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Without airlines’ subsidy economy tickets’ll sell for N130, 000 –Okonkwo, United Nigeria boss - THE SUN

SEPTEMBER 09, 2022

By Chinelo Obogo            [email protected] 07064781119

AS rising airfares continue to threaten passenger patronage at the nation’s airports, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, believes that forex scarcity, naira devaluation and high cost of aviation fuel have contributed in no small measure in plunging the aviation industry into serious financial crisis. He lamented that  domestic airlines are now contending with how to source forex, fuel for their operations, fuel and naira devaluation which has caused a depletion in passenger traffic and increase in flight tickets.

Presently, the lowest cost of economy air ticket is N65,000 for evening flights while on some routes, economy tickets can cost up to N100,000. Even at this rate, Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), says in this interview with aviation reporters, that if airlines weren’t susbidsing air fares, minimum cost of economy tickets would have  hit N130, 000.

Price fixing allegations

Nigerian airlines have not fixed prices becaus    e only cartels do that and to become a cartel to fix price is when you have a monopoly of that service. We are just one of the participants in the transport sector. In the transport sector, you have those by road, those by train and you even have those by ‘Okada’ and ‘keke’. For instance, if you are a biker and coming to the airport, you discover that the price is too much, you can decide to travel from here to Benin on your bike. You might choose a luxury bus or choose any other type of transportation.

So, we couldn’t have come together to fix price. A typical cartel is when you are a monopolist, a monopolist of goods or services. So, we have to get it clear. What has happened is that the time I met you during our first anniversary, I think the aviation fuel was less than N400 per litre and it was already biting hard. After that, it came to N600. Again, these airlines are operating in the same market; they buy from the same suppliers. So, the cost of operations is similar. If there was this sudden increase, they felt the bench price could have changed and besides, this is a very competitive industry.

I know that the first responsibility or assignment of the commercial manager of every airline in the morning is to check what other airlines are offering, ticket-wise and all that. So, I think that since these expenses are common, similar and the same, it is possible that some people made their calculations and others followed suit. But, I don’t think there was anything like that. I think the Consumer Protection Unit has realised that whatever statement and position they took on that was based on wrong information. Besides, even as at that time, N50, 000 paid for a ticket is still undervalued.

As we speak, aviation fuel is selling for about N800. You may check it. From the time we spoke up till now, there has been an increase of over 100 per cent. It’s a tough market, and not only is there over 100  percent increase on aviation fuel; ground handlers have notified of a 300 percent increase of cost of handling.

Some airports have increased their charges by more than 100 percent. At the end of the day, you find out that the airline operators are just cashiers and the only way this money is realised is when tickets are sold and passengers buy the tickets and are able to utilise the tickets. When that is done, out of that meagre fare, you begin to distribute.

We, the operators, are very conscious of the fact that it would be a big burden to the travelers, considering the economic situation in Nigeria and that this will definitely have a very negative effect on economic activities. That is why we have been trying to engage relevant agencies of government and policy makers to look into this because we strongly believe that aviation industry is an essential service to our national development and that it should be treated so.

When people don’t buy tickets, it affects our operations. It affects our volume. This aviation business is not one that gives too much margin, but you rely on the volume and that volume can only come if there are many passengers who can buy the ticket. When the tickets are high, fewer people will fly; some of the operators have loans to pay. It has affected all the airlines across the board. We the scheduled operators and a lot of airlines are really feeling it. It is out of patriotism that a lot of airlines are still operating in the current situation. It has been difficult for airlines to hedge jet fuel because they do not have 100% control of the situation. We do not regulate these prices and do not supply. We have requested to be granted license and also for the government to grant us special allocation at controlled prices because at the end of the day, it will be to the benefit of the travelers. We feel that if a sector like agriculture can be supported, if other means of transportation can be subsidised this is one area of transport that needs special attention now. If something is not done and the situation goes beyond the control of the operators, it will not augur well. As you know, our roads are quite scary now to travel on.

NCAA Begins Campaign for Fly2Green Nigeria Initiative - THISDAY

SEPTEMBER 09, 2022

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said it has kicked off the campaign for it’s Fly2Green Nigeria Initiative, which is designed to map out a decarbonization strategy for the Nigeria aviation industry.

The initiative is meant to domesticate the National Policy on Short-lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and implement strategic partnerships with relevant Green, Blue and Circular Economy stakeholders to launch the first Clean Air-Blue Skies Advocacy.


