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‘New airport terminals working’ - THE NATION

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

By Kelvin Osa Okunbor

Three out of the five new international airport terminals built with a $500 million  loan secured from China Import Export Bank are working optimally, investigations has shown.

The deal was signed in 2013 and scheduled for completion two years later. The terminals in Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt were inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari from where foreign carriers have been operating.

But, the terminals in Enugu and Lagos, which though completed, are yet to process flights, investigations show.

Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Rabiu Yadudu, had given two previous dates: last December and February, this year for the inauguration of the new Lagos Airport Terminal.

While the facility in Enugu would open for international flights this Friday, with Ethiopian Airlines restarting operations to connect its capital Addis Aba in the Horn of Africa to other parts of the globe; the terminal in Lagos is expected to be open before the end of the year.

A source at the terminal said  though the complex had been completed with fittings and other facilities installed, flights processing at the terminal might have to wait for a longer time pending the construction and linking of the bridge connecting the new airport with the 40-year-old facility.

When The Nation visited the site at the weekend, workers of China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) were carrying out skeletal work at the sprawling complex. One of the workers said the firm had not abandoned the facility, but that they were working based on the template given for them.

He said denied that the company had abandoned the complex.

In an interview, General Manager, Public Affairs, FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu confirmed that the terminals had been completed and were running optimally.

She said FAAN was collaborating with the Ministry of Aviation and the contractor to ensure that the facility was open for airlines and passengers before the end of the year.

According to the authority’s spokesperson, four out of the five terminals were already in use and that the new terminals in Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt were running flights except Lagos New Terminal, which was yet to have the connecting its bridge to the old terminal fixed.

Yakubu said: “The new international terminals are running optimally already in Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.’’

The new terminal in Enugu will be open for international flights on October 1, 2021.’’

“Only the new terminal in Lagos is yet to be open for flights because the bridge linking the old to the new terminal and some buildings in between which are to be demolished were yet to be taken care off.

“The terminal building is completed, there are already gadgets, equipment and everything fixed inside. What is holding it back is the issue of the bridge and once that is taken care of the facility will be open?”

She dismissed claims that the contractor handling the project had abandoned the site affirming that such information was not only misleading but a disincentive to efforts already dissipated to create a new ambience around the Lagos Airport.

She assured that the Minister of Aviation; Captain Hadi Sirika had given his word that the Lagos New Terminal would be open for flights before the end of the year to pave the way for the remodelling of the 40 year old terminal.

But, sources close to industry unions: Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and National Association of Aviation Professionals (ANAP) link the delay in fixing the Lagos New Terminal for flights to ongoing controversies surrounding the proposal of concession of four International airports.

The unions had picked holes in the concession proposal canvassed by the Federal  Government for the airports.

A fortnight ago, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) invited aviation unions to engage them on the strategy to mobilize against concession of airports.

Besides, the National Assembly Committee on aviation led by Senator Smart Adeyemi last month   lamented the delay in commissioning the new airport terminal in Lagos.

While paying an unscheduled visit to the site of the new airport terminal in Lagos called on the Federal Government to consider steps that would fastback the completion and commissioning of the facility.

On his part, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Hon.  Nnolim Nnaji called for speedy completion of the project.

On his part, Senator Adeyemi expressed disenchantment over the abandonment of the new project.

Describing it as almost 99 per cent completed, he wondered why such a project had not been put to use for over a year even when it was almost completed.

He said: “For me, I think the edifice is 99 percent loan  completed. It’s something that should be commended. It is also depressing that it seems to have been abandoned. It is not explicable for a project like this not to have been put to use since last year when it was nearly completed.

According to Adeyemi, there was the need for FAAN and the federal government to make sure that all obstacles disrupting the take-off of the terminal building are taken off so that Nigerians can have the benefit of the multi-billion naira that had been expended here.

“I do not think that anyone will be able to defend this. The project has been completed. This must not be allowed to be abandoned. We have had projects of similar types in this country that have been abandoned. If care is not taken, we will see that some of the premises here are becoming bushy, but that is not to say the airport is not well-kept, but the fact that this terminal is not put to use.

“We want to call on the federal government to give us all the assurances that are necessary. Looking at the challenges confronting the aviation industry today, in terms of Covid-19, which makes it difficult for the sector to meet its needs, there is a need for the federal government to give the assistance that is necessary.”

