… Nigeria Air to commence operations by April 2022 – FG***
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said on Thursday that it had received another 175 Nigerian returnees from Libya through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMA), Lagos.
The returnees are 92 male adults, 53 female adults, six male children, 12 female children nine male infants and three female infants.
Acting Coordinator of NEMA’s Lagos Territorial Office, Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, told the newsmen in Lagos that they arrived at the airport at about 9.48 p.m. on Wednesday.
One of the returnees, Azizat Omoniyi, 21, from Lagos State who abandoned her education when she was 17 years old, expressed regret at her misbehaviour, especially for wasting her father’s hard-earned money.
“I will never advise anyone to think of travelling out of this country aimlessly.
“We don’t appreciate what we have until it is lost.
Anyone thinking of travelling without a set and achievable objectives should forget it,’’ she said.
Azizat said her mother died while she was at a tender age and was being catered for by maternal relations, but she felt she was being maltreated and ran away to be with her father.
“From my father’s custody, a friend convinced me to meet her in Ibadan where I was introduced to the idea of travelling to Libya where I was told that I could work and receive a monthly salary of ₦120,000.
“I deceived my father that I wanted to establish a business and he gave me ₦800,000, but I used it for the Libyan trip through the desert.
“I became a slave and prostitute in Libya; I am not lying, I raised equivalent of ₦2 million as a prostitute to free myself from my trafficker.
“I want to go back to school.
I stopped schooling at SS2 and have learnt my lessons,’’ she lamented.
“The lessons are very, very bitter, I wasted my life.
“I do not know my father’s location.
I lost everything that I thought I could bring back home when the police raided our house and threw all of us into prison.
“We were dispossessed of our savings and property.
I lost the phone in which l had my father’s contact.
“I have to wait till my transport allowance is paid before I can buy phone and try to gamble with numbers to know if I can get my father’s contact,’’ a remorseful Azizat said.
Newsmen report that 158 returnees had arrived from Libya five hours earlier than Azizat’s batch.
Farinloye said the fresh 175 returnees, which included Azizat, had been stranded in Libya.
They departed from Mitiga International Airport, Tripoli, aboard a chartered Boeing 737-400 with registration number 5A-WAC.
He said they were received at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company wing of the MMA.
“The returnees were brought back by the International Organisation for Migration through a voluntary repatriation programme for distressed persons.
“The EU sponsored the repatriation of the stranded Nigerians who had failed in their attempt to search for greener pastures outside Nigeria,’’ he said.
In another development, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved April 2022 as official date for the commencement of the operations of much-awaited Nigeria Air.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, disclosed this when he along with Ministers of Transportation, and Finance, Budget and National Planning, Rotimi Amaechi and Dr Zainab Ahmed, respectively, briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting.
The meeting was presided by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
According to Sirika, the majority of shares of 49 per cent of the Nigeria Air project will be owned by strategic equity partners, 46 per cent by Nigerians while the Federal Government will own five per cent of the shares.
The minister revealed that the council also approved N1.49 billion for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment to be located at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
“Today in Council, Ministry of Aviation presented two memoranda.
The first one is approval for the award of contract for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, including the software support and training, which will be located at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“In summary, this is the software that will allow all of the activities of civil aviation regulations to be done electronically on one platform, including payments, follow-ups on personnel licenses, medicals, economic regulation of airlines, safety regulations of airlines and all other businesses within the envelop of civil aviation, will be monitored by this single software. So, that has been approved.
“This one also is the approval of the Outline Business Case for the establishment of the National Carrier.
This is the sixth time the memorandum appeared before the council and sixth times got lucky to be passed by council.
The structure of the proposed airline – Federal Government would be owing not more than five per cent.
So, five per cent is the maximum equity that government would take.
“Then, 46 per cent would be owned by Nigerian entrepreneurs.
So, if you add that is 51 per cent. So, 51 per cent majority shareholding by Nigerians.
“And then, 49 per cent will be held by strategic equity partners or partners will be sourced during the procurement phase, which is the next phase.’’
The minister revealed that the Nigeria Air, when operational, would generate over 70,000 jobs, saying “these 70,000 jobs, they are higher than the total number of civil servants that we have in the country’’.
Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, said she presented to the council for information and discussion the third-quarter GDP report for 2021.
The report was released last Thursday by the National Bureau of Statistics.
“The result shows an improvement from the contraction that we witnessed in 2020.
Recall that we had negative growth in Q2 and Q3, 2020.
“We entered into a recession technically and then exited recession by the fourth quarter of 2020.
“So, this report shows that we now have four consistent quarters of growth from Q4 2020 to Q3, 2021.
“The GDP third-quarter report shows a growth of 4.03 per cent in the third quarter of 2021, compared to a contraction of minus 3.62 per cent in the third quarter of last year.
“So, part of the economic activities that were the major drivers of growth within this reporting period is services which grew by 8.41 per cent,’’ she said.
The minister maintained that the growth in the service sector was largely driven by better performance in the rail transport sector, pipeline sector, air transport, financial institutions, road transport sector and water transport as well as crude.
She further noted that steps taken by the government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the strict implementation of its fiscal policies helped in improving the economy.
“So, factors that are responsible for this growth include the commitment of the government to continued containment of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the implementation of fiscal and monetary measures to support businesses contained in the Economic Sustainability Plan.
“It includes the improvement that we’ve witnessed in the rail transport sector, pipelines, air transport, road transport, as well as water transport.
“It includes improvement in the transportation and the free movements of people as well as goods as the containment measures have been really improved,” she said.
The minister also noted that the government’s diversification plan had been very successful, proving that the country could not continue to depend on oil alone.
“The growth in industry has been consistent, but we have seen a slight slowdown compared to the last quarter of 2021 and the contraction of the industry is driven by the poor performance of the crude oil and natural gas sectors, coal mining, quarrying, minerals as well as oil refinery.
“The Q3 GDP report indicates that the oil sector’s contribution to the GDP today stands at 7.49 percent while the non-oil sector’s contribution to the GDP stands at 2.51 percent.
“This indicates that the Nigerian economy is truly much diversified with the oil sector contributing just 7.49 per cent,” she added.
On his part, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, also revealed that he presented a memorandum to the cabinet for approval for the award of contract for the provision of training logistics, operational equipment and maintenance support for government under the Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution Infrastructure in Nigeria.
“This is also what we call the Deep Blue Project. That’s the project that the president launched some months ago, around May or June.
“The contract was awarded at N6,347,967,644.21, inclusive of 7.5% VAT for a period of two years.
“It is also important to say that the cabinet was briefed that there is a huge improvement in the security on our waterways now and we hope that it will continue as we progress,” he explained.