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Sudan crisis: Four Airlines Decline to Sign Agreement with NAHCON

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National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON)
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Four Nigerian airlines on Thursday declined to sign an agreement with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to transport the 2023 Hajj intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia due to the ongoing crisis in Sudan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the airlines are: Max Air with 16,326 allocation, Air Peace with 11,348, Azman Air with 8,660 and Aero Contractors with 7,833.

However, only the Saudi Arabian designated airline Flynas that will transport 28,515 intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia signed the agreement.

Briefing newsmen at the venue of signing of the agreement at Hajj House in Abuja, the Chairman,  NAHCON, Zikrullah Hassan, said  that flynas would transport about 40 per cent of the Nigerian pilgrims.

Hassan, however, said that the commission adjourned till Tuesday, May 9, to deliberate further with the Nigerian airlines that declined to sign the agreement.T

He sad: “Their representatives did inform me that they will be coming to discuss with us, with their Chairmen or Chief Executives Officers where we intend to have more in-depth discussions before we come to agreement.

“The reason why it is delayed is because of the Sudan crisis. We have been told that the Sudan airspace has been shutdown.

‘The airlines will have to go through another route which from all indications is longer than passing through Sudan.

“We are hopeful that the Sudan conflict will abate and if it does, it means that we will go back to where we are.

“We have planned our agreement prior to the Sudan crisis and we know that as we speak, there is a ceasefire in Sudan.”

According to Hassan, although it is not however known how soon the crisis will end.

“We will keep on working with the understanding that the the ceasefire will work and the crisis will come to an end so pilgrims from all over the world will able to transit through Sudan to Saudi Arabia,”he added.

Earlier, the NAHCON’s Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji-Hardawa, said that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved a waiver of 65 per cent of all aviation related charges on the Nigerian airlines approved to transport pilgrims to Saudi Arabia

This, according to him, is to cushion the effects of eventualities for the airlines.

He said: “Nobody canvassed for that but as an organisation, we made the suggestion to the president and he graciously approved it.

“Now the challenges of crisis in Sudan is confronting us and it is  threating the success of hajj operations.

“The airlines are business entities and they are partners in this dispensation.

“We want them to happily participate in the hajj operation and profitably.

“We have seven airlines approved by Buhari for this year’s hajj. Two airlines are dedicated to the pilgrims under the Tour Operators.”

According to Magaji-Hardawa, five airlines were for the 36 states and the FCT quota pilgrims.

“Among the five, there is a Saudi accredited airline. They are here with us and they are under bilateral air service agreement.

” Therefore, their position is distinct in the agreement and different with the other Nigeria airlines.

“We had a discussion with them and they are conscious of there diplomatic status, they listen and cooperated with us and they signed the transportation agreement,”he added.

NAN reports that no fewer than 95,000 pilgrims from Nigeria are expected to perform this year’s pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. (NAN) 

Aviation

Reps Angry over Faulty Presidential Air Fleet

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

The House of Representatives on Wednesday, expressed deep anger over faulty air crafts in the Presidential air fleet, just as it summoned the National Security Adviser, (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, for investigation.

The House in plenary, during a heated debate on the motion, reiterated that billions of naira was budgeted to maintain the presidential Air Fleet.

The motion, which was moved by Hon Satomi Ahmed was followed by a heated debate by members who were divided over the issue.

Recall that the Vice President Kashim Shettima was on Sunday forced to cancel his trip to the United States where he was scheduled to represent President Bola Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa Business Summit, due to a fault with his aircraft.

Moving a motion of urgent public importance, Satomi who is Chairman House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, and represents Jere Federal Constituency, Borno State, noted that in April, President Bola Tinubu was embarrassingly, forced to fly in a chartered plane from Netherlands to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to attend the World Economic Forum.

He noted that Vice President Kashim Shettima similarly used a chartered jet recently as presidential jets were undergoing repairs.

He expressed love for the President and Vice president insisting that such incident was a national embarrassment despite billions of naira budgeted yearly to maintain the air fleets.

