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FG to Start Evacuating Stranded Nigerians in Ukraine on Wednesday

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Nigeria is said to begin the evacuation of Nigerians in Ukraine from Wednesday, 2nd March. This update is coming from the Speaker of The House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila in a statement released on Monday, 28th February.

Gbajabiamila disclosed this in a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama at his office in Abuja. On matters arising, the plight of Nigerians caught in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine were discussed and The Speaker disclosed that efforts are on the way to begin the evacuation of Nigerians in Ukraine.

The Speaker disclosed that the evacuation was supposed to have begun on Monday, 1st March but was rescheduled to give room for the ministry, the House and the Nigerian foreign missions in Ukraine, Poland and Russia to complete the civilities of moving Nigerians from to safe borders around neighbouring countries.

Gbajabiamila, also pointed out that Nigeria’s response to emergencies needs to be improved with response mechanisms, including funds, aeroplanes and other equipment that positions the country ready for emergencies to life-threatening situations such as the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and how they affected Nigerians in the affected countries.

“We must be in a state of readiness at all times. We should have our own planes and necessary funding to respond quickly to such emergencies,” Gbajabiamila stated. He also revealed that the National Assembly is preparing legislation to address such emergencies.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has listed Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Russia, as countries to be used as exit points. Onyeama pointed out that there were about 5,600 Nigerian students in Ukraine, while also acknowledging that there may be some non-students, some of whom might not be legally documented.

Onyeama finally dismissed reports claiming that Africans – particularly Nigerians – were not allowed to leave Ukraine or granted access into the neighbouring countries.

“Where we are now is the point of ascertaining the exact number we are dealing with and to agree on the location for the evaluation. We are thinking about Bucharest; but all of this is being sorted out and we are constantly working to ensure that everything goes on very smoothly,” Onyeama said.

“80percent to 90percent of countries and people did not believe that Russia would indeed invade Ukraine. I was in touch with our ambassador early enough and he assured us that there was no need for evacuation. The students even said there was no problem at all. Also, the Ukrainian government did not want people to leave, and especially because most of our people are students, who will not be able to go back to Ukraine again, should they leave,” Onyeama further stated.

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NCAA Alerts Airport Operators over Hazardous Weather, Calls For More Caution

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has called for more caution from pilots, airlines and airport operators, especially with regard to the hazardous weather prompted by the rainy season.

The Directorate of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards revealed this in an advisory document signed by the Director-General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu.

Investors King recalls that NIMET had earlier predicted early March to be the start of the rainy season in the southern states, while April/May and June 2022 will be the start of the rainy season in the central and northern portions of Nigeria.

“Flight crews/operators and ATCs shall ensure strict adherence to aerodrome operating minima.

“Pilots shall exercise maximum restraint whenever adverse weather is observed or forecast by NIMET.

“Pilots /flight crew members shall obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET aerodrome meteorological stations prior to flight operations”, the advisory noted.

The agency asked all parties to follow safety laws to the letter since infractions would be taken seriously, while travellers were urged to be patient and understanding, as their safety is more paramount.

Prior to this, Investors King earlier reported the projections of a fresh fuel crisis, following the revelation of a shortage in supply to the Nigerian Aviation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC).

Investors King gathered that the product costs N598 per litre in Lagos, N642 in Kano, N640 in Kaduna, N627 in Abuja, N635 in Enugu and Anambra, and N628 in Port Harcourt as at Monday.

Also, airlines have already begun delaying flights and raising rates around the country as a result of the shortage.

Air Peace, Dana, and United Nigeria Airlines’ economy one-way fares from Lagos to Abuja, Owerri, Port Harcourt, and Asaba have climbed to between N55,000 and N70,000.

Air Peace, Azman, and Max Air fares from Lagos to Abuja, Kano, and Kaduna have increased from N50,000 to almost N65,000.

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Nigeria’s Airline Operators Suspend Strike

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Airline operators in Africa’s largest economy Nigeria have suspended plans to embark on strike starting Monday, 9 May 2022 over the high cost of aviation fuel that is eroding their profitability.

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) “acceded to requests to withdraw the action” until the union could hold a fresh round of talks with the government, the association disclosed in a statement issued on Sunday.

“We have also reached the decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days,” it said.

Local airlines have struggled to sustain operations and stay afloat since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted global commodity prices and bolstered energy prices to a record-high.

According to the carriers, jet fuel has more than tripled to N700 or $1.68 per litre in the last four months, weighing on their profitability.

The AON statement reads: ‘ “We have also reached this decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to their various destinations for the time being during the period of discussions with relevant authorities.

“In view of the above and in the interest of national economy and security considerations, AON hereby wishes to notify the general public that the earlier announced shutdown of operations on May 9, 2022, is hereby suspended in good faith  pending the outcome of hopefully fruitful engagement with government.”

The statement was signed by President, Dr Abdulmunaf Yunusa – Sarina; Executive Director, Max Air, Alhaji Shehu Wada;   Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Dr Obiora Okonkwo   Chief Executive Officer, Arik Air; Capt. Roy Ilegbodu;  Chief Executive Officer, Aero Contractors, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood;   Managing Director,  Azman Air, Alhaji Faisal Abdulmunaf and   Chairman, Air Peace, Chief. Allen Onyema.

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FG To Launch Online Tracking and Monitoring System For Passport Application

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The Federal Government plans to launch an online tracking and monitoring of passport application by May 2022.

This was disclosed by Rauf Aregbesola, the Minister of Interior at the opening of a two-day workshop for Passport Control Officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service held in Abuja on Tuesday.

Minsiter Rauf Aregbesola revealed that the Federal Government had concluded plans to launch a system that would lead to minimal interaction between passport applicants and immigration officers.

He said apart from the National Identity Number verification and linking, there should be no other major reason for the delay in issuing passports.

“Not later than a month from today, applicants will be able to track their application online to know precisely what stage is your application. You will not have the hassle of people coming. Just go online with your reference number to check and it will state whether you are having a NIN problem.

“It will tell you the status of your application. It will tell you whether your passport is ready and you can pick it. This will be a month from now by the Grace of God,” he added.

He said the waiting time for fresh passports should not be more than six weeks while for passport renewal, it should not exceed three weeks.

The minister added, “We have adopted a maximum processing period of six weeks. It can be less but it should not be more. If it is more, let it be rare, let it be caused by an external factor, not you. To obtain fresh passports, it should be a maximum of three weeks. It can be less for the renewal.”

Aregbesola warned immigration officers against sharp practices even as he advised them to treat passport applicants as customers. He also assured that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the full deployment of technology and before the end of the year, drastic changes would be made.

“Very soon, you will not see any passport applicants. Very soon there will be no files. Technology has provided so much succour for whoever wants to be efficient. That will be before the end of this year. Passport processing will be absolutely digitised. As it is impossible to see the air, it will be impossible for anybody to even know which passport is going where. It will just be in the system.

“We will get to a stage where no passport applicant will meet any immigration officer in the process of processing passports and there will be no manual documentation of that process,” the minister added.

Speaking on the theme ‘Effective and Efficient Service Delivery: An Imperative for Maximising the Gains of Passport Reforms Towards a Seamless Passport Issuance’, the Assistant-Comptroller-General in Charge of Passports and Other Travels Directorates, NIS, Modupe Anyalechi, said the primary purpose of the function was to bring passport officers to speed on the ongoing passport reforms.

She said the aim was to make the process of passport issuance seamless without compromising the integrity of the travel document.

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