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As Airlines Jostle for Nigeria’s Growing International Passenger Traffic - THISDAY

APRIL 01, 2022

BY  Chinedu Eze

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika confirmed on Tuesday during the World Government Summit, Dubai 2020 that many international carriers have been jostling to take a slice of the Nigerian international air travel market, which a former Ethiopian country manager in Nigeria described as the most contested market in Africa.

Also at Dubai 2020, the President of Emirates Airlines, Tim Clark acknowledged that Nigerians are seeking to travel all over the world and described Nigeria as powerhouse of Africa.

“We are over interested in flying there because it is a rich nation in terms of demand for services,” Clark said.

Industry experts confirm that Nigeria has the highest indigenous international passenger traffic in the world and average Nigerian likes to travel to international destination for business, for leisure or just for adventure.

This explains why Royal Air MaroC is pushing to have larger market share in Nigeria and it has put everything in place to actualise that objective.

Royal Air Maroc, more commonly known as RAM, is the Moroccan national carrier, as well as the country’s largest airline. RAM is wholly owned by the Moroccan government, and has its headquarters on the grounds of Casablanca-Anfa Airport. It joined the Oneworld alliance in 2020 and has remained one of the most successful African carriers. 

The airline disclosed in a press conference in Lagos that it plans to expand operations in Nigeria, as the airline is the first African airline to join the Oneworld Alliance. 

The airline which operates daily scheduled flights to Nigeria from its base in Casablanca to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos suspended its operations to the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T) in Abuja due to low passenger traffic, but indicated that it would return to that destination to operate to two Nigerian cities.

Speaking during the conference to mark the celebration of the alliance between Air Maroc and Oneworld in Lagos, The Director, Finance, Royal Air Maroc, Karim Benchekroun said that although Air Maroc has a small market share in Nigeria, the demand is expected to increase with the new membership to OneWorld.

Oneworld is an airline alliance founded on 1 February 1999. The alliance’s stated objective is to be the first choice airline alliance for the world’s frequent international travellers. Members of the alliance include Japan Airlines, British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas of Australia, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and others. Royal Air Maroc is the first member from Africa.

The airline said it is poised to increase its market share in Nigeria and this would be enhanced by the OneWorld Alliance, as it hopes to bring in travellers from the Americas, Europe and other destinations to Nigeria at the wings of the alliance.

“Nigeria is a very important market to us. Although the market is not very strong for Air Maroc now, it will increase very soon. We have discovered that people who travel with the airline basically travel for business, tourism and religious visits but the demand is small. We will keep pushing to ensure we increase demand in Nigeria because the population is large,” Benchekroun said.

He said the airline would work with the relevant authorities to ensure visa processes for passengers are easy and seamless.

“Oneworld Alliance brings together world-class airlines to deliver a superior, seamless travel experience and special privileges for frequent flyers, he added.

He explained that the entry of Royal Air Maroc into the alliance followeda rigorous implementation programme to integrate Royal Air Maroc into the alliance.

Benchekroun said it took the airline a lot of effort and time to be a part of the big alliance, adding that this is a great way to bounce back after border closures as a result of COVID-19.

He said he was optimistic that the membership would also help the airline grow passenger demands across the world, especially in Nigeria.

“It took us a lot of efforts to be a part of this big alliance. We have only three African airlines as parts of the world’s alliances and Royal Air Maroc is the first airline to join the Oneworld alliance from Africa. We have added 30 more destinations to the Oneworld Alliance through our membership.

“The best alliance to join for us is Oneworld. Oneworld did not have any member in Africa until now and since we joined, the economic benefits to the airline and the travelling public have increased. Our goal was and it is still to compete with other airlines. Our aim is to give more benefits to our passengers and airline,” he said.

He disclosed that the airline chose this particular alliance because apart from being the first African member on the alliance, the alliance has quality members.

Chief Executive Officer, Oneworld Alliance, Robert Gurney, said the membership of Royal Air Maroc to the alliance was very strategic.

