- Kaduna Airport, Disaster Waiting to Happen, Say Reps
Members of the House of Representatives on Thursday condemned aviation operations at the Kaduna International Airport, thereby making a dramatic U-turn from their earlier position.
They said the airport fell short of the safety standards for both domestic and international flight operations.
The Kaduna airport is serving as a temporary alternative to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, whose runway is undergoing reconstruction.
The closure of the Abuja airport is into its third week and the repairs will last for another three weeks, according to the original work plan of the Federal Government.
Four weeks ago, the same lawmakers had passed a resolution supporting the closure of the airport and giving the nod to the Kaduna airport to serve as an alternative.
But, on Thursday, after flying into Kaduna, the lawmakers changed their stance and began condemning the airport.
“God forbid that an aircraft should drop from the skies due to our own errors. This is what we should not pray to happen. As we speak, we have aircraft flying in the air. It can happen to anybody. Safety standards are not being adhered to at the airport,” the Chairman, House Committee on Loans, Aids and Debt Management, Mr. Adeyinka Ajayi, told his colleagues.
Ajayi had moved a motion on the need for the aviation authorities to review and ensure that the Kaduna International Airport complied with operational and safety requirements as promised prior to the closure of the Abuja airport.
He cited a personal experience of witnessing aviation fuel being discharged from haulage trucks into aircraft at the airport without purifying the fuel.
Ajayi also said ramp marking rules were abused at the airport as they were “violated by unauthorised users, who go right through the ramp marks.”
He added, “Aircraft manoeuvring and parking space is inadequate to accommodate the high number of aircraft now operating in and out of the airport.
“Further disturbed that some aviation fuel marketers have been allegedly transferring Jet A-1 from bulk road tankers directly into bowers right on the tarmac and discharging same into aircraft; this poses a lot of danger to passengers and aircraft safety.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Relations, Ms. Nnenna Ukeje, stated that the lives of passengers and aircraft were exposed to danger at the Kaduna airport.
She noted that the space provided for passengers and parking for aircraft was inadequate and could easily lead to accidents.
Ukeje recalled how she spent close to two hours after landing at the airport, struggling to get her luggage and exit the environment.
“The Kaduna airport experiment has obviously failed,” she stated.
Another member, Mr. Hassan Saleh, told the House that he had been to the airport and that all he could see was total disappointment.
Saleh noted, “It is a disaster waiting to happen. Security measures at that airport have collapsed. You could see that the security personnel are overwhelmed by the crowd.
“They no longer conduct full security checks because of the huge crowd.”
Both the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, stated that the state of affairs at the airport might have vindicated the decision of most foreign airlines not to use the Kaduna airport.
They argued that considering the fact that Nigerian routes were among the most lucrative in the world, it was instructive that the airlines would opt to lose money rather than fly into Kaduna.
Gbajabiamila said, “If all the foreign airlines but one said they would not use Kaduna, was there something they knew that we did not know?
“If the airlines have chosen to lose money than fly into Kaduna, then there is a problem that we should be concerned about.”
On his part, Ogor urged the House to intervene urgently by calling on the aviation authorities to adhere to international best practices in the industry.
He stated, “When I flew into Kaduna, what I saw there for me is a construction site. It is very dangerous for our safety. Why did we rush to go to Kaduna?
“Nigerian routes are the most lucrative. For the foreign airlines to reject Kaduna means that we should do something.”
However, some lawmakers, mainly from Kaduna State, opposed the motion on the ground that it was still part of the sentiments held against the airport.
A former House Deputy Whip, Mr. Mohammed Garba-Dhatti, claimed that operations at the airport had been smooth in the last three weeks.
“There have been sentiments expressed against this airport right from the beginning. That is what is still happening. Which of the airlines has made complaints that it has any problems at the airport?” Garba-Dhatti asked.
Another member from Kaduna, Mr. Simon Arabo, supported the position of Garba-Dhatti.
“There has been no report of any accident in Kaduna. It is also very unfair for anyone to come here and describe the airport as a construction site,” he said.
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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