NCAA is making this push, as it joined the global community to commemorate the third International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies tagged: “The Air We Share”, focused this year on the trans-boundary nature of air pollution and the need for collective accountability and action.

NCAA in a statement said collective action requires collaborative efforts from businesses, communities, civil society; academia, policymakers and government to advocate accelerate and activate climate-smart solutions for Net-Zero emission footprint.

Stressing on the impact of Air pollution, NCAA said it is both a climate impact and health impact issue that transcends and permeates national borders, posing risks to 99 per cent of the world’s population who now breathe polluted air and causing 7 million premature deaths each year.

According to the NCAA, Africa does not contribute more than 3 per cent of Greenhouse Gas emissions, yet the continent is warming faster than any other region in the world and is half ready to make the transition to carbon neutral economies.

It said the aviation sector has a huge role to play in reducing these effects as a top-ten global emitter whose emissions are expected to rise dramatically by mid-century especially with it being responsible for an estimated 4.9 per cent of global warming and its climate impact is not restricted to its CO2 emissions alone, more than half of aviation’s climate impact comes from non-CO2 pollutants.

Against this backdrop, NCAA is advocating for urgent  multi-industry emissions reduction programs like International Civil Aviation Organization( ICAO’s) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) mechanism and the Fly2Green Nigeria Initiative .

Why young doctors are leaving Nigeria – Postgraduate medical college president - THE SUN

SEPTEMBER 09, 2022

By Job Osazuwa

President of National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN), Prof. Akin Osibogun, has given reasons Nigerian young doctors are leaving the country in droves. At a briefing, yesterday, at Ijanikin, Lagos, to announce the college’s 40th convocation ceremony holding September 15, where the institution will be churning out 416 fellows, 61 doctor of Medicine graduates and 14 in Postgraduate Diploma in Anaesthesia, he lamented that Nigeria already has shortage of doctors and therefore cannot fold its arms and allow the trend to continue. According to him, certain push and pull factors were responsible for the mass exodus of the medical personnel to developed world. He listed some of the factors as lack of job satisfaction, poor remuneration, shortage of medics in United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia and other developed nations. “We have shortage of doctors in Nigeria and the situation is being compounded by this migration of doctors. Those countries pulling out doctors are providing them incentives such as better pay and condition of service.

“We also consider our work environment. If you have the skills and training but you don’t have the necessary equipment to work with, you will be frustrated as a doctor watching your patients die. The job satisfaction has to be there for you to stay on it. Good remuneration is also very important to keep our doctors in Nigeria. These are some of the issues these young doctors disclose to us when we engage them. “If we improve the work environment and incentives (financial and non-financial) for doctors, I’m sure most of them will prefer to stay in their country. For instance, the government can build houses for the doctors to acquire on mortgage. When some of these things are in place, nobody will then want to become a second class citizen in another man’s country. “On our part, we are focused on training more doctors to become specialists and consultants so that even when some leave we will still have a significant number in Nigeria. “But training more has to begin from the medical school. The prolonged by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) makes it unlikely that we will graduate any doctor this year. And we might not have house officers next year, meaning there won’t be medical youth corps member in 2024 and there won’t be any doctor to enrol in our residency programme,” the president said. Osibogun said the issues leading to shortage of doctors in Nigeria year in, year out must be addressed holistically for the benefit of all Nigerians. The don stated that the Federal Government has been spending huge amount of money training these doctors in all the teaching hospitals, federal medical centres accredited general hospitals across the countrybto become specialists.

He said: “At the moment, we have 8,500 doctors undergoing comprehensive trainings in various hospitals. Since inception, the college has provided 7500 specialists who providing services within and outside Nigeria. These are postgraduate doctors trained to offer safe health care delivery.” He announced that the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Afe Babalola would on the convocation day be awarded Honorary Fellowship, having contributed to the development of postgraduate medical education in Nigeria and health care generally. “The event will be an opportunity for us to showcase the ability of the college and to request the support of the members of the public so that we can train better and train more. “One of the strategies that we adopted to achieve more efficient result is to leverage on technology and establish simulation training centres across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. These centres will allow us to train doctors using artificial equipment before they move on to human beings. “I use this opportunity to invite partners and spirited individuals to join the college in advance the course of postgraduate medical education in Nigeria by supporting the establishment of these simulation centres. We only have one in this college and another in Abuja. The Borno government is already showing interest so that we can have one in Maiduguri. “The objective of having these centres in all the geopolitical zones is to bring that technology and training closer to the resident doctors.”

