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.
Gowon Brought Half of CBN to UK, Nigerian Officials Have Loot Here – British MP
A member of the United Kingdom Parliament, Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) took a swipe at retired General Yakubu Gowon on Monday.
Gowon was Nigeria’s Head of State from 1966 to 1975.
During the debate on a petition on End SARS, Tugendhat accused him and the country’s leaders of corruption.
Decrying the situation in Nigeria, the lawmaker said: “One of the great countries is, sadly, being racked by violence, and violence against young people.
The greatest book in the English Language is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the great Nigerian writer. The beauty of that book is the way it explains the challenge of changing generations to live together.
“The way it speaks about values falling away and community being eroded by outside pressure. What we’re seeing in Nigeria today is part of that story.
“It’s a tragedy that we are watching, it’s a tragedy that we are all witnessing. The pressure this time is not foreign colonialism, the pressure instead is corruption and violence.
“We need to call out the corruption, we need to use the powers that we have in this country to stop those profiting from the wealth of that great nation and hiding it here.
“Some people will remember when General Gowon left Nigeria with half the Central Bank and moved to London.
“We know that today, even now, in this great city of ours, there are, sadly, some people who have taken from the Nigerian people and hidden their ill-gotten gains here.
“We know that our banks, sadly, have been used for that profit and for that illegal transfer of assets.
“And that means the UK is in enormous unique position in being able to do
actually something to really exert pressure on those who have robbed the Nigerian people.”
MPs including Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet), Kate Osamor (Edmonton), Lyn Carol Brown (West Ham), Taiwo Owatemi (Coventry North West) made contributions.
The lawmakers urged the Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, and the UK Foreign Office to engage Nigerian authorities and brief parliament subsequently.
#EndSARS: CNN Calls FG’s Bluff, Releases Second Report on Lekki Shootings
Amid threats of sanction from the Federal Government over its investigative report on the shootings at Lekki toll plaza during the #EndSARS protests, CNN has released a second report on the incident.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had last week described CNN’s report on the Lekki shootings as poor journalism, adding that the network deserved to be sanctioned.
Mohammed also followed up the threat with a letter addressed to the management of CNN in Atlanta.
However, the network on Tuesday did a second report with more damning footage showing soldiers shooting at unarmed protesters on October 20, 2020.
The fresh report also shows the Commander, 81 Division, Brig.Gen Ahmed Taiwo, admitting before the judicial panel in Lagos that his men indeed took live ammunition to the tollgate.
The CNN report also highlights the fact that Brig.Gen Taiwo’s claim is at variance with the minister’s who had claimed last week that the army fired blank bullets.
The fresh report also shows protesters running as soldiers open fire at the tollgate.
The National Broadcasting Commission, which is overseen by the information minister, had last month slammed hefty fines on three Nigerian television stations for daring to use some of the footage which CNN has also used.
The Federal Government has been receiving flak from members of the United Kingdom Parliament and Amnesty International over the killing of protesters.
Buhari’s Letter Seeking Yakubu’s Confirmation as INEC Chairman Read in Senate
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has asked the Senate to confirm the appointment of Professor Mahmood Yakubu, for a second term in office.
Buhari’s official communication to the red chamber was read on the floor during plenary on Tuesday, by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.
He sought the lawmakers’ expeditious consideration of his request for another five-year tenure for Yakubu.