He said the membership of the airline had further swelled its destinations by 30 on the continent, promising that this would also be beneficial to the Nigerian travellers and market.

U.S. to build $537 million consulate in Nigeria's megacity - REUTERS

APRIL 01, 2022

LAGOS, March 31 (Reuters) - The United States will build a $537 million consulate in the Nigerian megacity Lagos, the country's commercial capital, as Washington strengthens economic and diplomatic relations with Africa's most populous country.

The U.S. is among the largest foreign investors and donors in Nigeria with annual trade between the two countries at over $10 billion, according to the State Department.

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Leonard said the new consulate, to be built on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean, would take five years to complete.

Like most countries, the U.S. has an embassy in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and a consulate office in Lagos, a sprawling city of more than 20 million people and Nigeria's major economic hub.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Leslie Adler

Emirates offers to help Abuja in setting up Nigeria Air - CH-AVIATION

APRIL 01, 2022

Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) has offered to help the Nigerian Federal Government in the establishment of its new national carrier, Nigeria Air (Lagos).

“Emirates’ offer is of course very welcomed. We will discuss how to make use of this supportive offer,” Tilmann Gabriel, the transaction advisor to the Nigerian Minister of Aviation told ch-aviation. He emphasised that Emirates was not a bidder for a strategic equity share in the national carrier, but had offered to assist with setting up the airline, if such help was needed.

Gabriel confirmed Nigeria Air’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Air Transport License (ATL) were “well in progress for the launch on July 1, 2022, headed by a team of Nigerian and European experts on-site in Abuja”.

He was responding to statements made by Emirates President Tim Clark during a panel discussion at the World Government Summit 2022 in Dubai on March 28. Asked if Emirates would get involved in Nigeria Air, Clark said: "If the Nigerian government and the Minister need some assistance in how they go about – perhaps a blueprint – we are very happy to help them, but I would say that they have the wherewithal. They are clearly understanding what needs to be done and they are doing it; and probably within the next year, they will have a very good carrier flying.”

Clark stated he believed there was a viable business case for Nigeria Air as Nigeria was “the powerhouse of Africa”. “There is an enormously compelling business case for it, and quite honestly, we’re all very interested in flying there, as it’s a very rich nation in terms of demand for services and the Nigerians are seeking to travel all over the world”.

Also speaking on the same panel discussion, Nigeria’s aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, made a case for the national carrier by pointing to the country’s 200 million population and a rising middle class with a propensity to fly, plus Nigeria's geographical accessibility in Africa. He gave his assurances that the airline would operate as a private carrier without interference from the government, which would retain a 5% share.

Gabriel pointed out that the Nigerian government and Emirates had been in contact, referring to recent discussions around Covid regulations for Nigerians entering Dubai, discussions about the Bilateral Air Service Agreement when Air Peace (P4, Lagos) was initially refused three frequencies to Dubai Int'l, while Emirates flies 21x weekly to Nigeria. "These were all amicably solved by the minister based on his resolute actions," he pointed out.

As reported the Nigerian government has commenced discussions with Airbus and Boeing to acquire the first three narrow-body aircraft for Nigeria Air.

Bids have also been invited by May 10, 2022, for a 49% strategic equity partner comprising of a private sector consortium including an international airline as a technical partner. Nigerian financial and institutional investors are being asked to bid for 46% shareholding, while the government will retain a 5% stake.

Nigeria Urges Citizens to Link NIN to SIM, Rules Out Deadline Extension - ARISE NEWS

APRIL 01, 2022

Nigeria’s federal government on Thursday advised the general public to ensure that they conclude the process of linking their National Identification Number (NIN), with their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM Card) without further delay.

The federal government had on December 31, 2021, extended the deadline for NIN-SIM linkage by three months, which elapsed Thursday, and had earlier warned that all SIM cards not linked before the deadline, would be disconnected.