The senator who confirmed that the federal government was still owing the Chinese for the $500 million loan, added that since the project itself was awarded by the federal government, the government should therefore come to the aid of FAAN  to  ensure the new terminal is completed and put into use.

“We don’t want to come back here the next time and still see this building in this shape. It will be painful for us. We will continue to mount the pressure that is needed to ensure that the federal government gives the assistance that is needed. What is needed to take over this building, I don’t think it’s beyond what the federal government should pay. FAAN should be able to pay if not for depression confronting the industry.

Adeyemi , who described the Lagos terminal as a facility that will further improve the image of Nigeria when completed, said what a visitor coming into the country through the Lagos airport will first see is the terminal building which will create an impression of the nation to them.

“So, we will continue to mount pressure on the government to do the needful. If possible, we will put it in writing so that the ministry of finance can be aware that we came here and what we have seen demands that the attention of the federal government to come to the aid of FAAN so that this place can be opened.”

In his own contribution, the chairman, House Committee on aviation, Mr Nnaji Nnolim explained how the non-usage of the terminal was affecting the old terminal.  According to Nnolim: “To lay credence to what my colleague has just said, I think the federal government and FAAN should do something about this terminal so that it will improve the image of the country, create customer comfort. It is also important that the federal government does something about the Chinese loan so that this can facilitate the opening of the terminal. There is a need for this terminal to be opened so that you can use it.

“Whether the government is supporting in paying back the loan, it is still the responsibility of FAAN to pay back the government the money. So, it is important for this place to be open so that it can be put to use.”

COVID-19 business booms: Inbound travellers bribe officials to evade tests, experts warn of spike - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

Adepeju Adenuga, Deborah Tolu-Kolawole and Solomon Odeniyi

Virologists and other health experts have warned that corrupt practices of airport officials who aid inbound passengers to evade the COVID-19 test may lead to the spike in infections in the country.

The PUNCH gathered on Sunday that passengers who were supposed to undergo the test were being aided to shun it by airport officials who were collecting between N10,000 and N15,000 bribes from them.

It was learnt that law-abiding passengers who paid the mandatory N51,400 for the test were sometimes not assigned to any laboratory by the officials.

A professor of Medical Virology at the University of Maiduguri, Prof Marycelin Baba, and other health experts who spoke to The PUNCH, blamed test evaders for the increasing infections.

They warned that unless the errant officials and the evaders are checked, the country will record more infections.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had, in a memo dated September 11, 2021, relaxed restriction on inbound travellers without evidence of payment for their COVID-19 test.

According to the memo signed by the Director-General of NCAA, Musa Nuhu, airlines were directed to board passengers without evidence of payment for Day Seven COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test or generate paid QR code/permit to fly.

The memo was titled “Permission for airlines to board passengers travelling to Nigeria who are unable to show evidence of payment for Day Seven COVID-19 PCR test or generate paid QR code/permit to fly”.

The NCAA stated that the decision was taken in view of the challenges some travellers to Nigeria were experiencing while trying to fill their health and travel history into Nigeria’s international travel portal.

Before, foreign travellers were required to show proof of payment for their COVID-19 PCR test before they were boarded.

The NCAA, however, said with the new directive,  such passengers would be required to make payment for the repeat day-7 COVID-19 PCR test at their destination airports in Nigeria.

According to Nigeria International Travel Portal, inbound passengers are supposed to pay N51,400 each for the test at their destination airports.

The PUNCH findings, however, indicated that airport officials in Lagos and Abuja were cashing in on this directive to make illegal money.

Sources at the airports said the officials waved the test for passengers who could part with between N10,000 and N15,000.

A passenger, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “When I arrived from Canada on September 17, I discovered that I was the only one waiting to pay for the mandatory test at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. After paying the money, another passenger told me he didn’t go through the hassle of undergoing the test after giving the airport officials N10,000.”

A security official, who spoke to The PUNCH on the condition of anonymity, confirmed there were reports of the illegal practice.

He said security agents would soon descend on the corrupt airport officials.

“We have reports of officials collecting bribes from passengers. We are monitoring them and we will soon fish out some scapegoats,” the security official stated

Narrating his ordeal, the law-abiding passenger, who arrived in the country on September 17, stated that an airport official assisted him with the documentation of his pre-arrival COVID-19 test because he was unable to submit his registration details prior to his arrival.