In his contribution, member representing Balanga/Billiri Federal Constituency, Gombe State, Ali Isah while supporting the call for investigation of the state of the presidential aircrafts, said the development should offer President Tinubu opportunity to travel by road to enable him understand the state of road infrastructure across the country.

He said, “I think this will afford our President and other leaders the opportunity to travel by road and appreciate the state of our roads.

“This happens all the time in some countries of the world.”

However the proposal did not sit well with Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu who presided over Wednesday’s plenary.

“Are you saying Mr President, the number one leader should travel around by road?,” he asked rhetorically amid support from All Progressives Congress lawmakers.

 Supporting Isah’s position, the Minority Leader of the House, Kingsley Chinda argued that “In Britain, the Prime Minister flies British Airways. I don’t see anything wrong with a public officer using commercial transportation.”

Chinda  also said that  bringing the motion to the floor of the House was not necessary as it is the duty of the relevant committee to go ahead with the investigation without necessarily bringing it on the floor of the House .

Chinda further advocated the resuscitation of a national career as a way out of the embarrassment.

The Deputy Speaker however, said it was indeed not necessary to bring the motion  before the whole House as it was within the duty of the relevant committee to investigate the incidence of it deems it fit he therefore called that the motion be stepped down

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Passengers Stranded as NLC Locks Down Abuja Airport

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By Idris Umar Feta Abuja

Many air travellers were left stranded following the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, by officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday.

A combined team of NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) blocked both the entry and exit ways of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

The protest was part of the series of actions that the two labour unions say they would zero in on Imo, following the attack on the NLC president, Joe Ajaero.

The NLC and TUC had on Tuesday, declared a nationwide strike, which will commence on Tuesday, November 14, due to the face-off with the Imo State Government.

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Soludo Names Airport After  Achebe

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Anambra State Governor, Professor Charles Soludo has renamed the state’s International Passenger and Cargo Airport after the late Chinua Achebe, a novelist, to immortalise him for making an indelible mark on the history of human civilisation.

Achebe a native of Ogidi in Idemili North Local Government Area of the state, died on March 21, 2013, at age 82, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Soludo said this on Sunday in Awka at the Independence Day parade, to mark Nigeria’s 63rd anniversary, describing Achebe as an example of Africa’s unsung hero.

“Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic, gave the African literature an identity and a voice and he rightly reconstructed and refined the identify of the people,” he said.

The governor said that Achebe was not just an Anambra hero nor a Nigerian hero, but an African and global hero and yet largely unsung at home.

He said that henceforth, the state shall be deliberate in fishing out and celebrating its largely unsung heroes as motivation to children and youths.

“Unfortunately, some people wrongly think of legacies in terms of brick and mortar. Legacy is about impact on human life and human civilisation.

“Achebe was not a president or governor or military. He did not build bridges or roads or airports but he will outlive most presidents, governors and ministers in our minds.

“Achebe rejected Nigeria’s national honours twice in protest against what he perceived as injustice to his home state Anambra. Today, Anambra will finally honour him.

“After wide consultations, there is a broad consensus that no one is more deserving to be named after the first airport in Anambra than Anambra’s all-time greatest literary gift to the world, Chinua Achebe.

“Consequently, we will rename the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri, to Chinua Achebe International Airport, Umueri.

“Yes, it has to be an international airport, and we hope to work with the Federal Government to give full effect to its international status,” he said.

Soludo urged Nigerians to be intentional about making the project Nigeria work and believe in the potential greatness of the country.

“We have muddled through the past 63 years with squandered opportunities and yet with the promise of potential greatness

“No country or nation is a perfect. Every nation continues to struggle in its match to a more perfect union. The path to stability, growth and sustainability will be challenging as there are no quick fixes.

“But all of us must collectively think and work Nigeria out of the current challenges. We have no other country but Nigeria, and we must make it to work for everyone, “he said.

The governor said his administration was founded on the true progressive agenda and would continue to create the enabling environment for residents to thrive and survive.

The police, paramilitary organisations and students from different schools took part in the parade. (NAN)

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