However, the government, in a statement said it had given telecoms subscribers few days after the March 31, 2022 deadline, to link their NIN to their SIM. According to the statement, jointly signed by the Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde and the Head, Corporate Communications, National Identity Management Commission, Mr. Kayode Adegoke, stated that citizens had been given additional few days from the March 31 deadline, which ended yesterday, to complete the process of linking their NIN to their SIM.

The statement read: “The general public would recall that the Federal Government approved an extension of the NIN-SIM linkage deadline to the 31st of March, 2022. In preparation for the enforcement, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami urges citizens and legal residents to use the next few days to ensure that they complete the linkage.

“To this end, the Minister has further directed that the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) should offer enrolment services round-the-clock for the next few days. “Pantami also thanks all those who have completed their NIN-SIM linkage. On behalf of the Minister, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, and the Director-General/CEO of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, NIMC urges citizens and legal residents to take advantage of the window to complete the process of enrolment and verification within the next few days.”

Emma Okonji

From Nigeria to the world: Afrobeats is having a global moment - THE CONVERSATION

APRIL 01, 2022

Another Grammy Awards season and there is a growing list of African nominees. For African music enthusiasts, it is heartwarming that recognition is being accorded to practitioners in the Afrobeats space.

Afrobeat and Afrobeats, although related, are quite distinct. Afrobeats is the genre that emerged when West African pop music became cool. Its origins coincide with the media liberalisation that accompanied the “final” wave of democratisation in Africa from 1999. More than this, it is a convenient term for Europe to refer to music coming out of Africa, distinct from Euro-American pop.

Afrobeat, on the other hand, is what Nigerian music icon Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called his invention, which blended jazz, funk, psychedelic rock and traditional West African chant and rhythms in the early 1970s. Afrobeat typically bears messages of liberation.

There is a relationship between Afrobeats and Afrobeat; indeed, an overlap between Fela’s music, lifestyle and message and today’s Afrobeats practice.

Boy’s African Giant (2019) paved the way for Afrobeats at the 62nd Grammy Awards in 2020 through a nomination for Best World Music Album. Afrobeats eventually had its big moment a year later at the 2021 Grammy Awards where his Twice as Tall (2020) was named Best Global Music Album.

The nomination of Wizkid’s Made in Lagos (2021) for the same category this year makes it the third time in succession that Afrobeats is being recognised at the Grammys. Wizkid’s Essence, featuring Tems, is also in the reckoning for Best Global Music Performance.

Afrobeats is having a big transnational and transatlantic moment, and I’ve considered some of the factors driving it.

The diaspora

Pop musicians from other parts of the continent have been making music under the Afrobeats banner, but it is the Nigerians Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy who have each sold out The O2 arena in London or the Accor Arena in Paris. Undoubtedly, Nigerian artists are the trailblazers of the Afrobeats movement.

Nigeria’s over 200 million-strong population comprises a middle class that ranks among the world’s most migrated. There are Nigerian populations in many parts of the world, owing to the country’s infrastructural challenges and high level of unemployment. Artists are not exempt from this exodus, although success can give them the means to return home.

Consequently, contemporary Nigerian culture – Afrobeats included – is a culture very much on the move. If the artists are not between cities, the consumers are. Members of the Nigerian diaspora are enthusiastic about the experience of a concert with their favourite Afrobeats stars.

A similar logic extends to the culture of downloads and streams. While streaming is unaffordable for many in Nigeria, the diaspora Nigerian is able to afford streaming. So, the poor state of Nigerian infrastructure actually promotes the evolution and propagation of Afrobeats.

Dance videos

Related to this is the culture of dance videos – challenges and general routines – orchestrated by Afrobeats artistes across social media platforms that have contributed greatly to the unprecedented global rise of Afrobeats.

The explosion of these dance videos on TikTok, for example, demonstrates that language is no barrier to the acceptance and popularity of the music. CKay’s Love Nwantiti (2019) became the most Shazamed song in the world thanks to the love it garnered on TikTok. (Shazam is an app that identifies songs.) At the height of its popularity, TikTok and Instagram users were making more than 10 million videos a week using the song.

