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NIGERIA

Aides of VIPs to be barred from airports

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AIDES of Very Important Persons (VIPs) and politicians without business traveling will no longer be allowed to enter the airports when domestic flights would resume, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said on Thursday.

Sirika spoke at an interactive session with members of the Senate Committee on Aviation while responding to questions on protocols put in place to stop further spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister said: “We have circulated this information and Mr. President has approved it.

“All those who have no business traveling will certainly have no business to enter the airport. They will not enter the airport, not at all.

“So, anybody coming into the airport this time around as a personality, a minister or even our honourable members, distinguished senators, will not be carrying their aides into the airports any longer.

“We will provide for all their security for the VIPs and the VIP will get in and travel.

“So the VIPs should help us and take responsibility and ensure that they don’t add to our problems in this country.”

Sirika said the Abuja and Lagos airports would resume domestic operations on July 8, as Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri would resume on  July 11, while other airports would resume on  July 15.

The minister said the airports authorities were committed to ensuring the provision of necessary safety protocols of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“There is nothing like rush hour. People have to stay safe before anything happens.

“So, I’m sure that as civil aviation, we are responsible to ensure that everybody remains safe.

“There should be no fear, no panic, the industry is highly regulated. It is one aviation and I’m sure that you have seen from what we have been doing lately.

“We have been following the international convention and practices.

“So, this will not be different, there is nothing to panic about, we will ensure physical distantancig when required.”

On if the social distancing protocol would result in the reduction of the boarding capacity of an aircraft in terms of number of passengers, Sirika said: “No, we didn’t say so.

“Bear in mind that most of the flights are not always full. That is number one.

“Number two, I said to you that we are working with the airlines to come up with the protocols before we open. That will be unveiled to you in due course.”

He also assured the senate committee members that there would not be issue with the payment of workers salary in the sector.

On if the effect of COVID-19 will affect the price of ticketing, he noted that “Price is not in my hands.

“But like I said from what we have put in place, I do not think that anything significant will happen to affect the propensity to fly.”

On the safety of the aircraft for flight operations the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt Nuhu Musa, said that immediately the airlines stopped flying NCAA gave them guidelines.

“What is called storage maintenance for them to comply with to ensure that their aircraft are properly stowed and in good condition when ready to fly.

“Despite the guidelines, we also check the aircraft before resuming operations.

“Our inspectors are going there to cross check what the airlines have put in their check list.

“We are, however, not taking them for what they said. We are physically verifying the true state of their aircraft.”

He said NCAA would not approve any airline or service provider to begin flight operations “until it fulfills and complies with every international guideline and protocols provided by the international civil aviation authority”.

Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi (APC-Kogi), said the interactive session was designed to find out steps being taken by the ministry and aviation authorities to ensure safety of passengers as the airports reopened.

He also said the meeting was also meant to get details on the demands of aviation workers who had earlier complained of non-payment of their salary.

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NIGERIA

Ijaw nation vows to resist national water resources bill

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Following its earlier condemnation by different groups and individuals, the Ijaw Nations Development Group (INDG) has condemned the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill in the National Assembly, vowing to resist it vehemently.

The INDG described the bill as not only provocative but also a complete distortion of Nigeria’s federalism, insisting that reintroduction of the bill was the height of insensitivity to the plight of ordinary Nigerians.

Ijaw stakeholders, who stated this yesterday during a virtual meeting attended by over 100 participants, lamented that the Federal Government sent the bill to the National Assembly without engaging the states and peoples that are the direct stakeholders but only acknowledged them as footnotes.

The Keynote Speaker at the meeting, Anthony George-Ikoli (SAN), described the bill as a deleterious agenda.

“Taking a critical look at the National Water Resources Bill 2020, currently in the legislature and our national consciousness, I am compelled to align myself with more speakers, who in recent times, have come to the conclusion that such a bill can only be the product of an undisclosed, deleterious agenda,” he said.

He explained that true federalism usually serves to recognize the rights of the constituent units to ownership and protection of the same, noting that by its vesting sections, the bill represented an egregious distortion of federalism.

“The Federal Government has not only deprived the states of the minerals and mineral oil in the land within their territories, but it is also now plotting to take the only resource left for the states to administer for the benefit of their people through the National Water Resources Bill,” he added.

He said the time was past when the Ijaw nation would sit aloof and watch, but it was time to set an agenda for its legislators at all levels.

Another speaker and Niger Delta activist, Ann Kio-Briggs, said it was disheartening that the Federal Government was tampering with the rights of Ijaw people and the Niger Delta region.

“Water represents life and belongs to my people, we live on and by the water. For the first time, the Ijaw have to wake up because they have taken our land, oil, and air through pollution and now, they want to take our water. It is our responsibility to protect our rights,” she stated.

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NIGERIA

Finally, APC concedes defeat, admits Edo poll free, fair

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The governing All Progressives Congress on Monday conceded defeat 24 hours after Governor Godwin Obaseki, of the Peoples Democratic Party, was declared the winner of the Edo Governorship Election.

Chairman of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, in a statement titled, “Edo State Governorship Election: Victory for Democracy,” which he signed, congratulated Obaseki over his victory.

Buni said,  “Edo State Governorship election is over, the winner has been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the person of the Mr. Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the People Democratic Party.

“We hereby congratulate the winner of the election, the people of Edo State and all Nigerians. The peaceful conduct of the election and its outcome represent a victory for Nigeria’s democracy

“As a party, we join our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to affirm our ‘commitment to free and fair elections’ in order to strengthen ‘the foundation for our political and moral authority.

“ We commend INEC, our security agencies, and all political parties that contested the election for the successful conduct of the election. As a governing party, we will take every step necessary to support the Federal Government to consolidate all the gains achieved. “

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NIGERIA

Government has no business running refineries — Osinbajo

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The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said the problems associated with Nigeria’s refineries will persist if the Federal Government continues to own and run them.

He noted that experience has shown that refineries were better managed by the private sector hence the need for the government to restrict itself to providing the regulatory framework for such businesses to thrive.

Osinbajo said this at a virtual meeting organized for the All Progressives Congress bloggers and social media influencers at the APC National Secretariat, in Abuja, Monday.

According to him, it was time for the nation to do more to develop its gas and renewable energy resources which are cheaper and cleaner.

He said, “If the refinery is left in the hands of the government, it will continue to experience the same problem it is experiencing now. I do not think that it is the business of the government to run the refinery. It should be the business of the private sector, which is why we are trying to focus on assisting the private sector to develop modular refineries.”

Speaking further Osinbajo said, “There is a 100,000-barrel capacity refinery about to come on stream and we hope it will by the next year. It is completely private and closely located near the Port Harcourt refinery so that it can share the facilities of the Port Harcourt refinery. We are hopeful it will come on stream in the first quarter of next year.

“There are also six modular refineries that are almost ready. There is a Niger Delta Petroleum refinery in Delta state, there is another one in Imo, there is also another modular refinery in Edo State.

“We engaged the oil-producing communities to find a new vision for the Niger Delta and we tried to encourage modular refinery that will give the people in the oil-producing states a stake so that the modular refinery is not just private but the people there have some stake and equity.

“The whole idea is to support as many private refineries as possible. We are also waiting for the Dangote Refinery with 250,000 barrels capacity which is bigger than all of the government refineries put together.

“In the next two or three months, we will see the private sector playing a bigger role and things will quickly improve. We hope that this particular effort will complete the refurbishment of the refineries which will be completed soon but I am more hopeful of the private effort been the key to the future.”

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