The traveller stated,   “He asked me to pay and informed me that I would receive a receipt and details of my test centre via email. I paid the sum of N51,950:00  for my day seven COVID-19 test.  But I have received neither the receipt nor details of my test centre.” According to him, he was supposed to take day 7 test on Thursday.

He further said that he sent to the airport officials,  numerous emails requesting a receipt of the payment of N51,9500  and an email assigning him to a test centre, but his requests were ignored.

He added, “I have called their telephone number repeatedly but it is switched off. I have sent messages to the number via WhatsApp but they were not delivered.  According to WhatsApp, that number was last active on July 23, 2020.

He stated, “I contacted my preferred test centre  on Wednesday, September 22 and Thursday, September 23 and I was informed that they did not have my name on their list for post-arrival COVID test.”

When contacted,  the General Manager,  Public Affairs The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Herietta Yakubu said, “Honestly I am not aware of this,  I am going to discuss this with the management of the airport to find out if there is any such racket going on in the airport. We would look into it and I can assure you anyone found doing that would face the wrath of the law, it is not allowed you are supposed to do the proper test and the test is for your own good. So what do you want to derive by not doing that.

“Although the COVID-19 test is not a  responsibility of the airport authority, it is handled under the Ministry of Health but I can assure you  Nigerians do it, because without a COVID-19  test result you can travel.”

The General Manager, Public Relations, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority  Mr Sam Adurogboye when in a SMS interview said, “I don’t react to rumours. But if you have evidence of that, we will be glad to have it and take it up from there.”

N39,000 is the official rate, not N51,000, we will investigate graft – Presidential committee

But the Secretary to the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Dr Muktar Muhammed, when contacted by The PUNCH on Sunday told one of our correspondents that the government was not aware of the excesses going on at point of entries.

He however promised to investigate and prosecute errant passengers.

Muhammed said, “N39,000 is the official rate and not N51,000. The test is not meant to be done at the airport. It is supposed to be done on Day 7.

“However, they are supposed to pay before arrival or upon arrival. Let me investigate.

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  • “It is illegal for anyone to collect any money at the airport. If anyone has been collecting money for whatever reason, it is wrong and we would investigate that and take action if anyone is found culpable.

    “Second, passengers should also know it is wrong of them to evade established protocols. These protocols are not meant to punish anyone or extort money from individuals, it is meant to protect the citizens of the country.

    “If you bribe someone and go home, you are also cheating yourself because you are taking the infection to your family.

    “It is really bad for the system, themselves, their families and wrong for the country. Anybody we catch, we will seriously deal with them. This amounts to sabotage of the public health and it is something that can be prosecuted under the quarantine act of the federal republic of Nigeria.”

    Virologists knock government officials, say evaders responsible for high community transmission rate

    Virologists in separate interviews with The PUNCH condemned the activities of corrupt government officials who continued to aid travellers to evade testing and mandatory quarantine.

    The virologists also blamed the evading travellers for the high rate of community infections in the country.

    A professor of Medical Virology at the University of Maiduguri, Prof  Baba, said, “The health of the public is paramount. You hear in the news that inbound passengers test positive daily. This is terrible. People who are caught should be sanctioned and also made to face the law.

    “One of the highest fuelling means of COVID cases is through community infections. When you come into the country and you refuse to subject yourself to necessary protocols, you are not only putting yourself at risk, you are also putting others at risk and this is not fair.

    “This is why it is very difficult to believe the figures we get daily because you have protocol evaders who continue to pose serious threats. You have people with fake vaccination cards and then you have people who evade tests.

    “The government should make sure that the ports are well manned and make sure they sanction evaders and those enabling them and this goes beyond naming and shaming. They should be well sanctioned.”

    Also, an Associate Professor of Virology at the Osun State University, Waidi Sule, said, “It has a lot of implications on the health system. We need to find some of them who have evaded why they have done that, despite the danger it portends.

    “The virus can spread from them to many people, including their families.

    “Beyond this, we need to investigate if the test is clumsy or they delay or the place they keep them is not tidy? We need to also know.

    “I know they would not try to evade from where they are coming from because the punishment for evading is heavy. We also made the law very strict for those evading and those aiding them.”

    A professor of Microbiology, Dennis Agbolahor, also said inbound travellers evading COVID-19 tests were responsible for the coronavirus variants in the country.

     Agbolahor, who is also a former Vice-Chancellor of the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma,  said, “Inbound travellers evading COVID-19 test are responsible for most of the cases we see. They are the ones bringing the variants into the country; the variants were imported and now they are multiplying in communities.”