More recently, Finesse (2022) by Pheelz and Buju also emerged among the most Shazamed songs in the world.

Collaborations

The collaborations by Afrobeats artistes with the biggest music stars in the world have made for further global exposure.

For The Lion King: The Gift (2019), US star Beyoncé did the unprecedented by enlisting the services of numerous Afrobeats stars, including Wizkid and Burna Boy. Her Brown Skin Girl featuring Wizkid won Best Music Video at the 2021 Grammys.

A Grammy nominee again this year, the multilingual Angelique Kidjo from Benin is a past winner on four occasions. She cannot be said to be an Afrobeats artist. Yet her recognition of the genre means that she has had to co-opt some of its brighter stars in her most recent work.

Kidjo’s latest album, Mother Nature (2021), nominated for Best Global Music Album, features a host of Afrobeats stars including Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, Rexxie and Yemi Alade. Kidjo’s choice of direction is testament to the growth and recognition that Afrobeats has recorded recently.

Radio play

The category of Best African Act was introduced at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2005 while the Best International Act: Africa premiered at the 2011 edition of the BET Awards. These were landmarks pointing to an African pop music unable to be confined within Africa anymore. They also represented an improved opportunity for high profile exposure. In 2012, meanwhile, D’banj’s Oliver Twist charted at No. 9 on the UK singles chart and at No. 2 on the UK R&B chart, making it the first Afrobeats song to so do.

The sustained success of Afrobeats songs in the UK and in continental Europe eventually led to the launch of the UK’s first Afrobeats music radio station, The Beat London 103.6 FM, in 2016. It presents Afrobeats as a major genre rather than a side offering.

To date, the most streamed song of all time is One Dance, an Afrobeats song by Drake, with a cameo from Wizkid which has surpassed 2 billion streams on Spotify. This is a reflection of the boost Afrobeats artists stand to get from working with American pop stars.

Wizkid’s Essence, featuring Tems, charted in the top ten of the Billboard 100 after a remix with Justin Bieber. In order to rank the top 50 Afrobeats songs in the US based on streaming, airplay and physical sales, Billboard is partnering with festival company Afro Nation, this year, to launch America’s first ever Afrobeats chart. This buttresses Afrobeats as the fastest growing genre in American pop culture.

In the words of Afrobeats star CKay, Afrobeats is the new pop. It’s the next sound that consumers and major labels are looking for. Afrobeats is a conglomeration of many influences from hip-hop, R&B, reggae, fuji, juju, apala, galala, konto, lamba, makossa, soukous, amapiano etc. The core of this music is the percussion, the aggressive drums, snares, shakers and the sometimes chaotic sound mixes.

Global acceptance

Musicians typically desire to have a global reach. The importance of America as the world’s entertainment capital guarantees that for the average artist, acceptance in America is tantamount to global acceptance. The Grammy Awards represents the ultimate recognition in music. The categories of Best Global Music Album and Best Global Music Performance thus represent the best opportunities for many artists from outside the US to reinforce their global success.

The quest for global relevance of the Afrobeats movement is further signposted by the announcement that the next edition of The Headies – an awards show dedicated to celebrating excellence in Afrobeats – is scheduled to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, later this year. It is the first time in 15 editions that the annual awards show will be held outside Nigeria.

US Army Veteran, Adeleke Advises Nigerians on Immigration Experience - THISDAY

APRIL 01, 2022

by  Sunday Okobi

To reinforce and extend understanding of the immigrant experience to Nigerians who may want to immigrate in other countries, a thought leader and a Nigerian United States Army veteran, Major Adebayo Adeleke, recently delved into the details of the experiences immigrants should expect in any country they might find themselves, in a recent no-holds-barred Twitter conversation with media expert and author, JJ. Omojuwa.

