Nigeria has selected a consortium including Egypt Air to set up an aviation leasing company as part of a government plan to overhaul the country’s aviation sector. Decades of neglect and a lack of investment have left Nigeria with low-quality infrastructure seen as a hurdle to economic development. The government has said upgrading infrastructure will require private investment. It has been seeking private partners to set up an aircraft leasing company to help domestic and African carriers obtain new planes. The Ministry of Aviation said the aviation leasing company will be a private/public partnership. The new company will initially lease aircraft from international lessors and then lease them on to domestic operators. The government has said it will hold a minority stake in the company. Most airlines in Nigeria want to expand their fleets, but high financing costs and currency risks have hampered growth. Nigerian airlines’ revenues are earned in naira while most of their costs are paid in U.S. dollars. Nigeria has also said it plans to hand over its airports to private managers as a way to attract investment.

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for almost 30 years who stepped down after a popular revolution in 2011, has died. He was 91. State television reported on Tuesday he died weeks after undergoing surgery. Mubarak served as Egypt’s fourth president starting in 1981 until his ouster in what became known as the Arab Spring revolution. He was jailed for years after the uprising but was freed in 2017 after being acquitted of most charges. Mubarak was born in a rural village in the Nile Delta in 1928. He joined the Egyptian air force in 1949, graduating as a pilot the following year. He rose through the ranks to become the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian air force in 1972. Mubarak became a national hero the following year with reports that the Egyptian air force dealt a substantial blow to Israeli forces in Sinai during the Yom Kippur War. His harsh stance on security enabled him to maintain the peace treaty with Israel. Under his rule, Egypt remained a key United States ally in the region – receiving $1.3bn a year in US military aid by 2011. Mubarak, who died on Tuesday, left behind a complicated legacy. Mubarak’s rule was partly characterised by corruption, police brutality, political repression, and entrenched economic problems.

There are indications that the congestion at Nigeria’s major seaports; Apapa and Tin-Can in Lagos, is not ending any time soon because of the growing number of overtime and abandoned cargoes, clearing bottlenecks and border closure. German shipping line, Hapag-Lloyd said shipping liners have to spend more than 25 days in Apapa Container Terminal before accessing the port to discharge their cargo. This is against the 20-day process recorded earlier in the year. Data from the shipping line on its January operational report also showed that the waiting time at Tin-Can Island Container Terminal, however, has remained at over 10 days, same as last month’s figure. Shipping liners waited an average of 10-15 days in the last quarter of 2019 to access the ports and discharge their cargo, as against the seamless process obtained at the ports before the congestion began. The Nigerian Ports Authority had reported that as at October last year, APM Terminals had overtime containers numbering 2,259 boxes, equal to 3,000 TEUs. According to BusinessDay, at Ports and Terminal Multiservices Limited in Tin-Can Island, overtime cargo occupies more than 30 percent of the commercial space, which analysts in the industry said is as a result of the failed management of Nigeria Customs Service to auction such containers. Among other situations, the border closure and the recent Lagos State policy on motorcycle movement in and out of ports, are making the situation unbearable, the Managing director, Gold-Link Investment, Tony Anakebe added. Since Nigeria closed its borders with the Benin Republic in August last year, most ships with Nigerian-bound cargoes that previously berthed in ports in neighbouring countries and their cargoes subsequently smuggled into the country now come through Nigerian ports, Anakebe said.

Nigeria’s House of Representatives has voted in favour of a bill seeking to provide immunity for presiding officers of the national assembly. The constitutional amendment bill passed second reading at Tuesday’s plenary session. Though some of the lawmakers argued that the bill is not necessary as it will send a “wrong signal” to Nigerians at a time when the country is facing numerous challenges, others said it is needed to protect the legislative arm from “persecution”. Nigeria’s constitution currently guarantees immunity for only the president, governors and their deputies. The Odebunmi Olusegun sponsored bill, however, seeks to extend the immunity to the president and deputy president of the senate, speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. According to Ado-Doguwa, the majority leader and supporter of the bill, it will help the legislative chamber in carrying out their functions. Nkem Abonta from Abia state, using the case of the former Senate President Bukola Saraki as an example, said the prosecution of any of the presiding officers could affect the performance of the lawmakers.