Travel News

US bound passengers stranded in Lagos airport over aircraft mechanical failure - BUSINESSDAY

MARCH 08, 2024

Over 250 passengers of Delta Airlines were on Friday stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos over mechanical failure to the airline’s aircraft.

The passengers who were on their way to Atlanta, Georgia, US, were already boarded for an afternoon flight out of Lagos, but were later disembarked from the aircraft due to the mechanical failure that was discovered in the aircraft.

It was learnt that the failure of the airline to airlift them as scheduled led to protest among the passengers, but the media consultant to the airline in Nigeria, debunked the claim.

The passengers it was learnt were onboard the aircraft for about four hours before they were told to disembark, which did not go down well with the passengers.

One of the affected passengers who contacted said that: “We were inside the aircraft for good four hours and we didn’t even know what is happening. They initially told us they were trying to get fuel for the flight. We were inside the aircraft until a few minutes ago when we were told the aircraft cannot depart again because it is faulty.”

Tope Ogbeni-Awe, the Media Consultant to Delta in Nigeria, confirmed that the airplane was scheduled to airlift the passengers out of the country on Friday after, but had to be rescheduled due to mechanical fault and crew time out.

He also explained that all the affected passengers would be lodged in a hotel in strict adherence to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and recommended practices till they are airlifted on Saturday.

BREAKING: UK bans overseas health workers from bringing dependants - PUNCH

MARCH 11, 2024

By Adekunle Sulaimon

The United Kingdom has banned Health and Care Workers from bringing dependants to the country.

This was made known by the UK Home Office via its verified X handle (formerly Twitter) on Monday.

“From today, care workers entering the UK on Health and Care Worker visas can no longer bring dependants.

“This is part of our plan to deliver the biggest ever cut in migration,” it wrote.

Details later…

Brain Drain: Nigeria now left with 55,000 doctors as 16,000 emigrate in five years – Minister - PREMIUM TIMES

MARCH 11, 2024

The Minister explained that in Lagos, the population of doctors is about 7,600 and 4,700 in Abuja.

By Mariam Ileyemi   

The Nigerian government has revealed that the country now has only 55,000 licensed doctors to serve its growing population of over 200 million.

During an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, also disclosed that about 16,000 doctors left the country in the last five years and about 17,000 have been transferred.

Mr Pate lamented the mass exodus of doctors, health workers, tech entrepreneurs, and various professionals abandoning the country for better opportunities abroad, while the country is “barely managing” the available ones.

According to the Minister, Nigeria has about 300,000 health professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, and others.

“We did an assessment and discovered that we have 85,000 to 90,000 registered Nigerian doctors. Not all of them are in the country,” he said.

“Some are in the diaspora, especially in the US and UK. But there are 55,000 licensed doctors in the country.”


Speaking further, the minister expressed concern over the impact of brain drain on the health sector, stating that it has deprived Nigeria of its top medical professionals, resulting in a scarcity of healthcare practitioners.

He also highlighted an uneven distribution issue, with a significant concentration of skilled doctors in urban centres like Lagos and Abuja.

He explained that in Lagos, the population of doctors overall is about 7,600 and 4,700 in Abuja.

“The doctor-to-population ratio in Abuja is 14.7 per 10,000 population; in Lagos, it is about 4.6, even though the average is 2.2 by 10,000,” he said.

The Minister stressed the critical role of human resources in a robust health sector, saying Nigeria cannot afford to keep losing its top talents to developed nations.

He added that the government is making efforts to enhance the training programme and incentivise healthcare workers who opt to remain in the country.

“Now to the ‘Japa’ you talk about, it is not only limited to Nigeria. It is a global phenomenon,” he said, adding: “Other countries don’t have enough and they are asking to take more.”

Brain Drain in Nigeria

Nigeria has been battling the increasing exodus of healthcare professionals, especially doctors, pharmacists, and nurses, to developed countries. With a doctor-patient ratio over five times worse than the WHO recommendation, Nigeria has continued to lose hundreds of doctors annually to brain drain.