He said according to Pew Research Center, 46 percent of 206 million Nigerians have considered leaving the country, with the United States, Canada, and Australia as their top destinations, “so this conversation was needed to fortify those who are currently nursing those ‘japa’ dreams with what is needed to be successful out there.”

The notion of what every Nigerian should know about what it takes to start out in a foreign country has long been debated, discussed, and deliberated. Every day, Nigerians troop out of the country in search for greener pastures. They often find themselves in a strange new world where the rules have changed, the surroundings are unfamiliar, and the inhabitants speak in strange tongues.

Adebayo, who shared his experience as a teenager, his time in the US Army, as well as insights gained while visiting and working in over 30 countries, argued that Nigerians have much to gain from going out and thriving in other places

He said Nigerians want to immigrate to other parts of the world for a variety of reasons – furthering their studies, pursuing their specialised skilled trades, looking for a better future for their families, searching for career opportunities, and more-advising that authenticity and diligence are some of the hacks needed to navigate in other parts of the world.

External reserves loses $313m as oil price fluctuates - PUNCH

APRIL 01, 2022

BY  Nike Popoola


NIGERIA’S external reserves fell by $313m in March, according to figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday.

The CBN’s figures showed that the foreign exchange reserves, which commenced March 1, 2022, at $39.86bn, fell to $39.55bn as of March 30, 2022.

Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, crude oil prices have continued to fluctuate as the global energy sector continues to experience disruptions.

Brent, the crude against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, which had jumped above $100 per barrel in the past few weeks, hit $120 as of Thursday.

The CBN had expressed worries over the effects of massive oil theft on the oil sector and the external reserves.

Also, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited said that the country had lamented that the nation was not meeting its OPEC crude oil production quota lately.

The Governor, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, had at the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting expressed concerns over oil production and external reserves.

He said the MPC noted with concern the decrease in the level of the external reserves.

Emefiele said, “The MPC worries that, whereas global prices have gone up, this has been compounded by the shortage of supply of petroleum products.

“In the short-run, the MPC urges the NNPC to take urgent steps to ensure an adequate supply of petroleum products in Nigeria so as to reduce the rate of arbitrary increase in the price of petroleum products by oil marketers.”

He added, “The committee noted, with grave concern, the unprecedented rate of oil theft recorded in recent time, and its debilitating impact on government revenue and accretion to reserves.

“In the medium-term, the MPC is hopeful that the proposed take-off of the Dangote Refinery in the course of the year would help to improve the supply of petroleum products in Nigeria.”

Emefiele, however, said the CBN in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee was working to boost non-oil exports through the ‘Race to a $200bn.’

“It is our honest view that in the next few years, more jobs will be created, and growth will be much more consolidated above five per cent with the propensity to build an economy that is self-sustaining and capable of withstanding negative external shocks,” he said.

Insecurity: Reps consider National Assembly shutdown over Buhari’s ‘inaction’ - PUNCH

APRIL 01, 2022

BY  Leke Baiyewu


Some members of the House of Representatives have proposed that the National Assembly be shut down to force the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to wake up to his responsibility of ensuring protection of life and property in Nigeria.

This is just as a lawmaker called for the resignation or sacking of the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, saying he should have been sacked along with the last set of service chiefs.

The House cut short its plenary on Thursday, following an extended debate on the growing insecurity in the country, during which emotions ran high in the chamber.

Items on the Order Paper for the day, which contains the agenda for each plenary, were stepped down after the lawmakers, mostly members of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, spent over one hour criticising the Buhari-led regime and security agencies.

A member of the House, Shehu Balarabe, had moved a motion of urgent public importance on the killings in Kaduna.

The Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, noted that he would use his “emotion-laden voice” to speak in his capacity as leader of the House and the “ambassador of the government on this floor.”

Ado-Doguwa said, “You can see how this chamber is thrown into disquiet and into an emotionally-disturbed manner. When you have a government in place, the major responsibility of that government, especially a democratic one which was elected by the people, is to ensure safety of lives and properties of its innocent citizens.

