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Improving Nigeria’s Airspace Safety

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The issue of airspace security is an endless problem to Nigeria. Until the weather related facilities and others at the airports are upgraded, the problem will remain unsolved.

Investigations have revealed that the air crashes that occurred between 2003 and 2006 were traceable to bad weather and that is why most flights are delayed or canceled at the airports.

Government at several times has expressed worry and concern about the negative impact of weather on aircraft movement and efforts are being stepped up to ensure the establishment and resuscitation of four additional upper air stations at Enugu, Kano, Lagos and Maiduguri.

With the increase in the number of upper air stations from one in Abuja to five, there are plans to establish additional three before the end of this year to ensure safety in the nation’s airspace.

The Director-General of Nigeria Meteological Agency (NIMET), Dr. Anthony Anuforom said that in the past few years, the agency has re-equipped over 40 weather observatories nationwide with conventional instruments.

According to him, there are plans to construct nine new synoptic station buildings in Abakaliki, Azara, Benin, Damaturu, Dutse, Owerri, Masaka and Sokoto as well as Marine weather observation stations in Aiyetoro, Mahim, Bonny and Calabar.

NIMET is not relenting efforts at ensuring the procurement and installation of five satellite distribution systems in Abuja, Ikeja, Kano, Owerri, Port Harcourt and Sokoto while the one for Maiduguri will be installed soon. Already, the agency has procured and installed seven lighting and thunderstorm detectors in Kaduna, Ibadan, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kano and Yola, in addition to the procurement and installation of 6 integrated aviation weather observatory and display systems in Enugu, Ilorin, Owerri, Katsina, Calabar and Maiduguri airports.

This year, NIMET inaugurated the National Weather Forecasting and Climate Research Centre, a world-class infrastructure at the Abuja Airport and prior to that, the agency in 2008 implemented a number of projects designed to improve the quality of its services.

These projects include the development and deployment of a new and indigenous weather information transmission system called e-Met, establishment and resuscitation of four additional upper air stations at Enugu, Kano, Maiduguri and Oshodi, Lagos.

So far, the number of functional air stations has increased from one in Abuja from 2008 to five.

and before the end of this year, three new ones will be established in Calabar, Jos and Yola.

Some of the projects accomplished to improve air safety are the extensive rehabilitation of NIMET complex in Oshodi, additional classroom and hostel facilities at the |Regional Training Centre, Oshodi, construction and equipping of a new instrument calibration workshop at Abuja. The agency has also successfully installed a Low Level Wind Shear Alert System |(LLWAS) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos while the Site Acceptance Test (SAT) for this system was completed on July 12 and the system is now operational.

This is the first in the history of aviation in Nigeria that the MMIA is equipped with this critical safety equipment.

The aviation industry in Nigeria witnessed its darkest period between 2003 and 2006 when several aircraft accidents occurred resulting in loss of lives and reports on these unfortunate incidents proved that wind shear was a contributory factory in some of them.

Although aviation has been proven to be the safest and fastest means of transportation, the spate of air crashes at that time created unnecessary panic and anxiety and had negative impact or effect on the confidence of Nigerians in air travel, it has, therefore, become necessary for the Federal Government, especially the Ministry of Aviation and its parastatals or agencies to take more serious measures towards ensuring the safety and security of our airspace.

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Aviation

COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff

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At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.

This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.

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S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS

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South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.

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Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as “extremely fruitful” the meeting which a presidential team had with leaders and stakeholders of the South-East.
“The meeting of the presidential delegation with South-East leaders was very useful,’’ Mohammed told journalists on Sunday in Enugu.
The delegation, led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, met for more than eight hours in Enugu with selected South-East leaders.
Mohammed said that it was quite instructive that all the groups which took part in the meeting believed in the unity and oneness of the country, pointing out that they clearly spelt out this in their presentations.
“We listened clearly and carefully to all the positions and demands and we are going back to report directly to President Buhari,’’ the minister said.
He noted that the Federal Government had been spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country, simultaneously and equitably.
“We want the South-East people to be confident that the Federal Government is spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country equitably and will never marginalise any zone in the ongoing development and infrastructure agenda.
“This is what I want to assure Nigerians living in the South-East,’’ Mohammed noted.
According to the minister, when the team gets back to Abuja it will see what can be done immediately concerning some of the positions and demands made by the South-East leaders.
The presidential delegation met with South-East governors, statesmen, elders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as market women and youth leaders.

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