FG Decries Underpayment Of Nigerian Doctors Abroad - LEADERSHIP

SEPTEMBER 09, 2022

He expressed disappointment that Nigerian doctors practicing abroad are being underpriced compared to their counterparts from other countries.

The head of civil service of the federation (HoCSF), Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, made this known on Tuesday at a meeting with the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Abuja.

In a statement signed by the deputy director of information in the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Mohammed Ahmed, Yemi-Esan advised the association to discourage young doctors from seeking greener pastures abroad, since they are being lowly priced because of their large population.

Yemi-Esan, while responding to demands by the body for an increase in their hazard allowances, urged the doctors to always remember that the government has done a lot for them with their sponsorship.

She lamented the rate at which resident doctors travel abroad to practice without serving the country adding that the government has done a lot for them.

The Head of Service further said that they should be considerate in their demands, having in mind dwindling government revenue and, most importantly, value addition to the polity.

Earlier, the president of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, commended the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan for repositioning the Federal Civil Service for greater performance and national economic growth.

Why Nigerians are experiencing delay in issuance of international passports – Official - PREMIUM TIMES

SEPTEMBER 10, 2022

An official said the NIS has started addressing the backlog

By Oge Udegbunam

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has explained why there is a delay in the issuance of passports to Nigerians in the last two years.

The spokesperson of the NIS, Amos Okpu, said the COVID-19 pandemic was a major setback in the production and processing of the travelling document.

Mr Okpu made this known during a PREMIUM TIMES weekly Twitter spaces on Wednesday.

“The COVID-19 19 affected operations, we didn’t shut down, and people still had access to make payments. When the space got open we had surplus applications,” he said.

“We have to treat them but no real production was going (on) across industries and passport production was not an exception,” he added.

He, however, said the NIS has started addressing the backlog.

“We have had an upsurge of applications during and after the covid. We need some time to stabilise the system. We are not happy about it, we are addressing the situation,” he emphasised.

He added that some of the materials used for the production of the passports are not sourced from the country due to inadequate technology.

As part of efforts to ensure that passports are distributed, he said officers of the service now work on weekends to make sure the backlog is being cleared.

Poor documentation

The NIS official also lamented cases of poor documentation on the part of applicants.

“Documentation is a challenge, sometimes phone numbers of applicants don’t exist. When we send bulk SMS to applicants, some don’t receive it because of wrong documentation,” he said.

“Some of the agents put their numbers in place of those of the applicants, it’s usually difficult to get across to them,” he said.

Addressing the issue of enhanced passports in some regions, he explained that after a review in 2017, the NIS settled to migrate to an enhanced passport and decided to follow a pattern or procedure to avoid confusion.

“We don’t have the technology. No time frame. We apologise and bear a little with us. It is not a hopeless situation. It’s a work in progress,” he said.

Hold us to account

He urged Nigerians to interrogate poor service deliveries by officers of the service.

“When an officer is asking for something against the law, we expect you to interrogate it. Raise it to a higher officer,” he said.

Earlier, Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, had said that there is no passport booklet shortage in Nigeria, as all backlogs had been cleared.

“In 2021 alone, we provided 1.3 million passports to Nigerians. As of today, there is no booklet shortage in Nigeria,” he said.

“As of the second quarter of 2022, the NIS has provided 645,000 passports out of the 750,000 applications received.

“To address the challenge of the backlog, we have sent 11,000 booklets to Ikoyi, 11,000 to Alausa and 8,000 to FESTAC centres in Lagos State. We have also sent sufficient booklets to all the centres nationwide to address this challenge,” the minister had said.

According to him, 10,000 passport booklets had been deployed to the new Port Harcourt passport production centre, to fasten passport issuance in the state.

Stop airfares restriction, travel agents tell foreign airlines - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 10, 2022

Nigerian travel agents under the aegis of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies have asked foreign airlines operating in Nigeria to unblock cheaper airfares on their Global Distribution System in Nigeria to reduce the burden of high ticket prices on the traveling public.

The association said it was worrisome that after the release of $265m blocked funds to the foreign carriers by the Central Bank of Nigeria, they were yet to remove the restrictions placed on the ticket inventories, a development they said had made many Nigerian travelers to buy tickets at exorbitant prices.

The NANTA President, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, made this position known at a news conference in Lagos on Thursday.

She said, “It is sad that Nigerians have to buy tickets to the tune of N3m to N4m and be charged as high as N1m to change travel dates even on tickets bought before this problem started.

