NAHCON Boss Intensifies Awareness Campaign On Hajj Savings Scheme - LEADERSHIP
BY ADEBAYO WAHEED, Ibadan
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhahi Zikrillah Hassan has intensified awareness campaigns on the Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS).
Speaking at a sensitization programme in Ibadan, Oyo State, he said the scheme was an initiative of NAHCON as provided for in its Establishment Act 2006.
According to him, it is designed to provide a long term savings plan for people intending to perform the Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam.
He said that it was an alternate financial empowermentâ€™ for Nigerians of varying economic categories or status seeking to make the â€˜life long journeyâ€™, in fulfilment of the last, yet, core Islamic pillar.
The NAHCON boss explained that the scheme was a partnership initiative and to be run or operated in compliance with Islam Compliance Financial System, pointing out that it would be â€œShaâ€™riahâ€ or Islamic law compliant.
He added that, â€œit therefore explains the collaboration with Jaiz Bank, an established financial institution based purely on Islamic economic principles.
â€œSince it is a programme aimed at enhancing and assisting Islamic adherents to fulfilling an obligation as commanded by Allah, this sensitization therefore becomes imperative, paramount and faith attainment driven.
â€œFollowing the formal launch of the scheme in Lagos recently and a similar event of this nature held in some other South West states, it has become the turn of the â€˜Pace Setterâ€™ state to get the â€˜hajj with ease initiativeâ€™ introduced, embraced and patronized by the people of Oyo State.â€™â€™
U.S. airlines offer flights to sun destinations while Canadian planes sit idle - THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL — As Canada's airlines suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, U.S. carriers including Delta Air Lines and American Airlines say they have no plans to stop offering service to sun destinations, raising questions about both the business fallout for domestic airlines and the measure's effectiveness for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Canadian airlines have already been losing market share over the last several months to foreign carriers, said Mike McNaney, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada. Now, however, the only routes available to certain destinations will be aboard foreign airlines selling flights with stopovers in U.S. cities.
"We assume the government is also engaging foreign operators on this issue to ensure we are all taking the same concerted approach," McNaney said. Transport Canada didn't respond to a request for comment.
Canadians flying out of major cities will still be able to book trips to Mexico and the Caribbean as normal, provided they are willing to stop over at another airport. American and Delta, for example, are selling tickets for flights from Toronto to Cancun, with passengers connecting through U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia, an online search shows.
American Airlines said Monday that it had no schedule changes to share. Delta said it would suspend its flight from Minneapolis to Winnipeg as of Feb. 3, in keeping with government restrictions limiting which airports can receive international flights, but planned to continue its scheduled service to Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canadian airlines had agreed to suspend flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30, in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. The prime minister announced the suspensions along with stricter measures aimed at reducing international travel, including a requirement that entrants to Canada quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.
On Monday, Bloc Quebecois transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval highlighted the fact that U.S. airlines were still offering flights from Canada to sun destinations, saying in a statement that the latest round of suspensions put Canadian companies at a disadvantage.
Asked why Canadian airlines suspended routes while American carriers continue to operate flights to the same destinations, WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell said Transport Canada would have to clarify.
"Recognizing that air travel represents less than two per cent of the transmission of COVID, the government asked us to stop flying to these destinations out of an abundance of caution, and we agreed," Bell said.
The new restrictions were announced weeks after Canada implemented a requirement that all air passengers travelling to Canada produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
The testing mandate caused an immediate drop in flight bookings, airlines said, leading to additional layoffs. With the latest restrictions, experts say they expect further layoffs, along with potential bankruptcies, if government aid for the sector doesn't materialize.
The suspensions of flights to sun destinations will cost Air Canada, the country's largest carrier, around $200 million in lost revenue between now and April 30, industry analyst John Gradek said.
The flights that Canadian airlines continue to offer include transatlantic and transpacific routes along which carriers transport cargo, a business that has become increasingly important to airlines' bottom lines as revenue from passenger sales dries up.
U.S. airlines such as Delta and American have received tens of billions of dollars in federal aid since the start of the pandemic. The government stimulus passed by the U.S. Congress in March 2020 included US$25 billion in payroll support for the industry, US$25 billion in loans for passenger airlines and more than US$10 billion in grants and loans for cargo airlines and aviation contractors.