Various statistics show that over 5,000 Nigerian medical doctors have migrated to the UK between 2015 and 2022.

According to data documented by the Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC), 233 Nigerian doctors moved to the UK in 2015; the number increased to 279 in 2016; in 2017 the figure was 475, in 2018, the figure rose to 852, in 2019 it jumped to 1,347; in 2020, the figure was 833 and in 2021, it was put at 932.

As of July, the President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Emeka Orji, revealed that the association is left with only a few over 9,000 medical doctors, due to the brain drain crisis in the healthcare system.

The continued emigration of health practitioners has led to a shortage of skilled health workers in the country, which has negatively affected the quality of healthcare services provided to the citizens.

Nigeria's mass abductions: What lies behind the resurgence? - BBC

MARCH 12, 2024

By Yusuf Akinpelu

BBC News, Lagos

Nigeria is once more being rocked by mass abductions.

Twice in one week, gangs of motorcycle-riding armed men, operating from forests in two different places in the north of the country, kidnapped hundreds of people.

First on Wednesday we got news from a remote town in Borno state in the north-east that suspected militant Islamists had seized women and children from a displaced persons camp who were searching for firewood. It took several days for the news to emerge because the local mobile phone masts had been destroyed.

Then the following day, more than 280 children, aged between eight and 15, and some teachers, were taken away by gunmen from a school hundreds of miles away in the north-western state of Kaduna into a nearby forest.

There are reports locally that this attack was carried out by militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Ansaru group.

In recent months, there had been a lull in this type of mass kidnapping that had plagued Nigeria since the notorious abduction of nearly 300 girls from a school in Chibok in April 2014 which captured international headlines.

But now, it's déjà vu as the 10th anniversary of that tragedy looms.

The mass abduction in Kaduna is the biggest from a school since 2021.

So why is there a resurgence of this kidnapping that is endangering the lives of the most vulnerable Nigerians?

It is hard to discern a pattern from the coincidental timing of two apparently unconnected incidents, but it is a reminder that the threat has not gone away.

The fact that they happened just days before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan may be significant.

Those who have been kidnapped and freed in the past have talked about being forced to do cooking and other menial jobs in the forest camps.

But in general, kidnap-for-ransom in Nigeria is a low-risk, high-reward business. Those abducted are usually freed after money is handed over, and the perpetrators are rarely arrested.

This is despite the fact that paying a ransom to free someone has been made illegal.

In all, more than 4,700 people have been kidnapped since President Bola Tinubu came into power last May, risk consultants SBM Intelligence have said.

Kidnapping has become a lucrative venture for people driven by economic desperation to raise funds.

Apart from ransoms of money, gangs have in the past demanded foodstuffs, motorcycles and even petrol in exchange for the release of hostages.

"Nigeria's poor economy creates the conditions for kidnapping. Over the past year, the government has not been able to fix its foreign exchange problem," William Linder, a retired CIA officer and head of 14 North, an Africa-focused risk advisory, told the BBC.

"Food prices have skyrocketed, especially over the past six months. The perception of corruption continues."

Alex Vines, director of the Africa programme at the Chatham House think-tank agrees.

He said that the recent attacks can be tied to Nigeria's underperforming economy and the inability of the forces to disrupt the kidnapping gangs' activities.

Rising food costs have been worsened by the farmers not being able to access their fields to grow food as they fear being attacked or kidnapped.

"In large swathes of these areas, armed gangs have supplanted both the government and traditional rulers as the de facto authority," Dr Vines explained.

The gangs often extort money from people, but the fact that they are unable to farm means there are fewer funds available, which may explain the gangs turning to kidnapping.

Likewise, the shrinking of the Lake Chad basin and the spreading of the Sahara Desert southward has led to the disappearance of arable farmland and a scarcity of water.

"These pressures only add to the woes of many, especially in the north. This pushes people to seek alternative means of income. Unfortunately, kidnapping for ransom is one," Mr Linder said.

