The Federal Government on Thursday said the airports would be reopened to international flights in weeks and not in months.
When international flights eventually resume, passengers are expected to arrive the airport three hours before their flights.
The government said the prolonged ban on international travels was not punitive but mainly to keep Nigerians across the country safe from the spread of COVID-19.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this in Abuja while answering questions at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
He said, “On the question about the reopening of the airports, I will like to use this medium to reiterate and to be consistent with what we’ve been saying. I want people to understand that this is not purely an aviation function.
“It also has to do with our health and is so huge that it made Mr President in his wisdom to set up the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. This is in the interest of the nation.”
The minister said operators in the civil aviation sector had wanted to open the airports a long time ago in order to return to business and halt the loss of revenue.
Sirika said the ban on international flights had warranted the mass sacking of workers in the aviation sector and non-payment of salaries by airlines.
He said, “So we really want to open. But we can’t open alone, for within the space where we operate we’ve got all kinds of people there in the airports.
“We’ve got immigration, police, Customs, civil defense, port health, etc, and so the PTF has set up a technical committee to come up with a date when everybody will be happy to start.”
The minister added, “So we will open as soon as all of us are happy to open. And I want to adopt what the coordinator has said; it will be in weeks rather than in months.”
Sirika urged Nigerians not to blame any government official for the ban on international flights. Rather the blame should be on COVID-19, he said.
“We feel your pain. We know that this closure of airports has separated families and friends, denied people access to hospitals abroad, schools, businesses, etc. We feel this pain,” he said.
He insisted that the prolonged ban on international flights was not on purpose but was to ensure that Nigerians remained safe and healthy.
The PTF National Coordinator said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and other agencies, as well as airlines, should commence the process for the resumption of international flights.
According to Aliyu, passengers would arrive three hours before flights when the country’s airspace finally reopens for international operations.
“We have modified the protocol for passenger arrivals at the airports. Domestic passengers arriving at the airports are advised to arrive one hour before their flights and three hours before international flights – when this restarts.”
He said there may be additional infrastructure for some of the airports.
“Hopefully in weeks but not months,” he added.
APC’s Loss in Edo is Still a Mystery to Me – El-Rufai
Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has said that he was optimistic up to three weeks ago that his party, the All Progressives Congress, would win the Edo State governorship election.
El-Rufai on Monday expressed shock at the election result because, according to him, opinion polls before the election indicated a win for the APC and its candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The governor, who spoke on Monday morning while featuring on Channels Television, said the election was “reasonably decent”.
He said, “We (APC) would have loved to win and quite frankly, I was optimistic up to three weeks ago; the polls indicated that we were going to win. I don’t know what happened in the last three weeks of the campaign.
“As you know, a large number of voters make up their minds in the last two weeks of the election. Many voters decide no matter what happens, this is how I am voting but most people want to wait and make up their minds in the last two weeks.
“Three weeks ago, the polls clearly showed that APC was going to win but the result came out differently from what we expected. Obaseki has won, that’s it. You can’t go into an election without the possibility of losing.
“The election was reasonably decent. We were all worried about violence but there was very little violence or none at all.”
Edo 2020: There’s No More APC, Okorocha Laments
A former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, on Sunday congratulated the people of Edo State for fighting against alleged injustice in the just-concluded election won by Governor Godwin Obaseki on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Okorocha, a founding member of the All Progressives Congress, who represents Imo West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, described the loss suffered by the party as a “revolution of the masses against injustice”.
He added that respect for the President Muhamamadu Buhari was all the party had left.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, ahead of his 58th birthday on Tuesday, Okorocha noted that “there is no more APC, what we have is the respect for President Muhammadu Buhari”.
During the event, Okorocha’s in-law and 2019 former governorship candidate in Imo State, Uche Nwosu, blamed the former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, for the party’s defeat, saying “all he did was to try to muzzle people to accept a candidate they never wanted”.
“This is not what APC was built on, we expect things to be done the right way but the former chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, believes that anything can come from anywhere without going through the due process,” he said.
Jubilant Edo Residents, Melaye Mock Oshiomhole As Obaseki Wins
Jubilant residents of Benin City on Sunday trooped out to celebrate the victory of Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party over the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in the Saturday poll.
Some of the residents mocked a former governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, who was the major promoter of Ize-Iyamu.
This was as a former member of the National Assembly from Kogi State, Senator Dino Melaye, also mocked Oshiomhole and the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Obaseki polled a total number of 307,955 votes to emerge winner of the poll while Ize-Iyamu scored 223,619 votes.
Obaseki had contested on the platform of the APC in 2016 governorship election against Ize-Iyamu who was then the candidate of the PDP and Obaseki won.
However, Obaseki and Oshiomhole, who is also a former National Chairman of the APC, fell apart and the crisis cost Obaseki the APC governorship ticket. Ize-Iyamu, who had defected to the APC ahead of the APC governorship primary election, was given the ticket.
While celebrating Obaseki’s victory on Sunday, Melaye said Oshiomhole had been reduced.
“Fellow countrymen and women, I salute you once again. I am reaching you directly from Edo. What we used to have as Osho Baba has now been reduced, downgraded and degraded to Osho pikin. Nobody should call Osho Baba again, never! The only thing you now have is Osho pikin…..
“How can you expect that a man with the umbrella will not win during the rainy season? Definitely, the PDP won. APC, how market? Oshiomhole, how market?” Melaye said before bursting into a song to mock Oshiomhole and Tinubu, who had released a video ahead of the election, urging the people of Edo to reject Obaseki.
“The dollars brought in a bullion van to Edo have gone down the drain,” Melaye added.
Also, some of Obaseki’s supporters said Oshiomhole should relocate to Lagos to join Tinubu to help him cope with the shame of the defeat.
Obaseki’s supporters called Oshiomhole many unprintable names, saying he became too arrogant after the people of Edo State compensated him to win the 2007 governorship in the state.
While dancing and singing, some of the youths said, “He (Oshiomhole) should relocate to be living with his godfather in Lagos.”
A driver, who identified himself as Lucky Godwin, said, “Edo no be Lagos; we told Oshio and his father that they will be humiliated and that has happened.”
A Lady among the supporters, who identified herself simply as Rose, said “This victory is sweet; e dey pepper Oshioo.”