“This is unacceptable, exploitative, and hostile to the survival of Nigerian aviation downstream sector and to which we call for sanity and return to the best inventory practices and deployment.”

The NANTA leader spoke barely two weeks after the CBN released $265m out of the $464m trapped funds in Nigeria.

The International Air Transport Association had advised the Federal Government of Nigeria to allow airlines to repatriate their ticket sales proceeds in order to enhance air connectivity and boost economic growth. The development made the Nigerian government to release over 50 per cent of the trapped funds in Nigeria.

Following the development, stakeholders in the travelling public expected foreign carriers operating in the country to remove the restrictions they had placed on cheaper fares on the Nigerian routes.

Sadly, airfares on the Nigerian routes have remained on the high side, a situation that has forced many Nigerians to go to neighbouring countries to fly to Europe, North America, Middle East, Asia and other destinations.

During the press conference, Akporiaye recalled how the trapped funds issue had affected the Nigerian travel sector.

She said the association made spirited efforts to ameliorate the situation.

The NANTA president said, “Indeed, the delay in the repatriation of funds belonging foreign airlines in the country, assumed an embarrassing scenario when IATA bared its fangs and labeled our country a debt-bearing nation, which brought us knocks to no end.

“As you are aware, NANTA embarked on empathy visits to all the foreign airlines to share in their pains and rob minds on engaging the government through the Ministry of Aviation and the Central Bank of Nigeria, to readily find solutions to payment and release of the trapped funds.”

She added, “In between these strangulating circumstances, the airlines withdrew lower inventories across board, selling at the highest possible openings as a way to cushion their funds being trapped.

“Amidst the challenging/exorbitant option for our clients and other travelling publics, not excluding the threat of job losses and closure of shops by most of our members, we held on to optimism that our government will respond.”

Akporiaye reiterated that the association was disappointed that the foreign carriers had yet to open better fares for the Nigerian travelling public.

She said, “Just recently, the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeri released about $265m to service this trapped funds and to which IATA hailed Nigeria for taking strategic measures to end the problem.

“Sadly, that gesture instead of breathing a return to order emboldened the foreign airlines to visit the Nigerian travelling public with most exploitative response in the name of protecting their business.

“As usual with them, their response which we could describe as “high fare pandemic, is solely targeted at Nigeria and Nigerians, and cannot be seen anywhere in Africa even in countries where they also have their funds being trapped.”

Airlines selling tickets in foreign currencies Nigeria’s enemies – ACF - THE NATION

SEPTEMBER 10, 2022

Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has thrown its weight behind the Federal Government over plans to sanction airlines that sell tickets in hard currency, saying such airlines are cogs in the wheels of Nigeria’s progress and economic development.

The Aviation Minister, Hon. Hadi Sirika, had earlier warned that any airline found selling tickets in foreign currency shall be sanctioned.

The socio-political umbrella of  northern states added that the stand taken by the Federal Government on the airlines in the country selling tickets in foreign currency was a welcome development.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Chairman of the ACF, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Friday.

“The socio-political umbrella of the Northern States, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has welcomed the stand taken by the Federal Government on the airlines in the country, selling tickets in foreign currency.

“ACF appreciates the stern move on deterring any local or foreign airline that transacts its business  in Nigeria, with foreign currency. This is because it negates the value of the Naira, and will, undoubtedly, throw Nigeria and its economy in a precarious situation.”

The ACF noted that no airline would venture to perpetrate such ugly thing in most countries across the globe and warned that, “any airline transacting a business in Nigeria, in foreign currency is an enemy of the nation.”

He, therefore, called on the aviation ministry to, as a matter of urgency, spread its tentacles in arresting such menace.

“No airline wishing any country good should involve itself in sabotaging its economy through dwarfing the value of its currency.”

The former agriculture minister noted that even in smaller African nations such callous economic investment was never allowed.

Chief Ogbeh called on the Central Bank of Nigeria ,(CBN), the finance ministry and  the President to take stern measures in ensuring that whoever arrives “our country must convert his/her currency into Naira for whatever business transaction, failure amounts to economic sabotage.”

How UAE Visa Restriction Put Nigerian Travellers On Edge - DAILY TRUST

SEPTEMBER 11, 2022

The visa restriction imposed on Nigerians below 40 years, by the authorities of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) has put businessmen from Nigeria on...

The visa restriction imposed on Nigerians below 40 years, by the authorities of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) has put businessmen from Nigeria on edge.

