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UAE ‘bars’ airlines from flying Nigerians to Dubai as row deepens

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The diplomatic crisis between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken a new dimension as the Middle East country has reportedly barred other airlines from conveying Nigerian passengers to the country.

Ever since the row with Emirates Airline started nine months ago, Nigerians heading for Dubai have used other airlines.

Among these airlines are Egypt Air, Air France, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, Rwanda Air, Etihad.

But on Monday, many Nigerian passengers who boarded Ethiopian Airlines heading for Dubai were sent off the plane.

This happened hours after the restrictions imposed on Emirates by the Federal Government took effect.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had withdrawn the winter schedule earlier approved for Emirates to operate 21 weekly flights to Nigeria.

The government instead gave Emirates one weekly slot in Abuja, the nation’s capital, in a tit-for-tat measure after the Sharjah Airport Authorities reportedly denied Air Peace the three slots it requested.

Following the development, Emirates had suspended all its flights to Nigeria pending the resolution of the issues between Nigeria and the UAE.

But things worsened after Dubai-bound passengers using other airlines were reportedly barred.

A source said the de-boarding of Nigerian passengers was on the order of the UAE authorities.

“UAE says no entry for Nigerian passengers from any airline. Ethiopian just offloaded all passengers heading to Dubai. We are voiding Dubai bound tickets,” the source told our correspondent.

There has been no official communication from the UAE authorities on the latest development.

Many Nigerian passengers were stranded over the Emirates logjam.

A passenger, who was to travel via an Emirates flight on Monday, had to explore an alternative airline, paying over N500,000 to travel via Lufthansa.

Among those stranded are businessmen, students and others said to be going for medical reasons.

“I had to book another flight on Lufthansa travelling through Brazil just to connect Dubai because the various restrictions across the world have made travel very difficult for everybody because you have to travel via a destination, not on the red list.”

“But I must be in Dubai by all means and that has cost me an extra N500,000. How many people can afford this,” a student who preferred anonymity, said.

Stakeholders hail Nigeria’s stance

The Vice-President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Abuja Zone, Ambassador Adeshola Kayode, lamented that millions of naira have been lost and businesses affected as a result of the current imbroglio.

“We have lost millions, clients have started requesting refunds and some of these tickets are not refundable and for those that have refunds, it will take time to process,” he said.

He however said the federal government’s decision was a welcome development to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

A former president of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Engr. Isaac Balami, said Emirates and other foreign airlines should begin to respect Nigeria.

“They should begin to take us seriously. When we didn’t fly into the country, we did not die. They must begin to respect Africa, most importantly Nigeria.

“I commend the minister and the DG for this bold step and I pray that we will continue in that trajectory, not just Emirates but any other person who will not respect and honour Nigeria.

“When Emirates solves the problem and makes Air Peace happy, we will also make them happy.”

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Google set to invest $9.5bn in US

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Google has announced plans to invest $9.5bn in its US offices and data centers around the country in 2022, up from more than the $7bn it spent in 2021.

According to CNN, the big bet on office space was coming at a point Google was embracing a hybrid work model. The Alphabet-owned company has called for many of its employees to work in an office three days a week after two years of being fully remote.

The Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet and Google, Sundar Pichai, said, “It might seem counterintuitive to step up our investment in physical offices even as we embrace more flexibility in how we work.

“Yet we believe it’s more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that doing so will make for better products, a greater quality of life for our employees, and stronger communities.”
Google said it would open an office in Atlanta this year and continue to develop and expand office space in Austin and New York. It added that it planned to continue investing in data centers in Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, among other states.

As part of the announcement, Google said it expected to create at least 12,000 new full-time jobs at the company this year.

Google and other tech companies were among the first businesses to shift to remote work when the pandemic hit in early 2020. But that shift always appeared to be temporary. Like others in Silicon Valley, Google had previously invested billions in expansive campuses and lavish office benefits for workers.

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European markets pull back amid doubts over latest Russian pledges over Ukraine

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European stocks retreated on Wednesday following the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine, aimed at finding a solution to the conflict.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.8% in early trade, with autos shedding 1.9% to lead losses, while oil and gas stocks gained 1.7%.

In terms of individual share price movement, Finland’s Nokian Tyres fell 6.6%, while Sweden’s Lundin Energy added 4.7%.

Investor sentiment was boosted on Tuesday following negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Turkey, at which Russia’s deputy defense minister claimed Moscow had decided to “drastically” cut back its military activity near Ukraine’s capital.

Alexander Fomin, who spoke following the talks in Istanbul, said Russia would slow its military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv in order for peace talks to progress. Russia previously claimed that it would reduce military operations in other parts of Ukraine but then continued its advance.

Growing hope for a cease-fire appeared to boost investor sentiment Tuesday, as Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 200 points, or 0.6%. S&P 500 futures also climbed 0.6%, while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.7%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which spiked on the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fell more than 4% to $100 per barrel.

Doubts have set in over the pledge, however, and while the Russian military has begun moving some of its troops in Ukraine away from areas around Kyiv to positions elsewhere in Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby warned the troop movements do not amount to a retreat.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade as investors watch for developments surrounding the war in Ukraine. Stateside, traders are keeping tabs on a slew of key economic reports, while also monitoring the Federal Reserve’s planned interest rate hikes.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday showed 11.3 million job openings, higher than the 11.1 million expected. The ADP will also release its private payrolls data ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report, on Friday.

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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