The Nigerian Senate has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release the sum of $717,478,606, which is currently trapped in the country and belongs to airlines. The Senate also urged the CBN to allocate $25 million to airlines operating in Nigeria through its dollar auction.
These resolutions were reached following the consideration and adoption of a motion titled “Current Issues on Airlines Blocked Funds in Nigeria,” sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation.
During the session, Senator Bala Allah, the Vice Chairman of the Committee, presented the motion on behalf of Senator Olujimi. The Senate further appealed to the federal government to urgently address the increasing trend of airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria.
In addition, the Senate called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to ensure the payment of the blocked funds to the affected airlines. The upper chamber also urged airlines operating in the country to refrain from withdrawing their services while efforts are being made to resolve the issue.
Senator Na’Allah, who moved the motion, highlighted the challenges faced by airlines in repatriating their funds from Nigeria since January 2021. He noted that in February alone, Nigeria accounted for 44 percent of the total airlines’ blocked funds worldwide.
As of March, the total amount of blocked funds in Nigeria stood at $717,478,606, consisting of matured bids pending delivery by the CBN, bids that are yet to mature, and cash balances in airlines’ accounts for repatriation. Senator Na’Allah emphasized that the prolonged retention of these funds has negative consequences, including the unavailability of cheap tickets in Nigeria due to taxes and inflation eroding profits. As a result, neighboring countries benefit from affordable tickets because they promptly repatriate funds.
Senators unanimously supported the motion and approved the prayers put forward during the voice vote presided over by Senate President Ahmad Lawan. The resolution seeks to address the challenges faced by airlines and ensure the timely release of their blocked funds, thereby promoting a conducive operating environment for the aviation industry in Nigeria.