The gangs are aided by the fact that Nigeria's borders are porous and insecure. Islamist violence in the wider region has added to the insecurity.

The vast forest reserves in the border regions have been turned into operational bases for the criminals.

"Nigeria needs to work with its neighbours," said Bulama Bukarti, a senior conflict analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

"Without transnational co-operation especially with Niger, Cameroon, Chad, including in the north-western part of Nigeria's border, these incidents will continue to repeat themselves."

But that alone would not help Nigeria defeat the gangs, Mr Bukarti added. The authorities also need to be willing to bring perpetrators to justice.

"We have never seen a gang leader arrested and prosecuted. It's lucrative. More people will join, and impunity will increase," he said.

Nigeria’s used vehicle imports surged by 226% to N1,063trn in 2023 – NBS - DAILY POST

MARCH 12, 2024

Nigeria’s used vehicle imports increased by 226.46 per cent to N1,063 trillion in 2023 compared to N325.05 billion recorded in 2022.

The National Bureau of Statistics disclosed this in its combined trade data for 2023.

An analysis of the data showed that between 2022 and 2023, used vehicle imports increased by N736 billion.

In the first quarter, Nigeria’s total used vehicle imports stood at N72.32 billion, which decreased to N69.48 billion in the year under review.

However, in the second quarter of 2023, there was a hike in vehicle exports from N96.76 billion recorded in 2022 to N733.91 billion.

In the third quarter of 2023, this figure dropped to N138.50 billion, while the corresponding quarter of 2022 stood at N90.77 billion.

For the last quarter of 2023, Nigeria imported used vehicles valued at N121.82 billion. This was almost double the value of vehicle imports recorded in 2022 at N65.19 billion.

DAILY POST reported that the total foreign trade in 2023, including imports and exports, stood at N69.81 trillion.

UK to pay failed asylum seekers to move to Rwanda under new scheme - BBC

MARCH 13, 2024

By Kate Whannel

Failed asylum seekers are to be offered up to £3,000 to move to Rwanda under a new voluntary scheme.

The plan, first reported by The Times, is understood to be a variation of an existing voluntary returns scheme, where failed asylum seekers receive cash to return to their home country.

It will be open to anyone whose asylum claim has been rejected by the UK.

In particular it is aimed at those who cannot return to their home countries.

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said payments for those agreeing to relocate to Rwanda would amount to a "good use of public money".

"It costs a lot more money than that to keep people in this country who are out here without merit," he told Times Radio.

"It is about saying to people 'If you come here, you can't stay here if you come here illegally,' he added.

"That is the point. So I don't think anybody would try and come here just to get £3,000 to go to Rwanda."

The government is already trying to implement a separate scheme under which people deemed to have arrived illegally in the UK would be sent to Rwanda.

That plan had been blocked by the courts, which raised concerns about Rwanda's safety.

In order to overcome those objections, the government is currently trying to pass its Safety of Rwanda Bill, which would deem the East African country to be a safe place.

The BBC has been told that, unlike that scheme, this new arrangement would be voluntary and therefore not dependent on the bill being approved by Parliament.

No set figure

A Home Office spokesman said voluntary returns were "an important part of our efforts to tackle illegal migration".

"We are exploring voluntary relocations for those who have no right to be here to Rwanda, who stand ready to accept people who wish to rebuild their lives and cannot stay in the UK," they added.

Failed asylum seekers who choose to be relocated would be allowed to legally work in the country, unlike in the UK. They would also get additional support upon arrival in Rwanda.

The scheme will also be opened up to other people with no right to remain in the UK, and foreign criminals.

There is no date for when the first people would be relocated under the scheme, and no set figure on the number of people who may choose to take part in it.

'No chance'

According to official statistics, 19,253 people were voluntarily removed from the UK last year. Of these, 3,319 received a "reintegration package" or flights paid by the Home Office - the highest number since 2010.

