Air Peace Awaits UAE’s Letter On Flight Slots To Dubai
Nigeria’s largest commercial airline, Air Peace, yesterday, said it was awaiting the official receipt of the reported letter from the United Arab Emirates on the concession of seven flight slots to the carrier by the UAE.
It said though media reports had earlier stated that the UAE wrote to the airline on the development, there was no official notice to that effect as of yesterday morning.
“If they (UAE) have conceded such number of slots to us they would normally write to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since is a matter between Nigeria and UAE,” a spokesperson for Air Peace, Stanley Oliseh, told said.
He added, “So, I can’t confirm that at the moment. But if need be I’ll definitely confirm it. I’m not aware such a letter got to us, although I’ve seen it flying around electronically.
“I don’t know if it leaked or if it was deliberate but I just can’t speak on that at the moment in terms of confirmation. However, once we have an update on our Dubai operations we will let the public know via our regular communication channels.”
The seeming diplomatic row between Nigeria and UAE had persisted since the outbreak of COVID-19, and it increased after the Omicron variant emerged.
On Friday, for instance, the Federal Government provided explanations on why it had to cut down the daily flights of UAE’s Emirates Airlines to just one per week to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Providing explanation for its action, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, stated that following the lifting of the ban on Emirates Airline passenger flights to Nigeria by the government, the United Arab Emirates based airline applied to Federal Ministry of Aviation for approval of its winter flight schedule.
He said the requested schedule consisted of 21 weekly passenger flight frequencies to Nigeria, comprising of two daily flights to Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, and one daily flight to Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
Nuhu said in a statement that the minister of aviation graciously approved the winter schedule as requested without any hindrance or arrival slots requirements in the spirit and intent of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and UAE.
He further stated that Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operated passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in UAE, requested for three weekly passenger flight frequencies and was granted only one weekly passenger flight frequency.
The NCAA boss stated that the director-general of General Civil Aviation Authority in the UAE attributed this action to non-availability of arrival slots at Sharjah International Airport.
Nuhu said, “Bilateral Air Services Agreement between countries is based on the principle of reciprocity for transparency and fairness to both sides.
“While Nigerian authorities approved the request of Emirates Airlines, UAE authorities acted in total disregard of the terms and provisions of the BASA between the two countries by approving one out of the three weekly passenger flight frequencies requested by Air Peace Airlines.”
Nuhu said he held a held a series of meetings with his GCAA UAE counterpart at the sidelines of the ICAO Air Negotiation Conference in Bogota, Colombia which all ended in stalemates.
“The Minister of Aviation (Nigeria) decided to apply the principle of reciprocity and withdraw the approval of the winter schedule given to Emirates Airlines and instead approved one weekly flight frequency to Abuja on Thursday,” Nuhu stated in the statement.
He said he notified the country manager of Emirates Airlines and DG GCAA of the new approved weekly passenger flight schedule.
“We want to assure the public that national interests in all aviation matters will be jealously guided and protected while regretting any inconvenience this action might cause,” the NCAA boss stated.
Also EBut, yesterday, the United Arab Emirates government rescinded its decision against Nigerian passengers.
The UAE had disallowed Nigerian travellers from entering the country, following a circular issued to foreign airlines.
However, in a circular dated December 13, UAE suspended an earlier directive, directing airlines to airlift Nigerians into the country from Tuesday.
The decision was taken as a result of an increasing number of COVID-19 positive passengers.
The circular titled: ‘Dubai Travel Restriction Update,’ with the reference number: PSA 12/068/2021 directed carriers not to airlift Nigerians and citizens of the Congo Democratic Republic only from Africa.
“Due to an increasing number of COVID Positive passengers at the destination, it is decided to suspend accepting passengers to U.A.E from Nigeria and Congo DRC (FIH) only,” it read.
“This is effective today, 13th December, 2021. Please ensure 100% compliance.”
Wike Urges Traditional Rulers To Engender Peace …As Awuse Heads Chiefs’ Council
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged traditional rulers to engender peace in their domain at all times.
He maintained that no government can progress without peace, stressing that it is the responsibility of traditional rulers to always galvanize and support the growth of their various kingdom through the sustenance of peace.
Wike stated this during the presentation of certificate of recognition and staff of office to six newly recognised traditional rulers in the state in the presence of the new Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, His Royal Majesty, Nne-Nwe-Eli Emohua XIII (OLO IV), Ohna Sergeant Chidi Awuse , at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike,who identified peace as necessary ingredient in the process of governance, warned the traditional rulers against using their position to harass companies operating in their domain.
He particularly admonished the Gbenemene Tai Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, King Samuel Lebara Aadum Nnee, who was recognized as first class traditional ruler to use his new position to enthrone peace in Tai Kingdom for the overall interest of the people.
The five other recognised traditional rulers are all in the second class category. They include His Royal Highness, Eze Chukwuemeka Victor Elvis Nmeham Woji Okocha Orlumeni XII, Nye Nwe-Ali Rumuorlumeni; His Royal Highness, Eze (Dr) Wobodo Sunday Jonah, Nye Nwe-Ali Ibaa/Obelle; His Royal Highness, Ohna Christian Okchineke Elechi, Nye Nwe-Eli Odegu; His Royal Highness, Eze Damian Azike Ejiohuo, Nye Nwe-Ali Rundele XII, Nogbo II; and His Royal Highness, Eze Christian Amadi Evekwuru – Eze Chigu Rumuekpe.