    20,647 test samples from 45 laboratories received in 19 days  – NCDC

    Meanwhile, information from the website of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and analysed by one of our correspondents on Sunday revealed that from September 1 to September 19, 2021, a total of 20,647 test samples of inbound passengers to Nigeria from 45 laboratories across the country were received by the centre.

    This is as the centre also listed 48 laboratories which include the federal medical centres, federal and state-owned hospitals and other private laboratories for failing to send reports of inbound passengers who tested in their laboratories.

    During the period under review, a total of 554 passengers also tested positive.

    The PUNCH reports that as of September 25, 2021, Nigeria had reported a total of 204,201 positive cases out of a total of 2,997,060 test samples with 192,429 discharged cases and 2,674 case fatalities.

    The government has continued to advocate vaccination to achieve herd immunity by 2022, a move which experts had termed as unrealisable given the low rate of vaccination in the country.

    The latest protocol by the NCDC partly reads

    “All passengers are required to strictly adhere to instructions given by Port Health Services at the arrival terminal. Passengers who fail to adhere to instructions will be sanctioned by relevant security personnel.

    “Passengers would be required to go through the routine Port Health screening and present electronic or print-out evidence of pre- boarding COVID-19 PCR test and the Permit to Travel Certificate/QR Code; Present their international passports for clearance through the Nigerian Immigration Service System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System.

    “Proceed on mandatory seven days self-isolation/quarantine in their selected in-country destination. Passengers are advised to avoid physical interaction with friends, family, colleagues, and other members of the public. Passengers should check their emails/text messages regularly for updates regarding the arrangement for their repeat COVID-19 PCR test from the laboratory of their choice.

    “During this period the passenger may be contacted by the COVID-19 Response team to ascertain state of isolation, day-7 testing appointment and health status.

    “Show-up at the laboratory/sample collection centres on the 7th day of arrival and pay the applicable fees for the COVID-19 PCR test. Samples will be taken, and a COVID-19 PCR test done. The selected private laboratory will send a reminder text message, email, or phone call to the passenger a day before the appointment.”

    Airlines Consider Fare Adjustment, Lament Naira Free Fall - INDEPENDENT

    SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

    By Olusegun Koiki

    Activities in the Nigerian aviation in­dustry are nearing zero following the consistent crash of naira against major currencies, especially the dollars.

    Information gathered indicated that the adverse economic impact is having untold challenges on some of the service providers in the sector, especially the air­line operators and the ground handling companies.

    In a bid to remain in the business, it was learnt that some of the airline operators are already considering rais­ing the airfares a bit to sail through the challenges.

    For instance, no fewer than 40 aircraft are held up in different maintenance facilities in Europe, America and the Middle East, following the inability of the operators to return the aircraft from C-check and other maintenance facilitiesa broad. ­

    Air Peace, which is the largest operator, has about 27 of its aircraft in various maintenance facilities a broad, while others like Azman Air, Max Air and Dana Air equally have aircraft outside the shores of the country.

    For the ground handlers, the plans to beef up their operations with the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment was derailed as they scamper for dollars in black market at very high rates.

    The Nigerian Aviation Han­dling Company (NAHCO) Plc and the Skyway Aviation Han­dling Company(SAHCO) Plc had plannedtoinvestaboutN2billion each on equipment acquisition at the projected rate of N400 to a dollar.

    As at last weekend, a dollar was over N550, while mid last week, it skyrocketed to N575.

    Speaking ontheissue, Mr. Obi Mbanuzuo, Chief Operating Offi­cer(COO), DanaAir, saidthatthe airlinehadtore-evaluateallitsoff­shoreagreements, requirements and payments.

    Mbanuzuo lamented that Dana Air, for instance, gets all its income in naira, but has to procure all equipment and spare parts indollars, stressingthatthe airline was already considering slight adjustment to airfares.

    HecalledontheCentralBank of Nigeria (CBN) to create a spe­cial window where foreign ex­change could be accessed easily and at a cheaper rate to indige­nous airline operators.

    He said, “As it stands now, we have to re-evaluate all our off­shoreagreements, requirements and payments. It’s one issue we have been hammering. We oper­ateonlydomesticservicesandall our income stream is 100 percent naira denominated and it is be­coming worrisome. Right now, ouronlyoptiontostayafloatwith thecurrentsituation isto slightly adjust the fares.


