Some Nigerians stranded in Accra, Ghana after their flights were diverted due to inclement weather at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos returned by road, one of the passengers has said.
Foreign airlines including British Airways and Delta Airlines had diverted their flights to Ghana and Senegal over poor visibility in Lagos.
Although the condition is said to have improved and airlines are resuming regular flight schedule, many Nigerians are said to have been unable to find their way back to the country.
A passenger onboard one of British Airways diverted flights, Michael Williams said about 300 Nigerians were abandoned in Accra.
Williams said the passengers were asked to find their way to Lagos.
According to him, the flight which was supposed to land in Lagos last week Tuesday was diverted to Accra and the passengers spent another two days before returning to Lagos on Friday night, on their own.
He said some of the affected passengers had to return to Nigeria by road as the airline offered them an option of returning to London.
Williams said, “We were supposed to land in Lagos last Tuesday, but unfortunately, there was a weather issue in Lagos and the flight diverted to Accra, Ghana.
“We went to Accra and they promised that they would try the next day, Wednesday. We were put in a hotel and we went back the next day, but they said the situation didn’t improve.
“By Thursday afternoon, we got communication from British Airways that we should go to the airport to reclaim our luggage because their aircraft had to return to London.”
He however, stated that when the passengers got to the airport, they were told that the flight had been cancelled and they should find their way to Lagos.
He said many passengers decided to return to Lagos by road.
British Airways did not comment on the issue, but according to a memo sent to passengers and obtained by The Tide airline attributed the flight diversion to adverse weather at the MMIA.
The memo read in part, “Due to adverse weather, we were unable to safely land into Lagos Airport. We regret to inform you that due to the operational constraints, we have had to cancel this flight.
“We recommend that you make your own travel arrangements to Lagos as we are unable to operate safely in the coming days.
“If you wish to travel from Accra – London Heathrow, there are a limited availability of seats to book on. Please speak with our colleagues at the airport to adjust your ticket, subject to availability.”
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had last week apologised to passengers over the diverted flights, stating that the government was working on the Instrument Landing System to allow for aircraft landing at the lowest visibility.
COVID-19: CBN Grants Two-Week Market Holidays To BDCs
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted a two- week market holidays to the Bureaux De Change operators.
This followed a request by the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria to the CBN for the regulator to grant it market holidays, given the ongoing challenges faced in local and global economies due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic.
In a notice to BDC operators and directors, ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said the CBN’s approval meant that sales of foreign exchange to BDCs is now suspended till further notice.
Gwadabe also advised the public not to go into panic buying, hoarding and partronasing the street traders as the CBN has enough reserves to sustain supplies when the BDCs return to operations.
The CBN had also acknowledged the contributions of BDCs in promoting stable exchange rate in recent months despite challenging circumstances facing the Forex market due to drop in crude oil prices.
Gwadabe advised members to observe strict guidelines on the preventive measures on the dangers of the COVID 19, wear their mask, gloves, and frequent washing of hands.
“We also want to advise members to strictly comply with their regulatory obligations on their daily operation. If you are trading, be cautious not to fall under the hand of security agencies. Don’t be involved in giving black market rates,street trading as doing so might create regulatory breach,” he said.
Gwadabe said that CBN/NFIU were tracking large movements of funds within the financial sector and noted the need to be cautious.
“Once again, accept our continuous assurances on serving you better as we continue to ponder on lasting solutions to the growing challenges facing our operations amongst them, crowd management, expansion of scope of our buisiness, lesser penalties, automation, among others,” he stated.
…Suspends Cheque Clearing Amidst Lockdown
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has suspended clearing of cheques until further notice following the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and FCT to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The suspension was announced in a circular to Deposit Money Banks and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) by the Director of Banking Services at CBN, Mr Sam Okojere.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Sunday ordered a lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT with effect from 11 p.m. on Monday, March 30 FCT), as a response to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The bank explained that in view of these developments and in furtherance to the Bank’s effort to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities, the CBN had therefore suspended it until further notice.
The apex bank further stated that the clearing of cheques instruments in the Nigerian clearing started from March and for the avoidance of doubt, no fresh cheque instrument would be allowed to pass through March 31.
The CBN noted that only returned cheque would be treated on the said date.
“However, settlement activities for electronic instruments will continue to hold during this period of suspension”, it said.
Nigeria’s Economy Fragile Before COVID-19 Pandemic –Finance Minister
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said that prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian economy was already fragile.
She said this in a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Communication, Mr Yunusa Abdullahi, on Monday in Abuja.
Ahmed, according to the statement, said this during her meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly where she spoke on implications of the global economic crisis on Nigeria.
The coronavirus pandemic had led to unprecedented disruptions to global supply chains, a sharp drop in global crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets, the lockdown of large swath movements of persons in many countries, among others.
These outcomes have had severe consequences on households’ livelihoods and business activities, resulting from drop in global demand, declined consumer confidence and slowdown in production.
But the finance minister said that prior to the outbreak which had led to decline in crude oil prices, the Nigerian economy was already fragile, vulnerable and deteriorating.
She said the global economic downturn had forced international oil prices to drop to as low as $22 per barrel.
The minister said international travels and trade had been severely disrupted, while demand for goods and services is deteriorating as a result of the social distancing policies.
This, she said had led to financial markets uncertainty which had resulted into capital flows’ reversal from emerging and frontier markets such as Nigeria.
She said, “Increasing pressure on the naira and foreign reserves as the crude oil sales receipts decline and the macroeconomic outlook worsens.
“Central Bank of Nigeria, just as in other countries, has resorted to quantitative easing, by reducing interest rates to support economic activity and governments announcing fiscal stimulus plans for healthcare and social safety nets.”
She said the government was working on a fiscal stimulus package to cushion the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable individuals and communities.
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