Nigerians angry over Ports Authority’s shocking flight rates to staff

NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman
NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman

A leaked internal memo showing details of amount payable to staff of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for domestic air travel has angered Nigerians.

The leaked memo, trending on social media, shows details of how the NPA management approved different sums for domestic air travels around the country.

The memo, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, contains amounts many social media users described as “outrageous”.

The memo dated January 4, 2020, titled “Review of Airfare Rates (Local)”, was signed by the General Manager Corporate and Strategic Planning, A. A Jato.

“The Division has observed the recent hike in the prices of local tickets across the country,” the memo reads. “In view of the above and in order to keep abreast with the reality of our times, it is hereby recommended that the rates for local flights be reviewed upwards accordingly as detailed below.”

Details of the memo contained the revised airfare rates across various routes with prices for business and economy classes. The new rates approved showed the sum of N250,000 and N200,000 for Lagos to Abuja flight for business and economy classes, respectively. The same was the arrangement for Lagos to Calabar and Benin.

The sum of N300,000 was approved for business class on Lagos to Maiduguri and Lagos to Port Harcourt routes. Similarly, the sum of N320,000 was approved for a business class passenger return ticket from Lagos to Yola and N290,000 for economy class on the same route.

On the Lagos-Sokoto route, N260,000 was approved for business class ticket while economy ticket to cost the N240,000.

Business class fares for Owerri and Ilorin had sums of N200,000 and N180,000 respectively, the lowest according to the memo. The sums of N180,000 and N150,000 were approved for economy seats, respectively, on both routes.

Nigerians react

Meanwhile, the memo and its content have generated debates among Nigerians generally, and especially, on social media. Many users criticised the NPA management and the ruling All Progressives Congress for the decision.

Checks by PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday showed that the prices of one-way flight tickets for economy moved between N21,000 and N25,000 on many of the nation’s airlines. The amount for business class was quite higher, averaging N45,000 and N50,000 in some cases. When summed up, however, the rates for round-trips were quite lower, averaging N45,000 or less for one-way and N100,000 and above for business class.

A twitter user, @Uwakings, wrote: “This memo is what staff of NPA get as reimbursement for flight tickets for local travel. This is a show of the depth of corruption is our system. People getting 300k for something that cost about 50 to 100k. When Pmb start fighting corruption we will know.

Another commentator, @ije12002, described the approval as ‘ridiculous. “The ridiculous amount for domestic flight tickets for staff of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). Did Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman approved (sic) this?”, she wrote. “The same thing @MBuhari and his @OfficialAPCNg members accused Diezani Alison-Madueke of.”

NPA Speaks

PREMIUM TIMES efforts to reach the NPA Monday proved abortive as the telephone number of the spokesperson remained unreachable.

Calls and a text message to the managing director of the agency, Hadiza Usman, were not answered.

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But Mr Jatto, General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communication, told The Nation newspaper that the issue is about staff matters, adding that “people are only looking at the airfare approved on the surface”.

He also attributed the hike to VAT increment and its attendant effect on the prices of major goods and services, adding that the new rate contains transportation to and from the airport as well as other expenses that may be incurred during air travel.

“I cannot start including all these breakdowns into the memo to the MD,” he was quoted as saying by The Nation. “Besides, the airfare will be paid directly into the traveller’s account. For approval on airfare for travellers on business class, it is just for a few people like the MD, Board members and other very senior management staff of the NPA. This category of people are not frequent travellers. So, that is the truth about it.”

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