    Fuel Shortages Pile Pressure on Johnson as U.K. Crisis Escalates - BLOOMBERG

    SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

    (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to do more to ease a supply chain crisis in Britain after pumps ran dry at some gasoline stations because of panic buying.

    With a shortage of truck drivers raising the prospect of widening disruption to food and fuel deliveries in coming weeks, the government moved late on Sunday to temporarily suspend competition rules and allow companies to coordinate fuel supplies to the most affected regions. 

    That came after Johnson announced measures including a u-turn on relaxing immigration rules for foreign truckers and poultry workers and called in army examiners to help ramp up driving tests for heavy goods vehicles. 

    “We have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can still be made in the event of a serious disruption,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said.

    Businesses and opposition politicians said the 5,000 new visas for haulers until Christmas would barely scratch the surface of a 100,000 shortfall that’s been exacerbated since the U.K. left the European Union. Ruby McGregor-Smith, president of the British Chambers of Commerce, likened the visas to “throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.”

    While some countries across Europe are contending with soaring energy prices and pockets of labor shortages, the U.K. is facing a particularly taxing winter as it recovers from the pandemic. Recent weeks have seen hospitals struggling with a backlog of patients, empty supermarket shelves and now lines at gasoline stations.

    Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, blamed Johnson’s government for failing to prepare for the consequences of Brexit. The U.K. voted to leave the EU in 2016 and its post-departure transition agreement ended at the beginning of this year. “We’ve got an absolute crisis in this country through a lack of planning on behalf of the government,” Starmer said.

    Finding Truckers

    BP Plc, the second-largest fuel retailer in the U.K., said it had run out of the main grades of fuel at almost a third of its stations. Outside the motorway network, at least half of petrol stations had run dry by Sunday, the Financial Times reported, citing Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association.

    Read More: More BP Stations in U.K. Run Out of Fuel Amid Panic Buying

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Sunday sought to allay concerns, telling BBC television “there’s actually plenty of petrol to go around.” The shortage of drivers for the fuel supply industry amounted to “one, two, three hundred.” He nevertheless left open the prospect of drafting in the army to supply petrol stations. “We’ll do whatever’s required.” 

    Until the weekend, the government had insisted that haulage companies should train up locals and paid them more. The changes to immigration rules -- which also add 5,500 visas for poultry workers -- lasts for 12 weeks. 

    Johnson has talked up Brexit as an opportunity to remake the British economy away from the EU’s rules and its labor pool. The argument is that foreign workers dragged down domestic wages and discouraged recruitment and training. But business argues it needs a longer period to transition away from that reliance on EU workers. 

    Furlough Ends

    The food and fuel shortages add to a pile of daunting challenges for Johnson, with Britons facing a surge in electricity and gas prices just as some key pandemic support measures are unwound. 

    The flagship furlough program that saw the government pay the wages of more than 11 million jobs during the pandemic ends on Sept. 30. The Labour Party released analysis late on Sunday that showed some 81,000 aviation workers are among those who risk losing their jobs when the furlough program closes.

    On Oct. 6, a 20-pound ($27) weekly uplift on social security payments called Universal Credit comes to an end, a decision that’s caused disquiet among Conservative rank and file because of its effect on poorer people.

    Newspapers have started referring to a “winter of discontent,” a politically charged phrase evoking memories of 1978-79 when the U.K. economy was brought to its knees by strikes and severe weather. It ultimately brought down the Labour government, ushering in the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher. 

    Tory ‘Scum’

    “We’ve got energy shortages, we’ve got shortages in our supermarkets,” Labour’s Starmer said. “We’ve got prices going up. We’ve got taxes going up on working families and we’ve got the government taking away a thousand pounds from those that need it most.”

    Deputy Leader Angela Rayner put it more bluntly, describing the Conservatives as “scum” at an event at the Labour’s annual conference. That sparked a fresh squabble within the party just when it was aiming to demonstrate to the electorate it was united and ready to govern. 

    On Sunday, she refused to apologize for using the word, saying it was northern English working-class “street language” and that she was only referring to members of the cabinet. “I was speaking to a group of activists to say you have got to get that fire in your belly,” she said. 

    FG places 3,964 Nigerians on watch list, suspends passports - PUNCH

    SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

    BY  

    No fewer than 3,964 Nigerians are currently on the watch list of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

    The names of the affected individuals, it was gathered, have been placed with security agencies at the nation’s international airports where they will be arrested on sight.