While it is still early to determine the long-term effect of the restriction, it is sending a shockwave through many businesses that rely on Dubai’s supplies.

Many of the affected businessmen interviewed by Daily Trust Saturday said that because of the action of the UAE government, they were contemplating diverting their businesses to China.

It is said that the restriction was as a result of various alleged cult clashes, crimes and other anti-social behaviours of many Nigerians in Dubai.

A video from one of the incidents in Sharjah on July 19, 2022, showed young men with machetes causing havoc in a neighbourhood at night.

The young men were yelling in an apartment’s parking lot, breaking window glasses of a car, chasing one another and destroying other properties.

Days after the video went viral, the Dubai police announced that they had arrested the suspected hooligans, and warned that the country would not tolerate a breakdown of law and order.

Shortly after the announcement, the UAE government immediately tightened visa regulation for Nigerians travelling into their country.

The visa portal was updated, and there are three new compulsory requirements for Nigerians for all visa applicants. These requirements are to be scanned and uploaded in the visa portal as provided to enable the applicant complete and a submit visa application online.

The three updated requirements are hotel reservation/place of stay in UAE, six-month bank statement and a return flight ticket.

While the UAE government did not state any specific reason for the new requirements, travel experts said the decision was to reduce the influx of persons with criminal intent into the country.

Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the new rule is already causing uneasy calm as many travellers scramble to meet the new requirements.

 

‘We are diverting businesses to China’

One of the affected businessmen who spoke with Daily Trust Saturday in Abuja on the condition of anonymity said, “These new visa rules have reduced the number of businessmen travelling to Dubai because most of us cannot meet requirements. 

“I was in Dubai for the last three weeks. I had to use family visa to access the country, but now, you would not be allowed into the country until they see your family physically and confirm that you followed all the regulations.

“Most of the businessmen going to Dubai are between 30 and 35 years old. My passport is reading 35 years old, but I started going to Dubai for business 10 years back. Since then, I have been importing baby wears nonstop, but I started experiencing shortage of supply from the day Dubai imposed these restrictions. 

“A visa we usually got within 24 hours now takes us not less than three weeks, and I have to use family visa, which means another cost of travelling with my wife. At the end of the whole thing you would run at a loss.

“To tell you the truth, I am no longer interested in doing business in Dubai. China is going to open soon and I will divert my business there. Many of us have already made this decision.” 

Some use Niger Republic passport 

Also, Muhammad Isuhu, who imports fabrics from Dubai to Katsina, said he and his friends were above 40 years but they had been facing visa delay despite providing their statements of account.

He said that to avoid the restrictions, some Nigerian businessmen would now go to Niger Republic to secure visa and travel without difficulty.

“I was advised to cross to Niger Republic and get their passport but I refused because I cannot travel abroad with another country’s passport; my conscience would not allow me to do that. What if something bad happens?

“It happened to one of our friends in China. When he had a minor issue with the Chinese authorities and the Niger Republic Embassy was contacted, they denied his citizenship and asked the authorities to hand him over to them for acquiring their passport illegally,” he said.

He added that in so many ways, the regulations would affect businesses in Nigeria, especially during the ember months.

“From this September, flight tickets and prices of goods in Dubai will start skyrocketing because businessmen rushing to Dubai for less expensive goods have been blocked.

“Hotels, goods and transportation during the ember months will be very expensive because people around the world go there for vacations and tourism.

“Also, internally, we face challenges of supply in terms of machines, raw materials, or finished products are blocked, and you cannot buy things judging by a picture on internet. For instance, for me selling textile materials, if they send me a picture with good designs and colour, how can I feel the texture? There’s no software or technology to make you feel that texture.

“As I am talking to you now, my shoe factory has signed a contract to supply 50,000 pairs of local shoes but the restriction is delaying me. It is actually affecting business interests in Nigeria,” he added.

Abubakar Nasir Sadauki, a Kano-born businessman who presently resides in Dubai, said Nigerians were battling discrimination and difficulty in getting entry visas for those who want to enter the country.

He said this started some months back when the said Nigerians allegedly hit some residents’ vehicles with machetes.

“Since that incident happened, all Nigerians here have been battling a lot of restrictions. They now deny Nigerians visas.

“Now, they have refused to employ Nigerians and they don’t grant us visas. And they have put some very difficult conditions to applicants.

“Some of the conditions include submission of one’s bank statements and some important documents to make sure that one is really a businessman and must be 40 years and above.