The Home Office says payments under the current scheme "can pay for" temporary accommodation in the destination country, or education costs, or the cost of setting up a business.

Responding to the government's latest announcement, Labour's shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said: "Even government ministers are finally recognising that their Rwanda scheme has no chance of succeeding, so they're resorting to paying people to go there instead."

He said Rwanda had "very limited capacity" for accepting people and that the government should "make clear how many people they expect to send on this basis, and what the cost will be.

"There have been so many confused briefings around the Rwanda policy that the public will be forgiven for treating this latest wheeze with a degree of scepticism."

High domestic airfares will persist, say stakeholders - PUNCH

MARCH 13, 2024

By Justice Okamgba

Stakeholders have predicted that airfares for domestic travel would remain because of operators’ rising operating costs.

In separate chats with The PUNCH, they pointed out that airline operators were contending with various economic factors, such as increasing fuel costs and operational expenses.

The General Secretary of Aviation Roundtable, Olumide Ohunayo, told The PUNCH that although there had been a decline in air travel lately, airlines have not lowered ticket prices.

He explained that fares were determined by market dynamics, influenced by factors such as inflation, the naira-to-dollar exchange rate, and operational costs.

He said, “There has been a decline in the number of passengers, but this has not prompted airlines to reduce air ticket prices. With the devaluation of the naira and other cost components, along with inflationary trends, it is very difficult for the airlines.

 “What they will do is cut down their frequencies until the market booms again. People would rather ship cargo or send money than travel due to the cost. Corporate travel has decreased, while most operators are declaring losses.”

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the costs of air travel increased by 11.01 per cent in November compared to the same period of the previous year.

In February, former President of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, Sheri Kyari, warned that aviation fuel prices would remain high as long as the product was imported due to the exchange rate.

Currently, aviation fuel, also known as Jet fuel, is selling for over N1,200 per litre in Lagos, compared to N250 in the same period last year.

In 2022, the aviation sector reportedly incurred $192bn operating costs, as indicated in a report by Phillips Consulting Limited.

The Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Security Limited, Captain John Ojikutu, noted that aviation fuel accounted for approximately 60 per cent of airlines’ operational costs.

Ojikutu told The PUNCH that with the current price of aviation fuel, air tickets for local travel would cost as much as N140,000.

He recommended the resumption of local manufacturing of aviation fuel to alleviate the impact its scarcity was having on both operators and passengers.

Nigeria among most difficult countries to live – Peter Obi - DAILY POST

MARCH 18, 2024

The Labour Party, LP, 2023 presidential candidate, Peter Obi, on Monday lamented that about 7,000 Nigerians have been kidnapped in the past one year with several cases of killings and clashes recorded across the country.

This was as he described Nigeria as one of the hungriest nations and most difficult countries to live in the North.

Posting on X, Obi called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps towards improving the situation in the country.

“In the past 1 year, about 7000 Nigerians have been kidnapped, with about 700 kidnapped in the last 3 weeks, notwithstanding the violent crimes and killings that occur in every part of the nation, which must have included us in one of the world’s riskiest countries to live in.

“A report by the globally respected publication, Financial Times, on March 12, 2024, described Nigeria’s kidnapping racket as a sign of a failed state. With all of these happening in our nation, how then can we attract foreign investors, & retain the confidence of local investors?

“We have become one of the hungriest nations in the world and one of the most difficult nations in the world to live in, with food prices constantly going out of the reach of most Nigerians. Power supply is abysmally poor and Nigerians are now mostly in total darkness,as over 60% are without power supply. Even those in perceived privileged areas now go for days without power supply.

“A 2022 Energy Progress Report designated Nigeria as the country with the largest number of people lacking access to electricity with 92 million of its over 200 million population living without electricity. About 80 percent of our primary healthcare centres are not functional. The cost of medical treatments and medicines have gone beyond the reach of most Nigerians.

