as five per cent ticket service charge. Also, should each local passenger pay an average of N20, 000 per ticket, it would amount to N77.4 billion in ticket sales and N3.9 billion five per cent cut. The five per cent ticket charge will therefore be N31.3 billion.

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
Conflicting interpretations are trailing the Supreme Court’s verdict on the new wards created by the Cross Rivers State government to ensure that the remnants of Bakassi are not disenfranchised.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared that the court did not permit election to be conducted in the three new Ikang wards of Bakassi as created by Law Number 7, 2007 of the state.

INEC said that the apex court, in its judgment, had rather set aside the state law, thereby rendering it null and void.

But this interpretation is not going down well with the state government, which is alleging that some persons must have read the judgment upside down.

To the state government, what the judgment says is that INEC should do the needful by ensuring that the people of Bakassi participate in elections.

The national electoral body had disallowed election in the wards created by the state from Akpabuyo Local Government Area as new wards under the New Bakassi, following the ceding of the main Bakassi to Cameroon in 2007.

The ceding caused the people of Bakassi in Nigeria to be left with reduced population and land mass, hence the state created three new wards from Ikang to make up the new Bakassi.

INEC had argued that the new wards under New Bakassi were unconstitutional hence no election could take place there except under Akpabuyo. The commission claimed no House of Assembly has the constitutional power to create, alter or delineate state constituency and compel the electoral body to obey the same.

Not pleased with this stand, the state government, through some people of Bakassi, took INEC to the Federal High Court in Calabar seven years ago and won. INEC contested the verdict at the Appeal Court and also lost. The commission proceeded to the Supreme Court and won.

Though the apex court recognised the fact that states have powers to adjust boundaries between local governments within a state for the purposes of development, it said the adjustment could not be for elections, therefore, the commission could not be compelled to obey the Law No. 7 of Cross River State.

Making a clarification on the matter in Calabar at the weekend, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Frankland Briyai said: “The state cannot delineate for INEC or the Federal Government as this is the exclusive right of the National Assembly and the Supreme Court in the last paragraph of its judgment set aside Law Number 7 of the Cross River State.

“By implication, the law is null and void. INEC cannot do election in Bakassi as it affects the newly created wards based on the Supreme Court judgment, however, I will await directives from the headquarters. The reports in the media are misleading, people should get the copy of the judgment and read.”

A former REC in the state, Mr. Mike Igini, who was joined in the matter, said:

‘The order of the Court of Appeal that the appellants should obey Cross River State Law No.7 of 2007 and conduct its election and register voters based on state constituencies created by it was set aside. So all those aberrations of making three wards of lkang as part of Bakassi and even changing the original ancestral names, different from what we have in our Atlas and Directory of our remuneration areas or wards are unconstitutional as affirmed by the Supreme Court and so have no effect.”

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
Vladimir Putin, predictably re-elected to a fourth term in the Kremlin, has kept the possible reshuffle of his inner circle a mystery.

From prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, long rumoured to be in the firing line, to veteran foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, here are the members of Putin’s inner circle to follow as the Russian leader begins his new term.

Dmitry Medvedev, the loyal prime minister

Chosen by Putin to lead Russia in 2008 when he was largely unknown to the public, Dmitry Medvedev never came out of the shadow of his “colleague and old friend”, as he called his superior.

After four years in office, he let Putin return to the Kremlin in a role swap that made him prime minister — a scenario prepared in advance.

Medvedev has taken a relatively marginal role in his post in recent years.

In 2017, opposition politician and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny exposed Medvedev’s wealth, unexpectedly leading to large scale opposition protests against the man who was once set to put Russia on a liberal track.

Medvedev is regularly reported to be on his way out by the Russian press.

He was absent during Putin’s low-key presidential campaign but has never been publicly disowned by his mentor, to whom he remains resolutely loyal.

Sergei Shoigu, Putin’s military man

Sergei Shoigu has become the face behind the modernisation of the Russian army — most recently associated with the “success” of the Russian war in Syria.

Defence minister since 2012, Shoigu is one of the rare members of Putin’s inner circle that does not belong to the “clan” that surrounded him when he was working in the Saint Petersburg city administration.

The 62 year-old hails from Siberia’s remote Tuva republic and proved himself a successful manager while heading the Ministry of Emergency Situations for almost 20 years, which he radically reformed.

Shoigu regularly appears next to Putin during state ceremonies, fishing trips on the Tuva river or while tracking tigers in the Russian Far East.

Sergei Lavrov, Moscow’s voice abroad

Internationally respected since his appointment as foreign minister in 2004, Sergei Lavrov has appeared tired in recent years that have been particularly turbulent for Russia’s ties with the West.

An inflexible negotiator, the 67 year-old continues to defend Moscow’s position around the world, expressing himself almost daily on the Ukrainian and Syrian crises.

Igor Sechin, the face of state capitalism

An old friend of Vladimir Putin, Igor Sechin heads the state-owned oil giant Rosneft which he has transformed into a global giant in the face of mounting personal criticism.

Often called Russia’s second most powerful man, Sechin seems untouchable. He even has the power to remove ministers, such as the former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev who opposed Rosneft’s resale of oil company Bashneft.

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
Worried by the challenge of blood transfusion for children with cancer and sickle cell, the Association of Medical Student University of Lagos (AMSUL) has organised a blood drive exercise to generate pints of blood from the university students. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
As part of its strategy to tackle the prevailing housing deficit in the country, Knightstone Properties Limited has delivered a 20-unit three bedroom terrace duplexes to Addax Petroleum Cooperative in Lagos. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
With an eye toward expanding its discerning clientele, one of nation's frontline real estate firms, Oak Homes Limited, plans to offer its affordable luxury residential property to Nigerians abroad. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC) have faulted Amnesty International's (AI's) oil spill report against them. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
Federal Government Pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), have called on the National Pension Commission (PenCom) asking for the payment of pension entitlements of workers, who retired from January 2017 till date. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
This year's Lagos International Squash Classics will serve off today at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, with top athletes ready to compete for the $20,000 prize money. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
The Shareholders of Transcorp Hotels Plc have commended the management and staff of the company for achieving an impressive financial performance for the year ended 31st December 2017. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
Yellow House has emerged winner of the third biennial inter-house sports athletics competition of the Golden Bunch Schools, located in Okota and Yaba. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
The 48th Annual National Conference (ANC) of The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers is here again and this year's Conference is tagged OYO2018 slated for 20th through 24th March, 2018 in Ibadan, Oyo State. 

Mon, 19 Mar 2018
Delta State House of Assembly has ratified a short term Certificate Discount facility valued at N1.2 billion in favour of CCC Construction Nigeria limited and Setraco Nigeria limited... 
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