“When things like this continue, and continue on a daily basis, those of us who are representatives of the government will become speechless. I have to repeat: we become speechless in the discharge of our duties here to defend actions by the government.

“This is an elected government under a popular democracy but we continue, day in day out…killings, massacre, banditry, armed robbery left, right, and centre. This is just a report of one local government area out of the 774 of the federation.”

The majority leader asked why several parts of Kaduna State have been under attack despite the existence of several military and paramilitary institutions and bases, “the highest number you can count in the northern part of the country,” in the state.

“The government, in this case, has to rise up to its responsibility and call a spade a spade,” he stated.

Ado-Doguwa pointed out that the National Assembly had always appropriated more funds for the security agencies, while relevant committees have been following up on the use of the funds in the implementation of the budget.

He said, “We are here for Nigerian people; we must speak for Nigerian people. We cannot sit down here, fold our arms and see our electorate – people who elected us into our respective offices – being killed by the day.”

The majority leader described the situation as an “institutional failure” and “regimented failure on the part of our security agencies because you have no cause to even excuse any one of them.”

…Let’s shut down parliament, force Buhari to action – Lawmakers

Contributing, Aminu Suleiman said the situation “is going beyond the control of our security agencies,” adding that nobody can explain “this clear case of what I will call ineptitude – absolute ineptitude.” He decried that the entire country is now insecure, with the crisis in the North-West growing at an alarming rate.

Suleiman said, “I am beginning to interrogate the power of our resolutions here. We have passed several resolutions, we have lamented. Is there any way now that we can ensure enforcement of our resolutions? Can’t we as a House take more drastic action?

“If our resolutions cannot work, is it not possible to close this chamber and join ASUU, and say ‘we are not resuming here until the Commander-in-Chief (of the Armed Forces) performs his duty? I am not directly accusing him but the buck stops at the table of the Commander-in-Chief. If there is success, he will be the first to take the glory. Now that there is complete failure, the Commander-in-Chief must take responsibility.

“And we have powers to drive this process to ensure that Mr President takes responsibility, otherwise it will be difficult for us to go back and speak to our people that we have debated on the floor of the House and we have passed resolutions. These are academics; our people are not used to these. ‘You have passed resolutions; you have debated, what is the effect? Have these issues been arrested? Have they been overcome?’”

The lawmaker added, “I urge us, we must do something practical, dramatic and serious to show to the government and to the people that we are doing our best, otherwise when resolution starts some of the innocents may be the victims.”

Also, Chike Okafor said the country has not fared better under the Buhari-led regime since it took power in 2015. He added that security had not improved despite changing the service chiefs. “It is not about the failure of anyone in particular; all of us have failed and we must acknowledge that the failure is that of all of us,” he stated.

Okafor added, “I want to align with the last speaker that we have to go beyond just speaking from this place and do something drastic; something more revolutionary. I think that if we wake up one day and say we are not opening the doors of this chamber; until something drastic is done, Nigerians will not take us seriously.

“I want to believe that the security chiefs are overwhelmed in this situation. Something drastic has to be done. Let us not wait until we are completely overwhelmed.”

Emirates, Qatar Airways jostle for Nigeria’s national carrier - THE GUARDIAN

APRIL 01, 2022

By Wole Oyebade


•FG requests operating certificate, licence
United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier, Emirates Airlines, and its Qatari counterpart, Qatar Airways, have rallied behind Nigeria’s new national carrier project for successful take-off next quarter.

While Qatar Airways is among legacy carriers pushing for technical partnership, Emirates has only pledged to support Nigeria if invited by the Federal Government.

Besides appointing an interim team to manage the incubation phase, the Ministry of Aviation has also submitted a request for the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Air Transport Licence (ATL) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

Already christened Nigeria Air, the proposed carrier, last month, opened an invitation to interested private parties to submit proposals for the take-over and further development of the new carrier.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the ongoing World Development Summit (WDS) in Dubai, said the process to set up the new airline was in full swing and promised it would be delivered before the end of this administration.