Airlines in Canada, meanwhile, have been in negotiations with the government for months about the terms of a sector-specific aid package, with Ottawa saying that any federal funding for airlines would be contingent on their issuing full refunds to passengers who had their flights cancelled during the pandemic.
The Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corp. says it has agreed to give Sunwing Vacations Inc. and Sunwing Airlines Inc. access to $375 million to protect jobs in Canada's airline sector.
The Crown agency said Sunwing has agreed to maintain an account with money received from customers for travel that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic until broader discussions with the airline industry conclude.
It said other applications for financing are under consideration but that rigorous due diligence and collaboration of existing lenders is required to protect the financial interests of taxpayers.
Emergency financing of at least $60 million is open to large Canadian employers with more than $300 million of annual revenues.
Canada's airlines have received hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a federal spending program that helps cover a portion of companies' payroll costs during the pandemic.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.
FAAN warns of recruitment fraudsters - PUNCH
BY Segun Adewole
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria has said that it is not embarking on any recruitment exercise at the moment.
In a statement issued on Monday by the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Henrietta Yakubu, FAAN warned the general public to beware of persons parading themselves as recruitment agents of the Authority and consequently extorting money from innocent citizens in the process.
The statement said, â€œFor the purpose of clarity and emphasis, the Authority is not embarking on any recruitment exercise at the moment.
â€œThe Authority wish to inform the public that recruitment into any government agency has a stipulated procedure, which includes advertisements in national dailies, in line with the provisions of the Federal Governmentâ€™s conditions of service.
â€œConsequently, any person claiming to be an agent of the Authority in this respect is a fraudster and should be reported to the Authority or the nearest police station.
Minister: 30,000 Nigerians have benefited from Commonwealth scholarships - NAN
Adamu Adamu, minister of education, says no fewer than 30,000 Nigerians have benefited from the Commonwealth scholarship awards since its inception in 1959.
The award is the UKâ€™s primary scholarship scheme focused on supporting British international development goals. It is designed to attract outstanding talent to UK universities whilst also supporting sustainable development overseas.
Adamu said the idea behind the scholarship was to make scholars acquire the requisite knowledge and skills, and return to their home country to make a meaningful impact in their various fields of study.
The minister was speaking on Tuesday during the launch of the 2021/2022 nomination interview of Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) in Abuja, where he was represented by Sonny Echono, permanent secretary of the ministry.
He noted that majority of the award holders had returned home to make significant contributions to the development of Nigeria, mostly in the tertiary institutions.
â€œEducation is critical to the achievement of the present administrationâ€™s transformation agenda, which is expected to accelerate economic growth, engender social change, create a stable polity and improve on the quality of life of the Nigerians,â€ he said.
â€œThis can only come to fruition through human capital development.
â€œConsequently, the education sector has been saddled with the responsibility of propelling our country to the realisation of her development goals so as to become one of the top economies of the world and improve access to tertiary education.
â€œI have no doubt that all candidates in this nomination interview have done research on Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC), its mission, vision and guidelines among others.â€
The minister said applications have been limited to PhD candidates, based on instructions from the CSC, and that they would be graded based on academic merit, quality of research proposal and development impact on the completion of the study as PhD candidates.
Ndajiwo Asta, director of the Federal Scholarship Board, said as a result of the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates for 2020 were advised to defer their scholarship to 2021.
Asta explained that in 2020, there were 336 offers made to the 54 commonwealth countries with an average of six candidates per country.
She said 4,424 candidates applied through the electronic application system (EAS), adding that Nigeria received 24 awards.
â€œThe awards are very limited in number compared with the large number of applications received each year,â€ she said.
â€œThis year, approximately 350 candidates applied through the EAS.
â€œThe value of the award per awardee depends on the field of specialisation and it is adjudged to be sufficient, with provision to spouses if indicated, thus makes the award scheme the most competitive and prestigious in the world.â€
U.S. Embassy invites Yoruba, Hausa teachers for FLTA program - P.M.NEWS
By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
The U.S Embassy in Nigeria has invited applications from Nigerians wishing to teach Hausa or Yoruba language and culture to American students in U.S. universities and colleges.
Successful applicants will be participating in the Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program (FLTA).
The US consulate made the announcement in a post on its website urging qualified Nigerians to apply.
The post read â€œThe Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Mission Nigeria invites applications from qualified Nigerians wishing to teach Hausa or Yoruba languages and cultures to American students in U.S. universities and colleges.â€
The application is in line with the missionâ€™s Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Programme (FLTA).