I’m Leaving Nigeria Better Than I Met It In 2015, Buhari Boasts …Apologises For Negative Impacts On Nigerians
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he was confident that he would be leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than he met it in 2015.
Buhari made this known in his farewell nationwide broadcast yesterday
“I am confident that I am leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than in 2015. I thank you all. And may God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Buhari said.
He also appreciated millions of Nigerians who prayed and supported him during his illness in the first term of his office.
The President said he is constantly praying for those who helped him succeed and for Nigeria to thrive in peace.
He said, “I also want to use this opportunity to express my appreciation to a good number of Nigerians who provided their support and encouragement to help me navigate the exciting journey in moving Nigeria forward.
“I cannot and will not forget the millions who prayed for me during my illness in my first term of office. I am constantly praying for you and for Nigeria to thrive in peace.
“As I retire home to Daura, Katsina State, I feel fulfilled that we have started the Nigeria Re-Birth by taking the initial critical steps and I am convinced the in-coming administration will quicken the pace of this walk to see a Nigeria that fulfils its destiny to be a great nation.”
The President also apologised to Nigerians over the negative impact some of his economic policies inflicted on them.
He noted that some of his policies caused “temporary pain and suffering” to Nigerians.
According to him, “some of the decisions were difficult choices, the measures were taken for the overall good of the country”.
Buhari explained that, “In the course of revamping the economy, we made some difficult choices, most of which yielded the desired results.
“Some of the measures led to temporary pain and suffering for which I sincerely apologise to my fellow countrymen, but the measures were taken for the overall good of the country”.
Buhari will hand over power to Bola Tinubu, the president-elect, this morning.
Wike Honours El-Rufai, Fayemi, Fubara, Others
The outgoing governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has conferred the highest Rivers State honours, the Grand Service Star of Rivers State (GSSRS), on eight personalities in the country.
The recipients include governors of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma; Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Rivers’ governor-elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara.
Others were the governors of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa); former governors of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio; John Olukayode Fayemi (Ekiti), and Senator Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari (Zamfara).
Governor Wike, while delivering his valedictory speech at a State and honours award night in Port Harcourt on Saturday night, said the second, third, and fourth- categories of honourees cut across a broader spectrum of society.
The governor said the seven governors and former governors honoured by the State belong to the country’s highly intelligent, committed, and hardworking servant-leaders who have distinguished themselves in public service with phenomenal performance records.
“Most of all, they are prominent power brokers among the Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who signed, undertook, and worked day and night to deliver our collective aspirations for a southern president in the 2023 general elections at significant risks to their political lives.
“Their lives, reputation, exploits, and achievements are like open books, so we all know who and what they are, what they stand for, and which interests they represent and project. They have proven to be leaders made for the times rather than the ones the times and circumstances accidentally produced.
“We honour and celebrate these fellow compatriots’ inspirational achievements, exemplary leadership, profound service, love for the motherland, and contributions to national cohesion, democracy, equity, and justice”, Wike said.
The governor noted that the inception of his administration was rough and turbulent, because the then outgoing governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was very hostile and rancorous.
According to him, he also met an empty State treasury, huge public debts, a hostile political environment, and a hostile Federal Government that turned against his government, courtesy of the former governor.
“He initially struggled to prevent us from being sworn in by going to three different courts for restraining orders. When this failed, he challenged our electoral victory and had it nullified at the tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
“Our mandate was restored by the Supreme Court after nearly one year of legal battles. But, all three senatorial seats, a sizeable number of the House of Representatives, and over half of the State House of Assembly seats were nullified, leaving the State without representation at the National Assembly and a functional State House of Assembly. Our candidates for these offices were later subjected to a series of tempestuous re-runs before some managed to reclaim their mandates”, he recalled.
Wike accused Amaechi of laying social and economic landmines such as the shut down the State House of Assembly complex and courts with the sole intent to cripple his administration.
He alleged that having decimated the State’s governance institutions, Amaechi shifted his targets to the State’s treasury, including the statutory reserved funds, and emptied it with impunity.
According to him, “He (Amaechi) sold our valued assets, realized over $415,000,000.00 (four and fifteen million United States Dollars), and siphoned it entirely out of the State’s treasury in under two weeks. He embarked on some bogus projects he never intended to execute but to serve as conduit pipes to fritter State resources for himself, political cronies, and business partners.
“The less than one-kilometre monorail project, the multi-story Karibi-Whyte Hospital, the new Rivers State University, the Greater Port Harcourt City, and the M10 road projects are some of the elephant projects he purportedly initiated but failed at foundation levels after expending billions of public funds. He piled up debts by stopping to pay contractors and salaries to civil servants and other categories of workers, including pensioners and sportsmen and women.”
Despite initial challenges that beset his administration, the governor said he was able to overcome them to reposition the judiciary, delivered unprecedented 12 flyovers and constructed over 900 kilometres of Trunk-A roads and over 200 kilometres of internal roads across the State.
The governor boasted that Rivers State would remain a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State for the foreseeable future, saying however, that the interest of Rivers State transcends political party confines and affiliations.
He maintained that it is the right of the people of Rivers State to participate in decision-making at the highest level as well as follow the political path that guarantees a better deal for the State and people.
“Accordingly, we made the right choice when we opted for unity, equity, fairness, and justice in our consideration for a Southern Presidency during the 2023 general elections. I assure you that we are in the right direction. Rivers State is politically connected to the Centre and will be better for it more than ever this time. There is nothing to regret.”
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