    According to the 2020 NIS annual report suspect index, 308 persons were placed on the watch list in 2019, 166 in 2020, while 51 persons were stop-listed in two years.

    No fewer than 3, 438 passports are also being watch, while 23 are on the exemption list.

    The report states, “Suspect index reviews and maintains the list of persons whose entry into Nigeria is prohibited or on whom special instructions are in place with respect to entry and departure from Nigeria. The travel documents are the instruments used to achieve this objective through synergy with other law enforcement agencies and court of competent jurisdiction.”

    In a related development, the NIS has revoked 149, 875 stolen or lost passports and uploaded them to Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database via the Web Services for Data Management platform.

    Meanwhile, there are indications that the FG may not meet its 2021 revenue projection from NIS services.

    Findings show that there might be revenue shortfall from visa; e-PASS, ECOWAS Residence Card, the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card and other documents issued by the NIS due to the reduced number of foreign visitors and expatriates in the country following COVID-19 travel restrictions.

    Immigration sources said the number of Italians, Britons, South Africans, Chinese, Indians, and other Asians, who constitute a large percentage of expatriates in the country, had reduced on account of travel restrictions imposed by their respective countries.

    The erstwhile Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede had said the service recorded a 40 per cent revenue shortfall in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Figures from the NIS showed that in 2018, the immigration service generated N20.3bn from CERPAC; N40.7bn in 2019, and N16.7bn in 2020.

    Kebbi Airport Remains Open As State Government Offsets N33m Debt - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

    SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

    By Shola Adekola - Lagos

    The Sir Ahmadu Bello International Airport in Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital, will no longer be shut down to flight operations midnight today over debts as the state has now reached out to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

    The state Commissioner for Works and Housing, Abubakar Chika Ladan dropped this hint on Monday night. 

    The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had concluded plans to close down the Kebbi state-owned airport over debts owed the organisation on Monday midnight. 

    The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) was also prepared to issue a Notice To Airmen (Notam) to all airlines warning them against flying into the airport as from midnight Monday when FAAN was expected to have withdrawn its services at the airport. 

    FAAN was to begin a gradual withdrawal of its personnel beginning with all its fire service and security personnel from the airport. 

    Ladan, who spoke to some journalists on the issue declared; “I can confidently inform you that the airport will not be shut as the state government has been in talks with FAAN, we have resolved all the grey areas and arrived at an amicable resolution going forward.”

    He added that there was misinformation regarding the actual amount of debt profile but both parties were able to reach an agreement regarding our payments”. 

    Ladan assured airlines that they should make arrangements to fly passengers desiring to visit the state into the airport as there are no hindrances to their operations.
    https://tribuneonlineng.com/ke...


    Covid-19 - Nigeria Suspends Passports of 2,000 Travellers - PREMIUM TIMES

    SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

    By Nike Adebowale

    "We have gone ahead to ensure that that their passports are suspended so for every action there are consequences,"

    The Nigerian government has suspended the passports of 2,000 travellers who failed to undergo the mandatory arrival quarantine and other protocols after returning into the country.

    The National Incident Manager (NIM) of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), Mukhtar Muhammad, disclosed this at the committee's briefing on Monday.

    Mr Muhammad said the government had insisted that passengers who arrive into the country, especially from high risk countries, must quarantine in a facility provided by the government.

    He said the passports of those who failed to follow the protocol have been suspended for one year, meaning they cannot legally travel out of Nigeria within that period.

    "We have included the provision of quarantine for passengers who arrived from these high risk countries and people who evade these protocols have been penalised by publishing their names as well as by suspending their passports for one year.

    "And we have gone ahead to ensure that their passports are suspended. So, for every action there are consequences," he said.

    Protocols

    The PSC on May 1 issued a Travel Advisory for passengers arriving in Nigeria from Brazil, India and Turkey.

    These precautionary measures were described as a necessary step to mitigate the risk of importation of COVID-19 variants of concern and break the chain of transmission to the population, according to the chairman of the PSC, Boss Mustapha.

    Under the measures, passengers arriving from/or that have visited any of the three countries within 14 days prior to their visit to Nigeria, were required to follow mandatory arrival quarantine and testing protocols in designated facilities.

    But many passengers failed to observe the compulsory isolation or present themselves for the PCR repeat test on day seven, the government said.

