Last week, Rivers State Government and the management of Ethiopian Airlines reached an agreement in principle for the operation of permanent international flights from the Port Harcourt International Airport. The agreement is however, subject to the approval of the relevant federal agencies.
Rivers State Governor Chief Nyesom Wike led a high powered delegation of the state government to the headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and Thursday last week where they met with representatives of the management of the airlines and deliberated on the issue.
The Chief Commercial Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Esayas Wolde Marian, in an address, said Ethiopian Airlines has agreed to fly permanently from Port Harcourt International Airport.
He solicited for the assistance of the Rivers State Governor to enable the airline get the nod of relevant federal agencies.
He said: “ We are willing and capable to fly into Port Harcourt on a regular basis. For now we have exhausted our bilateral Air Agreement Approval and we need another approval to operate the Port Harcourt route.
“ We need your help to ensure that approval comes from the federal authorities. At least there should be a temporary operating permit, pending the final approval “.
He promised that Ethiopian Airlines will also embark on advertisements to promote Port Harcourt as a tourism and investment destination.
In his response, Governor Wike declared the willingness of the state government to provide an enabling environment for Ethiopian Airlines to operate in the state and assured that he will meet with the Minister of Aviation to ensure that Port Harcourt International Airport is approved for Ethiopian Airlines as a destination.
He disclosed that his administration is working towards making Port Harcourt a regional air transport hub for greater economic development of the state.
Governor Wike said: “ As we therefore consolidate on our achievements, we want to also focus on making Port Harcourt city a regional air transport hub through the Private Public Partnership approach while leveraging on existing aviation infrastructure and related market and other advantages of the state.
“ I wish to assure you that we are willing to do everything within our powers and spheres of authority and influence to facilitate the realisation of your interest and desire to directly and sustainably fly from Port Harcourt to Addis Ababa and other parts of the world.
The state Chief Executive thanked the management of the airlines for its interest in expanding and retaining their services in Port Harcourt adding that Rivers State Government will offer it’s social partnership, goodwill and support.
He noted that Port Harcourt city is strategically located to serve as a transit point for the entire South South and parts of the SouthEast.
The Governor also stated that the state government will sponsor indigenes of Rivers State to study at the Ethiopian Aviation Academy, a subsidiary of Ethiopian Airlines.
Stressing that benefit derivable from the partnership are in many areas, the governor said as an emerging regional aviation hub, there was the need to train aviation professionals.
Wike directed his Executive Assistant on Research and Documentation, Dr Jacob Beredugo and Professor Kaisirm Nwuke, a Rivers professional working with an international agency in Ethiopia to liaise with the management of Ethiopian Airlines to actualise the goals of Rivers State Government/Ethiopian Airlines partnership.
Governor Wike was accompanied on the trip to Addis Ababa by the Former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt Hon Austin Opara, PDP Chairman of Rivers State, Bro Felix Obuah, the Director General, Rivers State Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr Thompson Emmanuel, a former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Felix Nwaeke, former chairman of Eleme Local Government Council, Chief Ejor N. Ejor, and President of Port Harcourt Investors and Entrepreneurs Forum , Ibifiri Bob- Manuel.
Another major event last week was inspection of ongoing projects by the governor, last Friday . He inspected hostels of the newly constituted Real Madrid Football Academy, Port Harcourt and ongoing road projects in the Phase 11 GRA.
The Governor urged contractors to ensure that they deliver their work on schedule.
The governor was accompanied by the Administrator of Greater Port Harcourt City Authority, Ambassador Desmond Akawor.
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Bode George Urges FG To Relax Lagos Lockdown
A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George has urged federal government to relax the lockdown it imposed on Lagos State as a result of COVID- 19 pandemic.
George, who made the call in a statement in Lagos, yesterday said the lockdown imposed since March 29 was adversely affecting livelihoods and bringing up security challenges.
He said though government intended to curb the spread of the virus with the lockdown, the directive had left many Nigerians hungry at home without palliatives.
The PDP chieftain noted that there must be a balance between curbing the spread of the virus and protecting livelihoods and asked the government to relax the lockdown while putting safety measures in place.
“Everywhere in Lagos is now locked down. The markets, banking halls, the local grocery shops, the supermarkets, the transportation services are all halted, frozen by the federal government directives since March 29.
“On the surface level, the federal government’s position is to ensure safety, prevent communal spread of the virus and banish this scourge from our shores.
“Lagosians have been staying at home for about a month now. In a largely informal economy where most of our people depend on daily wages, the burden of lack of income is devastating.
“There is a natural growing anger in Lagos as the most vulnerable are ravaged with hunger,” George said.
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