The programme according to the mission is to give opportunity for participants to refine their teaching skills, increase their English language proficiency and extend their knowledge of the cultures and customs of the United States.
Successful applicants are going to teach language courses, supervise language labs, and lead language table discussions.
They may also act as resource persons in conversation groups, cultural representatives, attendants in language laboratories, coordinators of extra-curricular activities, guest speakers in civilization courses, head of language clubs, houses, tables, and much more.
Ekiti cancels sponsorship of pilgrims to Mecca, Jerusalem - THE CABLE
by Haleem Olatunji
The Ekiti state government says it will no longer sponsor pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem.
Bisi Egbeyemi, the deputy governor, said the development is in line with the federal governmentâ€™s decision to end sponsorship of pilgrims, thereby saving funds for development purposes.
In a statement on Tuesday, Odunayo Ogunmola, the deputy governorâ€™s special assistant on media, quoted Egbeyemi as speaking when he hosted members of the state Muslim pilgrims Welfare Board.
The board members led by Babatunde Onipede, its chairman, were on a courtesy visit to the deputy governorâ€™s office which supervises the agency in the state.
In his remarks, Egebeyemi said the state no longer engages in sponsoring pilgrimages, adding that no allocation is made for it in the budget.
He asked those interested in visiting Mecca and Jerusalem for pilgrimage to seek private sponsorship.
â€œBoth the Federal Government and the State Government have said they will not spend their money on pilgrimages again and that is why there was no budgetary allocation to it,â€ he said.
â€œAnybody wishing to perform his religious obligation of going to the holy land must do so with his own personal savings and that was what I told the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) when their executives made a similar request because we must be fair to all.â€
Egbeyemi said the boardâ€™s demand for office furniture and utility vehicles are legitimate and would be looked into.
In his address, Onipede commended Fayemi and his deputy for the appointment of board members.
He said the board was not functioning as it ought to during the administration of Ayodele Fayose, former governor of Ekiti.
â€œIt was not functioning as a Board during the Fayose administration; it was just lying fallow there and was not run like a Board,â€ he said.
US travellers must wear face masks at airport security or risk being denied boarding - THE INDEPENDENT UK
Travellers passing through US airports will soon be required to wear a mask if they want to pass through security.
From 2 February, passengers over the age of two can be denied entry through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints if theyâ€™re not wearing a face covering.
Failure to comply could also result in a fine.
The new rule remains in place until 11 May, although children under two and those with a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask will be exempt.
â€œPassengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be permitted to enter the secure area of the airport, which includes the terminal and gate area,â€ said the TSA.
â€œDepending on the circumstance, those who refuse to wear a mask may be subject to a civil penalty for attempting to circumvent screening requirements, interfering with screening personnel, or a combination of those offenses.â€
On 29 January, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made it mandatory to wear a face mask on planes, plus public transport such as buses and subways, building on a previous executive order made by President Joe Biden.
â€œTSA will fully comply with the Presidentâ€™s Executive Orders, CDC guidance and the DHS National Emergency determination to ensure healthy and secure travel across all transportation sectors,â€ said a TSA spokesperson.
â€œThis will help prevent further spread of Covid-19 and encourage a unified government response.â€
Commercial airlines in the US already required passengers to wear a face covering at all times on flights.
There have been several high profile cases of travellers being kicked off aircraft after failing to wear their masks correctly.
On 24 January, a family of 20 was removed from a flight in the US after one passengerâ€™s mask slipped under their nose.
The group of 10 adults and 10 children had boarded the American Airlines service from Salt Lake City to Dallas to catch a connecting flight to Hawaii when the incident occurred.
According to one family member, Scott Wilson, they had boarded the aircraft and were settling into their seats when the mask of one of his relatives accidentally slipped beneath their nose before they pulled it back up.
A member of crew saw and instructed the entire family to get off the plane, according to Mr Wilson.
American Airlines said in a statement: â€œOn Sunday, 24 January, passengers travelling on American Airlines flight 1214 from Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) were reported to be noncompliant with our mandatory face covering policy, which requires face coverings be worn properly over the nose and mouth.
