Some airport users in Abuja on Wednesday advised the Federal Government not to relent in its efforts to ensure speedy completion of the remodelling work on the country’s airports.
They spoke with our correspondent at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
A pastor, Mr Jason Nworah, commended the Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, and the Federal Government for undertaking to make the airports world-class.
He said the most important thing was for the government to fulfill all its promises to Nigerians in the aviation sector.
“The minister is doing well in this sector, but she needs to improve on her regulation process to get airlines to be responsible for luggage missing in transit.
“She ought to conduct intensive research to ascertain the circumstances leading to the collapse of the Nigerian Airways to avoid future occurrence,’’ he said.
Gov. Jonah Jang of Plateau also expressed appreciation to the minister for the rehabilitation work on the airports, especially the Yakubu Gowon International Airport in Jos.
“A very fantastic job is going on there, I appreciate what the minister is doing there right now and I’ve seen what she’s doing in other airports in the country too; I rate her as the best minister of aviation in recent time.
“We have finished the design of the protocol lodge of the Jos airport, and we are looking forward to holding discussions with the minister to see if we can expand the runway so that bigger aircraft can use it.
“We are also discussing with the minister of agriculture to see how we can make Jos Airport an export zone for agricultural produce; you can see that we are working in synergy with the Ministry of Aviation,’’ Jang said.
A foreigner, Ms Ann Doglas, who is on a visit to Nigeria, said the country’s aviation industry would become one of the best in the world if the government could complete the renovation of the domestic airports and ensure that infrastructure and equipment functions well.
“With the new development, especially the renovation of the airports, I believe foreigners will be attracted to do business with the Nigerian aviation sector.
“It’s obvious that the Nigerian government is putting in efforts to improve the standard of the aviation sector in line with international standard, but there is also the need to improve on the services rendered to passengers.
“More attention needs to be paid to the runways for them to function well for night landing,’’ Doglas said.
A passenger Mrs Ngosi Okoh,travelling to Enugu, said she could not believe the airports could be transformed to a modern one within such a short period.
“I just pray that this good job will not stop after the speech made by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I am happy that good things are coming to us, but passengers are still being cheated by the airline operators who steal their properties.’’
COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff
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.
S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS
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.
Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders
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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