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IATA and trapped funds: This is beyond bullying

Nigeria's President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

By Frank Meke

International Airport Transport Association (IATA) vice president Africa and Middle East Region, kamil Al Awadhi is more interested in rubbishing Nigeria than finding a way to patiently resolve the issue of foreign airlines trapped funds in Nigeria.

Nigeria is, at date, not owing, but has in its financial cycle about 792 million United States dollars, which belongs to foreign airlines doing business in Nigeria. Yes, when you trap or cap a fund owned by a legitimate organisation doing business in your country, it could be very uncomfortable, but the truth is that Nigeria has been paying.

Sadly, it may not be at a pace expected by the owners of this funds, and in this case, IATA, what however, has become discomforting is the deliberate mischief, bullying, and wholesale blackmail employed by kamil Al Awadhi to address this issue .

Unfortunately, Nigeria is not saying anything, and even where information is offered, it’s obviously scanty and pedestrian, and to which Awadhi cleverly swings to batter Nigeria’s image and play Harod.

The IATA man’s recent diatribe and vicious onslaught against Nigeria at the IATA Geneva, Switzerland World Press Conference is sad and painful. Again and again, as he would always do at any given opportunity, Awadhi picked up on Nigeria and dressed us down even while admitting that Egypt, Ethiopia, and Algeria are also owing IATA.

I am gravely concerned about the damage kamil Al Awadhi is doing to Nigeria’s image, particularly against the efforts of our new president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to attract investments and investors to Nigeria

Awadhi, in his single-minded intent and mission to paint Nigeria black before the world, Awadhi has not bothered to also tell the international community and the travelling public why IATA fares out of Nigeria is also the highest in the world.

A trip from London to Australia is less than one thousand pounds and lasts more than 12 hours, but lagos to London , a six hours trip is about three thousand pounds or more depending on class structure.

And with the dollar outstripping the naira in the marketplace, it’s this same IATA and its monopolistic member airlines that pushed the game to their domineering advantage and which led to serious foreign exchange scarcity and flight out Nigeria.

When the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies complained about IATA’ s free run underhand deals, it is this kamil Al Awadhi that called for a truce to find a way to sort out the Trapped funds matter and now turn around to demarket Nigeria.

Kamil Awadhi, while addressing the global aviation sector media, stated Nigeria apart from owing IATA, is also an unprofitable destination with the highest cost of aviation fuel, Insurance with two airports with the most expensive tax regimes in the world without telling the world the gains which most foreign airlines have enjoyed doing business in Nigeria.

This piece is by no means a denial of our very peculiar but surmountable challenges, It is however regrettable that we have businesses operating in Nigeria that have no viable and viable investment in the country, milking our people dry but would only cry wolf when they experience little difficulties.

It’s even more disturbing when people like Kamil Awadhi deliberately sniggered and singled out our government officials as he did in Geneva when he noted that foreign airlines Carry Nigerian officials on their flights yet our government officials cannot break through the central banks to get IATA member airlines their money.

I really don’t know what Awadhi meant by that stupid statement. Maybe he is saying IATA may have tried to compromise its way through protocol since it appeared that getting the trapped funds has become a do or die matter to IATA and its Vice president Africa and Middle East.

I won’t be surprised if kamil Awadhi will spill out the beans on those government officials whom he alleged ” flew” these foreign airlines, possibly on pro bono with promises to “hack” through central Bank of Nigeria to get the funds out but serially failed.

A desperate Awadhi agreed and admitted that there is a new CBN governor and aviation minister who were sympathetic to the issues at hand but have craved for time to go through the files, ask relevant questions,and then engage IATA to resolve the matter but the bitter and dark soul in Kamil Al Awadhi won’t wait or be circumspect in his all righteous pursuit of IATA trapped funds in Nigeria while playing Pontius pilate on other African countries in same position as Nigeria.

Show me a desperate spoiler and hater of Nigeria, and I will point to this Africa and Middle East Region Vice president of IATA, kamil Al Awadhi.


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