â€œPer procedure, the customers involved were asked to exit the aircraft before departure and the flight departed for DFW shortly after.â€
Vaccination havens: the countries welcoming immunised travellers -
BY Helen Coffey
International travel may be off the menu for most of us during Englandâ€™s third lockdown, but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
For those lucky enough to have received an approved coronavirus vaccine, some tourism-hungry countries have announced that their borders will be flung wide to the immunised traveller.
The airline industry is getting in on the action too, and is pushing for the World Health Organization (WHO) to confirm that itâ€™s safe for people to fly without quarantining if theyâ€™ve had a Covid-19 vaccine. Getting the go-ahead from the WHO is a key step towards developing a global â€œdigital travel passâ€ to enable safe international travel, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
Vaccine or no, Britons are currently still banned from all leisure travel, whether domestic or international, while the UK struggles to reduce transmissions of Covid-19.
But once restrictions are lifted, here are the destinations welcoming vaccinated holidaymakers.
Estonia has become the latest nation to offer quarantine exemption for travellers who have recovered from Covid-19 or who have been vaccinated against the virus.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs currently imposes 10 days of quarantine on arrivals from abroad, with exceptions made only for low-risk European countries â€“ Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Iceland and Norway.
Arrivals from the UK are required to spend two weeks in self-isolation â€“ though this can be halved by taking a free Covid test after seven days.
The government in the capital, Tallinn, has now eased its rules for people who are presumed to have acquired some immunity to coronavirus either through infection or vaccination.
The ministry says: â€œStarting from 1 February, the 10-day self-isolation and Covid-19 testing are not mandatory for individuals, including those arriving from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or a third country, who: (1) have suffered from Covid-19 and no more than six months have passed since they have been declared cured; (2) have undergone Covid-19 vaccination and no more than six months have passed since its completion.â€
According to the Foreign Office, proof of recovering from Covid-19 should be a doctorâ€™s certificate that includes the time, location, methodology and result of the analysis, as well as the details of â€œthe institution that conducted the analysisâ€.
Vaccinated travellers will need to provide â€œan immunisation passportâ€, even though there is no international agreement on such a document, or a vaccination certificate with a similar level of detail to the doctorâ€™s certificate.
The Seychelles is planning to kickstart its tourism industry by getting rid of quarantine requirements altogether for incoming visitors who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The country will be welcoming fully vaccinated visitors from anywhere in the world with immediate effect, although they must still also present a negative Covid PCR test result taken with 72 hours of travel.
There will be no need for quarantine for vaccinated travellers â€“ up until now, visitors had to self-isolate at their hotel for 10 days on arrival.
To be considered as vaccinated, visitors must have received both doses of any of the four main vaccines â€“ Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen â€“ and waited two weeks after the second dose for the inoculation to take effect.
As proof, visitors will need to submit an â€œauthentic certificate from their national health authorityâ€.
As of 1 February, all international tourists can enter Georgia (the country, not the US state) as long as they have received both doses of their Covid-19 vaccine and can provide proof.
Georgia is the first country to fully remove entry restrictions for vaccinated passengers - no testing pre-departure, no testing on arrival, and no quarantine.
â€œAs for foreign visitors, they will be able to enter Georgia unconditionally if they submit a full course of any type of covid-vaccine, which means two full doses, if they present a document at the border,â€ according to the countryâ€™s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Since May 2020, Georgia has had an international flight ban in place for most of the world, but this too will be lifted from 1 February, allowing multiple airlines to resume flights,
Romania has announced that travellers who have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine will not need to quarantine on arrival, effective immediately.
In a document issued earlier this month, the countryâ€™s National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) announced that people coming from countries or areas of high epidemiological risk, or who have come into direct contact with someone whoâ€™s tested positive for Covid, are exempt from quarantine measures if they are fully vaccinated.
That means theyâ€™ve had two doses of the vaccine, and at least 10 days have passed since the second dose was administered before arrival into Romania.
Incoming visitors will need to show proof of this through a â€œdocument issued by the health unit which administered it, from Romania or from abroadâ€. Thereâ€™s no indication which of the vaccines will be acceptable.
The CNSU said that itâ€™s made the decision based on the fact that thereâ€™s been a downward trend in infections in Romania and that thereâ€™s a â€œneed to create the necessary socio-economic conditionsâ€ to benefit the national economy.
The changes will apply to visitors from the UK, who have up to now been required to quarantine 14 days as well as show evidence of a negative Covid test (either PCR or antigen test accepted) taken within 48 hours of travel.
