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Abuja Airport Runway, Terminal Building Ready Today —FAAN

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airport Nigeria
  • Abuja Airport Runway, Terminal Building Ready Today

The runway and terminal building of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja will be ready today (Monday), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has said.

According to FAAN, the airport will be ready two days before the April 19 scheduled date announced by the Federal Government for the reopening of the terminal to air traffic.

The Abuja airport was shut on March 8 for six weeks in order to allow Julius Berger to reconstruct its runway and taxiways. During the period of its closure, the contractor carried out rehabilitation work on its terminals.

The Managing Director, FAAN, Mr. Saleh Dunoma, was quoted in a statement by the agency’s consultant on Sunday, as saying “We will be ready by Monday, April 17, but we are leaving the remaining two days for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority because it has to certify the airport that what we have done is in accordance with its standards.

“If they (NCAA’s officials) do that, we will bring in the traffic. But if they do not, we have the opportunity of making corrections within the two days we have saved.”

On the reopening of the runway on April 19, Dunoma said, “No doubt about that, we will open it as scheduled. Just as I have said, we have been working with the NCAA throughout the period; they have been making corrections. But for formality, we need to check and make sure that all the necessary corrections meet the requirements of the civil aviation authority.”

He said that the terminal building too would be ready by today (Monday), adding that all faulty items and services at the airport were being fixed.

“We are improving on all the services there and repairing all the items that are bad. It (terminal) will be ready by Monday (April 17). Most of the items there have been completed; we are just trying to clean up,” Dunoma said.

Giving a breakdown of the completed work on the facility, the FAAN boss said, “All the critical items of work are 100 per cent except maybe two items, which of course are the markings and the cleaning. Asphalt work is 100 per cent; markings have reached almost 70 per cent; the airfield lighting system has reached 80 per cent.

“There is additional work, which has nothing to do with this repair but we are seizing the opportunity of the closure of the airport to do. This has to do with the APEX — (Airport Excellence in Safety) related items. We are now levelling all the airfield lightings’ locations, all the installations and flash with the ground surface. In case of any skidding, there will not be concrete projection above the ground surface.”

Dunoma said the authority had not tampered with the calibration of navigational aids but only worked on the runway.

He added, “What we tampered with are the airfield lightings, and the airfield lightings are being returned to the same position. The runway does not need calibration. All we need to check is to make sure there is 100 per cent illumination. Calibration is done periodically. When the time comes for calibration, the appropriate authority will calibrate the Instrument Landing System.”

Meanwhile, the Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, has said that the runway of the airport is 99 per cent complete.

Usman, in the statement, disclosed this after the agency had carried out an audit on the runway, saying “Today, the NCAA along with the airport owner, FAAN, conducted an inspection. We were able to see that the job has been done well up to at least 99 per cent completion. We believe the remaining work will be completed on or before the official opening date.”

He said the non-safety critical components that should be corrected, which were observed by the NCAA at the runway, would not stop the reopening of the airport.

Usman said, “The findings have been communicated to the owner of the airport, FAAN. We are expecting a corrective action plan that will come with timelines that will address those issues. But as I mentioned earlier, those items that we found are not safety critical and cannot affect the opening. The job has been well done. The technology employed is the latest and we believe Nigerians will be happy.”

An official of Julius Berger, who was part of the inspection, Dr. Lars Richter, said the newly completed runway would last for 10 years.

“The runway is of the highest quality. We can say for the next 10 years, it will remain there, of course, with good maintenance,” he said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

2023 Voter’s Registration Will Be Online, Biometric To Be Captured Physically- INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday unfolded plans to allow online filing during the continuous voter registration for the 2023 general election.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, said only the biometric would be captured physically by INEC officials.

But the commission suffered another setback yesterday as arsonists torched its office in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.

Okoye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on expanding voter access to polling units in Kano yesterday, said: “On June 28, the voter registration exercise for those above 18 years and those who have not registered before will commence with two new innovations. Those versatile with computer can register online and only visit a registration centre to capture their biometrics.”

Okoye stated that the online registration would be introduced to reduce crowd at registration centres in line with COVID-19 protocols.

The commission called on citizens, especially those willing to contest elections, whose voter cards have been defaced, whose names were wrongly spelt or addresses and locations wrongly captured to present themselves for authentication or correction.

INEC also called for valid data of all those with disabilities or physical challenges to be captured during the continuous registration for proper projections ahead of the 2023 general election.

INEC also warned political parties and politicians who have started campaigning to desist from doing so.

Okoye said: “There is a ban on political campaigns which has not been lifted yet. And I find it necessary to draw your attention for you to understand the legal implication of violating this ban.

“I have listened to comments on radio stations, which are capable of heating the polity. Media organisations should avoid providing platforms for such comments. The media should try to curtail such tensions.

“Political parties, politicians and their supporters should understand there is a legal framework for campaigns and it has not commenced yet.”

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No Plans To Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Nigeria Or Any Part Of Africa- U.S. Replies Buhari

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AFRICOM HQ

The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.

The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.

The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.

Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.

Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.

Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.

“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.

“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”

However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.

According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.

In an emailed response to The PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.

This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.

“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms. Cindi King, said.

King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.

She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.

“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”

It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador

Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.

He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.

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China Urges U.N. States Not to Attend Xinjiang Event Next Week

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China has urged United Nations member states not to attend an event planned next week by Germany, the United States and Britain on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, according to a note seen by Reuters on Friday.

“It is a politically-motivated event,” China’s U.N. mission wrote in the note, dated Thursday. “We request your mission NOT to participate in this anti-China event.”

China charged that the organizers of the event, which also include several other European states along with Australia and Canada, use “human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in China’s internal affairs like Xinjiang, to create division and turbulence and disrupt China’s development.”

“They are obsessed with provoking confrontation with China,” the note said, adding that “the provocative event can only lead to more confrontation.”

The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ambassadors of the United States, Germany and Britain are due to address the virtual U.N. event on Wednesday, along with Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth and Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard.

The aim of the event is to “discuss how the U.N. system, member states and civil society can support and advocate for the human rights of members of ethnic Turkic communities in Xinjiang,” according to an invitation.

Western states and rights groups have accused authorities in Xinjiang of detaining and torturing Uyghurs in camps, which the United States has described as genocide. In January, Washington banned the import of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations of forced labor.

Beijing denies the accusations and describes the camps as vocational training centers to combat religious extremism.

“Beijing has been trying for years to bully governments into silence but that strategy has failed miserably, as more and states step forward to voice horror and revulsion at China’s crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims,” Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau said on Friday.

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