    The PSC had previously published the names and passport numbers of defaulters.

    COVID-19: FG probes airport officials for aiding protocol breach - VANGUARD

    SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

    By Omeiza Ajayi

    THE Federal  Government, yesterday, vowed to probe some airport officials who continue to extort inbound international travelers with a view to helping them evade quarantine in the wake of the resurgence of COVID-19.

    Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF and Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee PSC on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha disclosed this during briefing of the committee.

    He said: “The PSC has taken note of the challenges raised by travelers that visit the National International Travel Portal in compliance with travel protocols. It has similarly noted with dismay, fraudulent activities perpetuated at our international airports by on-duty staff, who extort money out of those who also wish to evade quarantine requirement. The authorities are conducting necessary investigation in to various reports received.

    “The PSC has observed that caution is needed rather than over-confidence and that there is a decline of suspicion index among doctors.

    “To slide into complacency can be very fatal, hence the need for serious caution and adherence to the non-pharmaceutical intervention measures, vaccination and protocols on self-isolation. The coronavirus is still very much around us and it is virulent and deadly.”

    The SGF added that notable progress is still being made in the area of vaccine, explaining that over 3.5 million doses of Pfizer is being expected from the United States Government this month while about four million doses of Astrazeneca is being expected early next month.

    “Nigeria will be receiving over 1m doses of J&J shipments on a monthly basis. The PSC is committed to access enough vaccines for the 70 per cent eligible persons in the country in record time”, he added.

    Mustapha also announced Dr Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa as the newly-appointed Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, who will be taking over from Dr. Chikwe Iheakwazu from 1st November, 2021.

    On his part, Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib said as of September 26 about 4,734,769 eligible people in Nigeria have received their first dose of COVID vaccine.

    He said: “This comprises  3,040,000 with first dose AstraZeneca and 1,694,769 with the first dose of Moderna. This represents 4.2% of the 111,776,503 eligible populations who are targeted to receive full doses of the vaccines for Nigeria to reach herd immunity. Out of the total vaccinated, 1,892,092 eligible persons have received their second dose of which 1,825,739 have been fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca while 66,353 eligible persons have been fully vaccinated with Moderna.”

    On the issue of vaccine card racketeering, Dr Shuaib said: “Buying and selling of COVID-19 vaccines and cards is a criminal offence in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria has provided these vaccines free of charge to all eligible persons. The officer in charge of every designated health facility would be held accountable for every vaccination card and QR code. These must match the quantities of vaccines and devices provided.”

    Ease of migration sees Nigerian nurses in UK hit 5yr high - BUSINESSDAY

    SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

    The number of Nigeria-trained nurses on the register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of the United Kingdom (UK) rose by 54.4 percent to 4,310 in March 2021, the highest in five years, compared with 2,792 in March 2017.

    The rise in the number of Nigerian nurses migrating to the UK can be attributed to the cheap and easy entry migration requirements of the country facing shortage of nurses.

    This growing migration of nurses who serve as a critical function in the healthcare system could further lead to negative consequences for Nigeria’s struggling health sector that do not have enough nurses to cater for its expanding population.

    Jennifer Oyelade, director of Transquisite Consulting, a UK and Nigerian registered Recruitment and Training Consultancy, says Nigeria will have fewer nurses available to take care of its citizens in the health sector because the country is losing its talented nurses to an economy that is willing to pay more and give them a better living quality.

    “The truth is Nigerians are being trained in Nigeria and by the time they do their conversion to be a registered nurse in the UK, they will be paid more and their quality of life will be better,” Oyelade states.

    The primary role of nurses makes them the most important part of the healthcare system, as they are always with the patient at every stage of the care process, tending to them, counselling the ill and improving healthcare processes.

    In 2020, Nigeria had 1.2 nurses and midwives and 0.4 physicians for every 1,000 inhabitants, slightly higher than the sub-Saharan African average but worse than many of its regional peers such as Ghana, Namibia, and Zambia, as well as structural and aspirational peer countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

    Nursing shortages lead to errors, higher morbidity and mortality rates. According to the World Bank, Nigeria has the highest under-five mortality rate in the world with 117 deaths per 1,000 live births.

    “The health sector will be in shambles because many quack nurses will enter the profession. Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system. They are the ones that take care of patients. So, when they are now less it will affect the system,” Okechukwu Ekemezie, a medical doctor, says.