According to the Icelandic authorities, â€œall those who present a valid international vaccination certificate for full vaccination with an approved vaccine against Covid-19 are exemptâ€ from the testing and quarantine requirements put in place for all other arrivals.
However, Iceland has stressed that having a vaccination doesnâ€™t override the current travel restrictions â€“ only individuals who are already authorised to travel to Iceland may enter the country. Icelandâ€™s borders are only open to residents and citizens of EEA countries and Switzerland. Since the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK is considered a â€œthird countryâ€ and therefore citizens cannot travel to Iceland â€“ whether vaccinated or not â€“ unless they have a valid exemption, such as having Icelandic family member.
In December, Cyprus became the first European Union Member State to announce it was planning to abolish entry requirements like testing and quarantine for travellers who get vaccinated against Covid-19.
However, the government plan is not set to come into force until March, when vaccinated travellers will not need to meet other Covid-related entry rules as part of a bid to restart tourism.
Cyprus Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos revealed the plan in the Cyprus Mail.
â€œThe amended action plan is expected to further boost the interest of airline companies to carry out additional flights to Cyprus, improve connectivity and increase passenger traffic,â€ he said.
Those who have not been vaccinated must continue to meet testing and quarantine requirements to enter Cyprus.
Dubai shuts all bars and pubs for a month - THE INDEPENDENT UK
BY Cathy Adams
The move is one of a slew of restrictions introduced this month aimed at reducing cases in the city, which have climbed steadily in recent weeks.
Cinemas, plus entertainment and sports venues, will have their capacity restricted to 50 per cent.
Hotels, as well as hotel swimming pools and beaches, must operate at 70 per cent capacity.
Shopping malls will also operate at 70 per cent capacity.
Restaurants and cafes will remain open, but must shut by 1am.
â€œEnhanced precautionary measures will be stringently enforced,â€ according to the Dubai government.
â€œThe measures seek to further enhance efforts to combat Covid-19, and protect the health and safety of all citizens, residents and visitors.â€
The emirate already requires the wearing of face masks in public places, including outdoor spaces.
Last week, the United Arab Emirates was placed on the UKâ€™s â€œred listâ€ of countries, for which mandatory hotel quarantine is expected to be introduced later this month.
It joined another 32 countries, including Portugal, South Africa and much of South America, after the government announced plans to ramp up travel restrictions in a bid to stop new Covid-19 variants from entering the country.
The travel ban means all flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been grounded until further notice.
Last week, Dubai tightened its entry requirements, axing the free testing on arrival option for British visitors.
A handful of Britons are currently stranded in Dubai for the foreseeable, including a number of influencers.
FG approves N1.3bn surveillance equipment for Lagos, Abuja airports - PUNCH
BY Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved a contract worth about N1.3bn for the design, supply, and installation of PTZ long-range tarmac camera surveillance system at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja after a meeting of the council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Mohammed briefed the journalists on behalf of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
â€œThe total sum of the contract is N1,278,594,250. This is in order to upgrade and provide security and safety for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, especially to avoid incidence on the air site and runway,â€ he said.
Mohammed added that the council approved a contract worth N783,521,275 inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT for the procurement of two hydrographic survey boats for the National Inland Waterways Authority.
The minister who briefed journalists on behalf of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the contract was awarded in favour of Messrs First Index Project and Services Limited with a completion period of six months.
Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, on his part, said the council approved N35bn for the building of a power station by the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority in Akamkpa, Cross River State.
Adebayo said the contract for the power station, which to power the Calabar Export Processing Zone, was awarded to Messrs Mutual Commitment Nigeria Limited.
According to him, the exact contract sum is N35,411,119,159.47 and the contractor will finance 75 per cent of the project, which is in the sum of N26,558,339,337.10 while the NEPZA would finance 25 per cent which translate to N8,852,779,792.37.
He said the council approved a payback period of 10 years of the contractorâ€™s portion.
Adebayo said on completion after 11 months, the plant will be operated by the contractor for five years during which it will build local capacity that will take over the running of the plant.
He said, â€œThe whole intention of the upgrade of the two zones is to create zones with world-class standards. The Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment is desirous of making Nigeria a manufacturing hub, especially now that we have signed on to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
â€œSo, by putting 24-hour power in the two processing zones, it will make it more attractive to foreign investors to come and set up manufacturing concerns here in Nigeria.â€