“We now hold the enviable position of having the highest number of out of school children, with about 20 million out-of-school children. We need to take our children off the streets and give them access to basic education.

“I, therefore, urge our executive and legislative arms to consider the many challenges facing our nation and re-allocate resources to these very critical areas. This is the time for complete sacrifice. A New Nigeria is still very POssible,” he wrote.

Rupee supported by inflows, undermined by weak Asian currencies - REUTERS

MARCH 18, 2024

By Nimesh Vora

MUMBAI, March 18 (Reuters) - The Indian rupee was trading little changed on Monday, helped by persistent inflows and pegged back by weak Asian currencies and dollar buying by public sector banks.

The rupee was at 82.8850 to the U.S. dollar at 11:04 a.m. IST compared with 82.8775 in the previous session. The local currency's intraday high is 82.83.
Inflows will "broadly support" the rupee until "this month is over", a foreign exchange trader said.

"On the other side, you have the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and the dollar that is on the up move."
The RBI has been intervening to limit the rupee's decline in the face of dollar inflows, buying the greenback via public sector banks.

The banks "are again" on the bid on the dollar/rupee, though "not sure if it is for the RBI or importers", said an FX salesperson at a private bank.
Other Asian currencies were mostly weaker, awaiting two key outcomes this week. The Bank of Japan policy decision is due on Tuesday and the U.S. Federal Reserve review would be a day later.

The BOJ is expected to exit its negative interest rate policy, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Saturday. The odds of an exit versus no change are nearly 50:50.
The Fed, meanwhile, is nearly certain to make no changes to the policy rate and the main focus will the interest rate and inflation projections.
The U.S. central bank's dot plot in December indicated three rate cuts in 2024, which investor are debating whether the latest will show only two.

"Our assessment is that inflation is still in line with the Fed's projections and we see no compelling reason at this stage to alter current guidance," ANZ Bank said in a note. "However, the risk of an adjustment to the dot plot needs to be highlighted." 

Reporting by Nimesh Vora; Editing by Sohini Goswami

Henley Index ranks Nigerian passport 98th in the world - THE GUARDIAN

MARCH 18, 2024

     Six countries now share the title of the world's most powerful passports, according to the latest Henley Passport Index, with the Nigerian passport ranked 98th in the world. Nigeria fell from the 97th spot it occupied in 2023. The passports of several of Nigeria’s West African neighbours, such as Ghana (76th), Benin (81st), Togo (85th),… 

Six countries now share the title of the world’s most powerful passports, according to the latest Henley Passport Index, with the Nigerian passport ranked 98th in the world.

Nigeria fell from the 97th spot it occupied in 2023. The passports of several of Nigeria’s West African neighbours, such as Ghana (76th), Benin (81st),  Togo (85th), Guinea (85th), Senegal (86th), Niger (87th), Guinea Bissau (88th), and Liberia (93rd), have better rankings. The best ranking for the country was 62nd position achieved in 2006. Its worst ranking in recent decades was the 103rd spot it scored in 2021.

Citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and Spain can now travel to a record-breaking 194 destinations around the world without a prior visa. The Henley Passport Index, a well-respected ranking based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), analyses how many destinations a passport holder can access visa-free.  

Following the leading six are South Korea, Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands, which are tied for second place with visa-free access to 193 destinations. The United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and Luxembourg sit in third place, with their citizens able to visit 192 countries visa-free.

Australia sits in fifth place with access to 190 destinations, followed by Canada, Czechia, Poland and the United States, which share sixth place with visa-free entry to 189 countries.</p>

The ranking also sheds light on countries with limited visa-free travel options. India finds itself in 82nd place, with access to only 62 destinations.

Several African nations, including Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Tajikistan, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Mauritania, all fall within the bottom rungs of the index, with visa-free access to 61 or 60 destinations.

Nigeria falls at 98th with access to 45 destinations, while Syria and Afghanistan rank even lower at 108th and 109th, respectively, with visa-free access to just 29 and 28 destinations, respectively.


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