“Even after meeting these conditions, one could spend like 10 days before getting it, unlike before that it hardly took more than two days.

“For those of us that are still inside, it is only those that were able to renew their visas before the incident that are still here. We are in a very difficult time here,” he explained.

Similarly, another businessman in Kano, Abdullahi Suyudi, said he used to travel almost on a monthly basis but has not been able to get into the country since the restriction started.

Suyudi, who buys mobile phone accessories from the UAE, said they would have to opt for other countries to keep their businesses flourishing.

“I hardly spent one month without travelling to Dubai, but now, it is almost impossible. We have to either buy directly without going there, or alternatively, buy from other countries, especially China.

“We prefer Dubai products is because they are better and of higher quality than those from other countries.

“This situation has adversely affected our businesses, and by extension, Nigeria’s economy. We do not deserve a general punishment by the atrocity committed by few people among us, who are probably not even businessmen,” Suyudi added.

He appealed to the Nigerian authorities to address the diplomatic row in the interest of the country’s economy. 

Daily Trust Saturday reports that Dubai is one of the most frequently visited countries for business and tourism by Nigerians. About 200,000 Nigerians visit the country annually, either for business or tourism.

According to analysts, before now, many Nigerians travelled to Dubai with very relaxed requirements until some Nigerians began to abuse the privilege. 

Most of the analysts said the new development was good as it would prevent fraudulent people from tarnishing the image of Nigeria in the Arab country.

The director of research and strategy, Zenith Travels, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, said the UAE could impose any requirement it deemed necessary in the interest of her country and citizens. 

He said, “Every country has the right to introduce some consular requirements to protect their citizens by ensuring that only eligible tourists, visitors or businessmen come into their country.

“The UAE has been very relaxed with their visa. It is the most relaxed in Middle East countries. Unfortunately, we have not behaved well. We have abused it. At a time, they stopped single ladies from coming, except they are 40 and above. 

“I have no objection to it. It is their country. They need to do what they need to do to safeguard other tourists, apart from Nigerians and ensure that their country is protected.”

Restriction due to abuse of visa process – Travel agents 

Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday, the president of NANTA, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, blamed Nigerians for the new requirements, saying the UAE authorities must have changed its entry rules due to abuse of the visa process. 

She said although travel agents were not happy with the development, everybody must learn to live by it. 

“They must have their reason. It is a diplomatic thing and there is nothing anybody can do about it. We don’t know why they did that. Maybe they are not comfortable with what many Nigerians are doing. Maybe they did it due to an increase in crimes by Nigerians.

“Before then, we learnt that there was a situation where a policeman was killed. I don’t think it is just that one incident. Maybe it is a compilation of different incidents that have been going on. And probably from their investigation (I have not confirmed that), it seems to always be the Nigerian community perpetrating it, according to them. We have not confirmed this. Everything is according to them. They have not officially released any report to the Nigerian police to say that this is the percentage of Nigerians committing crimes.

“But it is a diplomatic thing. Every country has a right to do whatever they want to do, and we cannot question them. Are we happy about it? We are not, but there is nothing we can do about it. It is their country, so they determine how people come into it.

“It is sad, but it is a lesson to us too that when people give us easy access, we should not abuse it. If you abuse the easy access it will be taken away from you and you cannot fault them. You cannot go to another man’s house and determine how he should operate.

“It is a lesson for all of us. And enough of even going to another man’s country. Why don’t we all sit down here and see how to make things better for ourselves? Running away to other people’s country and doing business or for holidays are two different things. I am not saying people should not travel to do business, neither am I saying people should not travel for holidays because if it is just business and holidays, we won’t be where we are now. If it is business you will come back and if it is a holidays you will come back. And there’s absolutely no reason the UAE would change their rules,” she said.

Mrs Akporiaye advised Nigerians visiting Dubai to do the right thing to avoid a situation where the UAE would further tighten the requirements. She said that for those with legitimate businesses to carry out in Dubai, submitting their bank statements for six months should not be a problem.

She said, “The problem is that those who go in the name of business and holidays don’t come back. And it is not only in the UAE but every other country.

“So, there’s really nothing much to say than to just respect their decision. It is not going to be easy but everybody has to adjust. And for those that have legitimate things to go and do, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Francisca K. Omayuli, also advised Nigerians to be guided by the new regime.

“The attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria has been drawn to a video on the social media, purportedly showing stranded Nigerians who arrived at the airport in Dubai, on August 29, 2022 but were denied entry into the country despite having valid visas.

