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Tinubu, Shettima Other VIPs To Start Paying Access Fees At Nigerian Airports 

Tinubu and Shettima will henceforth pay required fees at toll gates whenever they use any of the airports in Nigeria.

Henceforth, President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and other top government officials will pay access fees or the e-tag at all the 24 federal airports across the country.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by the

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Management, Festus Keyamo, at the end of a two-day meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Tinubu at the State House, Abuja.

Keyamo said FEC gave approval that all exemptions for VIPs, with regards to payment for access into airports in the country, be cancelled when his ministry presented a memorandum detailing the financial losses to these exemptions.

According to him, the federal government had been losing 82% or about the N10 billion revenue that ought to be accruing from airports’ tollgates, but lamented that because of the exemption, which the VIPs have explored to escape paying what is due to government, the larger part of the actual projected revenue has been lost.

He however said Council had mandated the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to send out a service-wide circular, informing all concerned of the cancellation of the exemption, adding that his ministry would follow up on that circular with another memorandum.

His words: “No more exemption. When we came to office, we met a tradition on the ground where at the end of the year, all manners of VIPs would approach us for what they call complimentary e-tags or complimentary stickers. Whereby you see them coming into our airports nationwide. They don’t pay the access fees. 

“They don’t pay for parking, they don’t pay for essential services at airports, and they are VIPs. And I told myself on my team, I said not under my watch. It will not happen. If this tradition has been existing for years, I will not allow it to happen. Because it is inconceivable that in our country it is the VIPs that don’t pay for services but it is the poor men that pay for services. 

“The VIPs were supposed to have money to pay for services, but they compel poor men to pay for services and I said no. So I got my team together, I said we need the backing of Council to compel everybody. In fact, guess what? Our memo says with the exception of the President and the Vice President and the President overruled me and said he and the Vice President will pay, he said everybody.

“Let me give you the shocking statistics. The negative figure that we get at the end of the day from the complimentary e-tags is 82% in the negative. In other words, where we are supposed to have a 100% contract the e-costs from these e-tags that we print, it is only 18% that we now end up selling. That is how bad it is, 18% and 82% of these e-tags are given out free of charge to VIPs. So imagine the loss at my sector and I ask myself which other sector will I go to that they give me anything free?

“I’ll give another example. In one of the access gates, based on the count of the barrier going up and down, we are supposed to be making N250 or N260 million from that get every month. That gate, because of exemptions, the return is less than N100 million every month. That also of course, breeds corruption too because now you cannot track, you cannot have the audit trail of those free tags that you now give to our people to give out to people.

“So it was approved that the SGF should send a system-wide circular to everybody. We are going to also write to everybody, be it in the judiciary, the legislature, the executive, the military high command, they can buy for their personnel yearly you don’t have to pay for every time you pass. Buy the yearly tags for all your officers, you have the money pay us, so that we can improve your services at the airport”, he said.

Keyamo also disclosed that the Council approved a memorandum for the procurement of aircraft recovery equipments, which is designed to respond to occasions of breakdown of aircrafts from the runways, like it was recently experienced in Lagos.

According to him, the ministry received the approval for the procurement of the equipments at the cost of N4.2 billion, expected to be completed within 12 months.

He said: “We got approval for that as part of ICAO’s requirements in the sum of N4.2 billion and a fraction, inclusive of VAT, with a completion period of 12 months to supply and also to train the handlers of these equipments to handle them and remove disabled aircraft from our runways”. 

Also on Tuesday, the federal government explained that the recent suspension of the controversial Cybersecurity Levy was done in order for the policy to be reviewed.

Information and National Orientation Minister, Muhammed Idris, who gave the clarification at the post-FEC briefing said “the cybersecurity levy has been suspended. It is undergoing review. It had been put on hold for now”.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had recently issued a directive to all banks and financial institutions, about the implementation of a cybersecurity levy on all electronic banking transactions.

This new levy, set at 0.5% of the value of every electronic transaction, was introduced in response to the escalating concerns over cyber threats and follows the guidelines of the recently enacted Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) (Amendment) Act 2024. 

According to the CBN, this measure was crucial for enhancing the security framework of financial operations across the country.

However, the levy drew criticism from businesses and the general public over fears that it could worsen the nation’s already dire economic situation.

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

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