21 Apr

Daily Watch – More Nigerians turn to the bottle, Unions battle Arik

  • Heineken’s first quarter results have shown that Nigerians are drinking more beer than they did this time last year. The volume of beer consumed by Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe, grew by 4.6 percent in Q1, most of the increase coming from Nigeria and Ethiopia. “In Nigeria volume was flattered by an easy comparative given the election in the same period last year; cycling the forthcoming quarters will be more difficult,” the report said, but added that the challenging state of the Nigerian economy, as regards foreign exchange, is impacting its business adversely. “It is becoming increasingly challenging to obtain hard currency in the market, and the uncertainty regarding a possible devaluation of the Naira continues to impact the business adversely.”
  • The National Primary Health Care Development Agency says government spending on immunisation is expected to top $345 million a year by 2022 when international funding support from the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) is completely withdrawn. Nigeria lost GAVI support after becoming the biggest economy in Africa, making us ineligible for vaccine support meant for third-world countries. NPHCDA executive director, Dr Muhammad Ado, said with donor support, full immunisation for children costs Nigeria an estimated $230 million yearly, but only around $85m to $90m is paid by Nigeria, the rest by donors. The $345m, rising due to introduction of new vaccines and the growing population of children who need immunisation, is expected to be funded domestically. Ado cited research which shows that every dollar spent on immunisation brings back $6 in direct return and $14 in indirect returns, insisting, “We want to change mindset, to view immunisation as an investment.”
  • The Vanguard is projecting that the current petrol scarcity may last longer than normal as marketers have stopped importation due to a $1 billion debt burden. The Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, Olufemi Adewole, told the paper that marketers had not imported products since December 2015 because most have not been able to secure foreign exchange due to government policy on FOREX. “Consequently, exposure to our creditors has left us with a $1 billion debt.” Adewole explained that due to the debt burden, their creditors had resorted demanding for pay in cash.
  • The operations of Nigeria’s largest indigenous airline, Arik Air, were disrupted by members of several aviation unions on Wednesday morning over an alleged N12.4 billion debt owed the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria. Scores of passengers were left stranded at the General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Arik Air’s operational base in Lagos, as early as 6.30 am as placards-carrying unionists grounded the operation of the airline. Some of the passengers were seen demanding refunds from the airline staff while others were making alternative arrangements. The union members said they resorted to blocking the airline from operating this morning after years of negotiating with the airline over the debt failed to yield any result. The spokesperson of Arik Air, Ola Banji, described the unions’ claims that Arik owed FAAN N12.4 billion as “spurious”. He added that the airline was already challenging the claim of the union members at a Federal High Court in Lagos.