“The Nigerian Mission in Dubai has clarified that most of the supposedly stranded Nigerians were issued with family visas, only to arrive Dubai without any family member. Consequently, they were denied entry and advised to return to their country and apply for the appropriate visas. However, those persons allowed entry into the country have their family members in the UAE. 

“While those who claimed their family members were on another flight were told to wait at the airport pending their arrival,” Omayuli explained.

Nigeria’s passport low ranking stirs debate on poor image, governance - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 11, 2022

The Nigerian passport has been ranked 100th out of 199 countries in the 2022 third quarter global passport ranking by the Henley Passport Index.

This index is published quarterly by the Henley & Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm.

The Index compared the visa-free access of 199 different passports to 227 travel destinations and ranked them based on global access and mobility.

The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information. The Index indicated that Nigeria moved one place down the log as it was ranked 99th in the Q2 2022 index and placed below some African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Mali, and Malawi, among others.

In the HPI Q1 2022 index, Nigeria was placed at the 98th position alongside Ethiopia. Similarly, in the Q1 2021 index, Nigeria ranked 91 and had access to 46 countries, which indicated a steady regression.

Three Asian countries, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea were on top of the chart. With a Japanese passport, one could travel to 193 countries without requiring a visa. On the chart, Nigeria had a zero visa-free score which meant that with a Nigerian passport, one would require a visa to be granted access to any country.

In a similar report by the Henley & Partners, Henley Global Mobility report, the group compared the Global Peace Index with the passport ranking, stating that the level of peacefulness in a country also contributed to the position of the country’s ranking in the HPI. The report revealed a strong correlation between the two ratings.

Recall that Nigeria was ranked 143 among 163 independent nations and territories according to their level of peacefulness in the 16th edition of the 2022 Global Peace Index published in June.

In the Henley Global Mobility report, a Quondam Fellow of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and Member of the Advisory Committee of the Andan Foundation, Stephen Klimczuk-Massion, said that a passport was more than merely a calling card that affected the reception one got when one travelled.

Klimczuk-Massion stated, “Depending on which passport you carry and where you are going, a passport will have an impact on the kind of welcome you will receive, where you can go, and how safe you will be when you get there.

“Now more than ever, it’s a mistake to think of a passport as merely a travel document that allows you to get from A to B. The relative strength or weakness of a particular national passport directly affects the quality of life for the passport holder and may even be a matter of life and death in some circumstances.”

Experts noted that poor governance and mismanagement of resources impeded Nigeria’s global acceptance.

Commenting on the issue, a peace and conflict expert and professor of political science at the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Akinsola Agagu, stated that the issue bothered on Nigeria’s image and perception by other countries across the world.

He noted that there were other factors such as fraud, corruption, and insecurity that had affected the trust other countries had in Nigeria, urging an urgent step to redeem Nigeria’s image globally.

He said that Ghana was above Nigeria on the chart because the level of corruption in Ghana as perceived worldwide was quite better compared to Nigeria, which had afforded them the chance to make headway over Nigeria.

The peace and conflict expert opined that the rate of conflict in Nigeria was high as seen in all sectors, adding that the religious and ethnic conflict affected elections. He added that fraudulent practices had further tarnished the image of Nigerians, contributing to the cynical global perception.

Stating the solution to the issue, Agagu said, “Nigeria needs to show transparency, that’s why we need good leadership. Nigerians should choose rightly in the forthcoming 2023 elections. We need a firm leader that can mobilise people to do right. Look at Ghana, they didn’t start on a good note. Things changed when they got good leadership. Now they’ve climbed the ladder of development.

“Nigeria is blessed with a lot of resources but the poverty level is still high due to mismanagement. If we had a good economy, human trafficking through the desert to other countries would not occur. Several years ago, Nigerians were comfortable, people overseas and even foreigners would invest in Nigeria but the bad economy, high cost of production, electricity issues, fraud, and insecurity have deprived us of that.”

He stressed that good leaders and patriotic national managers not ethnically biased or seeking personal gain were what Nigeria needed to get better. He further stated that when the change was effected, Nigerians in diaspora would return home to rebuild the country with Nigeria taking its rightful place globally.

Also, a professor of political science and expert in international studies and foreign policy at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Yusufu Yakubu, noted that issues relating to criminality affected Nigeria’s position in the world.

He stated that the citizens’ diplomacy organised by former president, Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration, aimed at redeeming the negative image a few individuals created by indulging in illicit acts labelling Nigeria a criminal country.