    UK has always faced a severe shortage of healthcare workers, especially in its National Healthcare System (NHS) due to an aging population, and increasing cases of chronic and lifestyle diseases. But the COVID-19 pandemic heightened its shortages.

    Read Also: Nigerian nurses fleeing to UK hit 4yr high

    NHS vacancy statistics for UK show that, as of June 2021 there were 38,952 registered nurse vacancies across the health service. This figure reflects a 12 percent increase from 34,678 in March 2021, and a rise of 3 percent from June 2020 (37,760).

    Also, data from The King’s Fund state that the UK has a lower number of doctors and nurses compared with other European countries. In the UK, there is one doctor for every 356 people. In contrast, in other similarly developed countries, there is one doctor for every 277 people.

    These shortages have been on the front burner for the UK’s successive governments, making the country a net importer of healthcare professionals.

    In 2020, the new Conservative government pledged to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 over the next five years, and offered additional cost of living support of £5,000.

    Last year, the UK announced a Health and Care Visa policy. This visa policy aims to make it cheaper, quicker and easier for healthcare professionals to come go to the UK.

    “I am not surprised because this year alone, about 6,000 nurses and 355 doctors have left the country in the last 100 days. The recruitment requirements are lower for nurses. If you don’t put value in something, people will leave,” Steve Ahubelem, a medical officer at the General Hospital – Ibeju-Lekki, states.

    In a recent tweet, @jajaPhD, a Nigerian self-funded MSc student of nursing, decided to take up a Msc course as it would guarantee him higher chances of getting a job as a nurse.

    “My friend advised me to take a detour – study nursing so that I’m guaranteed a job, work for a few years to repay my loan, and then return to study whatever I really wanted when the stakes are not so high. It was the single most valuable advice I received in 2018,” he tweeted.

    “The UK government is looking for nurses to take care of the influx of patients that they have,” Oyelade says.

    Nigeria’s intellectual capability in its medical profession has projected the country into the limelight. Outstanding individuals such as Oluyinka Olutoye, Joseph Ladapo, Njideka Udochi, Onyema Ogbuagu, etc, have worked hard to distinguish themselves and have earned the respect of their contemporaries in countries such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Europe, etc.

    In 2016, Olutoye, a renowned fetal and paediatric Nigeria born surgeon successfully operated on a baby-in-utero. For this ground-breaking feat, he was appointed surgeon-in-chief at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the US. He now leads one of the largest children’s hospital surgery departments in the world.

    Udochi is a graduate of medicine from the University of Nigeria with over 33 years’ experience. The Nigerian-born physician became the very first black female to emerge Family Physician of the Year in Maryland, United States. This award was bestowed on her by the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians (MDAFP) in 2021.

    Another exceptional medical practitioner is Ogbuagu. He is an associate professor of medicine in the clinician-educator track and director of the HIV clinical trials programme of the Yale AIDS Programme, Section of Infectious Diseases of the Yale School of Medicine. He was recently recognised as one of the researchers instrumental in the creation of the Pfizer vaccine for the infamous COVID-19 virus.

    On Wednesday, Florida Governor’s Ron DeSantis appointed Ladapo as Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health. He is a physician and health policy researcher whose primary research interests include clinical trial interventions and reducing the population burden of cardiovascular disease.

    China Unveils High-Speed Drone That Can Fly for Almost 24 Hours - REUTERS

    SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

    (Bloomberg) -- A high-altitude, long-endurance drone that can fly for around 20 hours and reach top speeds of 700 kilometers an hour (435 miles an hour) was one of the flying gadgets unveiled at Airshow China 2021 in the southern city of Zhuhai on Tuesday.

    Developed by Aerospace CH UAV Co., the CH-6 drone is aimed at high-end arms use while its long flying range means it could be used for a variety of military and civilian missions.

    It can also carry out anti-submarine missions, maritime patrols, early warning missions and close-range air support, China’s Global Times said.

    CH UAV also showcased another series of its CH drones, the CH-817 mini-attack drone, which is much smaller and which can be carried by individual soldiers or released from a bigger drone. That one weighs about 800 grams and has a flying time of about 15 minutes.

    “We can call it a flying grenade,” the company’s chief engineer and designer of the CH drone series, Shi Wen, was quoted as saying.

    There wasn’t any immediate indication as to which governments the company might try to sell either unmanned aerial vehicle.

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