Sirika said the Nigerian potential was too huge for the country not to have a national carrier.

“Nigeria is situated at the centre of Africa; equidistant from all locations in Africa of about 30.4 million square kilometres miles, 1.5 billion people and very green land. If Central and Eastern Africa are the belt of the continent, then Nigeria is the buckle. We have 200 million people and a rising middle-class with a high propensity to fly. So, Nigeria is a candidate for a national carrier.”

The minister reiterated that the government would have only a five per cent stake in the private sector venture, with no government control, interference or membership on its board.

He told the global community that Nigeria has emerged from the ruins of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic to become a stronger aviation hub that is profitable to all.

“What we said we would do, as a government, has happened since 2015. That is why Tim Clark’s Emirates, Qatar Airways and all of them are looking to go into Nigeria at multiple frequencies and multiple landing points because Nigeria is the right place for airline business,” Sirika said.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Emirates Airlines, Tim Clark, noted that Nigeria was on course with the new airlines, and Emirates would be obliged to support where necessary.

Clark said: “Is there a Business Case for the carrier? Of course, there is. There is an enormous Business Case to it. Nigerians are seeking to travel all over the world. Nigeria is the powerhouse of Africa. We are over interested in flying there because it is a rich nation in terms of demand for services.

“If the minister needs some assistance on how to go about practising a blueprint, we will be very happy to help. They understand what they are doing and they are doing it. Probably next year, they will have a very good carrier flying; and please come to Dubai because there is so much demand,” he said.

Director-General of Airports Council International, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, reckoned that the potential is huge for a new airline.

“The potential is huge not only in Nigeria but in Africa. But we need to find a way to reduce the restriction inside and outside of Africa, to have more passengers flying.”

Nigeria Air is to replace the defunct Nigeria Airways, which ceased operations in 2003. The replacement was designed as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project with the Federal Government owning only a five per cent stake. The general public will own 46 per cent and international partner airlines will have 49 per cent equity.

In 2018, the national carrier and its christening in London set the minister on a collision course with the Nigerian public. Harsh criticism of alleged prodigal roll-out at the Farnborough Airshow in London was instrumental to the “temporary” suspension of the launch, earlier scheduled for December 24, 2018.

The project has racked up a total of N14.65 billion in appropriation votes between 2019 and 2022. About 40 per cent of the sum (N6.25 billion) has been channeled to working capital, consultancy and transaction advisers’ fees.

Secretary-General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd) advised the federal and state governments not to take more than 10 per cent stake to make the airline a flag-carrier instead of a national airline.

By extension, Ojikutu said 40 per cent should go to foreign technical/investors’ partners, while credible Nigerian investors and the general public take 20 per cent and 30 per cent, in that order.

He, however, frowned on partnering those airlines that are already competing with Nigeria on its Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) routes.

“Using Qatar, Turkish or any Middle East country, EU, and U.S. Airlines that are on our BASA routes, in any partnership, cannot profit the airline. Get technical partners from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and so on,” Ojikutu said.

Vaccinated travellers to Canada no longer need to be tested for COVID-19 - THE CANADIAN PRESS

APRIL 01, 2022

OTTAWA — Vaccinated travellers can enter Canada without a COVID-19 test beginning today.

The change will spark a surge in travel bookings both into and out of the country, according to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, although it's not likely to reach pre-pandemic levels yet.

People could still be randomly tested when they arrive and Health Canada requires anyone coming from outside the country to wear a mask in public for 14 days.

Unvaccinated travellers will be tested upon arrival and again eight days later, and will be required to quarantine for two weeks.

Unvaccinated Canadians and other travellers who are exempt from the vaccine requirement will still need to provide a negative COVID-19 test or evidence enough time has passed after an infection to enter the country.

While the travel and tourism industries are optimistic about the change, there is a possibility the government could reinstate border restrictions in response to rising cases of a more contagious subvariant of Omicron.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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