Yakubu said, “There are other countries whose citizens are involved in criminal activities but are not labelled as such. Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world. Anywhere a black person is seen committing a crime, such person is assumed to be a Nigerian, and because our borders are porous, criminals migrate into Nigeria pretending to be indigenes. They commit some atrocities which further delineate the image of the country.”

He advised the government to pay attention to creating a new image and rebranding the country, adding that the issue of bad governance must be dealt with in earnest because it was markedly affecting the country’s image.

He stated, “We need to improve in terms of insecurity, welfare, and employment creation. The lingering ASUU strike is also affecting Nigeria’s image. We are in a state of globalisation and these issues are affecting us internally and externally. The concerns with the labour union should be settled so that the incessant strikes can stop. We need to look into these issues to redeem our image.”

In his comment on the development, a professor of international relations at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Funso Adesola, said that Nigeria’s poor international rating generally was due to the negative global perception.

According to him, Nigerians all over the world are regarded as suspects who caused all sorts of dehumanising scrutiny in international airports. He added that such profiling was unfair.

He explained that the rate of the exodus of Nigerians overseas further contributed to the low rating, stating however that the level of insecurity and harsh economy propelled migration to other countries. This, he noted, was a result of bad leadership and mismanagement of resources.

He said, “In Nigeria, it is difficult to get employment after graduating from a tertiary institution. People are looking for greener pastures. Many oil-producing Arabian countries are using their funds pretty well. Unfortunately, in this part of the world, we squander our oil resources. Wealth is not circulating, and there is no hope for the average Nigerian.”

Adesola also noted that Nigeria’s demography was over 200 million and it was likely to find a Nigerian anywhere in the world seeking opportunities. He added that most Nigerians leave the country to study abroad, stating that such a move was an escapist movement.

On the solution to the situation, he stated, “There is inappropriate management of our country, a deficit in governance, and no infrastructure in the land. The resources have denied citizens of basic amenities. Appropriate structuring in governance will enhance the quality of life of our people and give hope to individuals in getting employment and healthcare as and when they need it.

“This is a governance issue. If our resources are well managed, we will not be where we are currently. We are supposed to be the cynosure of all eyes to other African countries, attracting more investments and people in different parts of the world to enhance our standard of living and glory as a nation.”

On his part, a peace and conflict expert and professor of public administration at the University of Calabar, Cross River State, Felix Akpan, said that the bad image caused by fraudulent persons increased the low rating and thorough scrutiny of Nigerians seeking greener pastures in other countries.

He noted that the internal crisis, insurgency, kidnappings, and poor government policies, also affected the rating, stating that the shady image constantly fuelled ill-treatment of Nigerians around the globe. He further said that most African countries weren’t as rich and populous as Nigeria, noting that such placed them above Nigeria on the chart.

He stated, “How many citizens of Mali or eastern European countries will you see in other countries such as China, the UK, or America? Nigerians are everywhere. This has both positive and negative implications on our image.

“The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission has been intervening and redeeming the Nigerian image abroad by looking into the issues that affect Nigerians and challenging countries on issues. But there is more to be done. The Nigerian government needs to pay more attention to these issues.

“Nigerians are likewise to blame for these issues. We sometimes try to play smart by not obeying stipulated rules. At the airport, a Nigerian tries to shun queues. When immigration notices you, you are scrutinised more just by disobeying the rules.

“Nigerians shouldn’t travel overseas to perpetrate evil but to do the right things. If one travels for the right reasons, the rate of assault will be minimal. These countries allow people who want to contribute to their economy without much interrogation.”

London Tube Services Disrupted Due to Power Supply Issues - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 12, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Some London underground operations are experiencing disruptions following power supply issues this morning, Transport for London says, as Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral draws crowds into the city.

The Piccadilly line is still suffering “minor delays” between Acton Town and Heathrow Terminals/Uxbridge due to a power supply issue earlier, according to TfL’s website. 

The Victoria line, whose operations had already been fully suspended earlier today due to an energy problem, is now partially halted between Seven Sisters and Warren Street while a faulty train is being fixed at King’s Cross. Severe delays have been reported on the rest of the line, TfL says.

The travel issues occur as TfL warns of busy services and possible station closures amid a growing flow of visitors to London following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Read more: Queen’s Funeral Set for Sept. 19; Charles Takes the Throne

 

(Updates to reflect current operating status of affected lines)

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