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The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had withdrawn the winter schedule earlier approved for Emirates to operate 21 weekly flights to Nigeria.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.”
Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police
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.
Omicron: Govts may shut down schools; 647m children yet to fully resume
THE World Bank has said that the new wave of COVID-19 pandemic that has seen a variant of the virus, Omicron, ravaging the world, may lead to governments across the globe being tempted to shut down schools again.
The World Bank has said this in a report titled: “Reversing the pandemic’s education losses”, recently released.
In the said report, the bank also said no fewer than 647 million school children are yet to fully resume for either physical or online learning.
It added that school children in developing nations are the hardest hit regarding the negative effects the pandemic has had on education globally.
“When schools around the world moved online due to COVID-19, children in developing countries suffered the most.
“Even though digital learning does not produce the same outcomes as in-person education, technology used effectively can close educational gaps and prevent learning loss.
“As the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, classrooms remain fully or partially closed for as many as 647 million schoolchildren around the world.
“Even where schools have reopened, many students continue to lag behind. It is now abundantly and painfully clear that children have learned less during the pandemic.”
According to World Bank estimates, pandemic-related school closures could drive up “learning poverty” – the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text – to around 70% in low- and middle-income countries.
This learning loss could cost an entire generation of schoolchildren $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.
“As the Omicron variant takes hold, more governments may be tempted to close schools. Without the online infrastructure in place to support learning, doing so would extend the educational losses and deny children many other benefits of daily school attendance, like the possibility to connect with classmates and develop social skills for personal growth.
“Interactions with teachers and peers are essential to develop the abilities necessary to work collaboratively. Being part of a class promotes a sense of belonging and helps build self-esteem and empathy.
“Throughout the pandemic, marginalised children have struggled the most. When classrooms around the world reopened this fall, it became clear that these children had fallen even further behind their peers.
“Before the pandemic, gender parity in education was improving. But school closures placed an estimated 10 million more girls at risk of early marriage, which practically guarantees the end of their schooling.
“Unless this regression is reversed, learning poverty and the associated human capital loss will hold economies and societies back for decades. Children must be given a chance to recover the education they have lost.
“They need access to well-designed reading materials, digital learning opportunities, and transformed education systems that help prepare them for future challenges. Well qualified teachers and effective use of technology are fundamental to this process.
“Many countries have deployed massive stimulus packages in response to the health crisis. But, as of June 2021, less than three per cent of these funds was devoted to the education and training sector.
“And most of these resources were spent in advanced economies. For many low-income countries, elevated debt-service payments crowd out essential social spending – including for education.
“The resulting weakness in investments to support education and training threatens to deepen the disparities in learning outcomes that existed prior to the pandemic.
“And while narrowing the education gap will require using resources more efficiently, the bottom line is that more resources are needed.
“For the world’s poorest countries, in particular, an acceleration in debt relief under the G20’s Common Framework, would provide fiscal space to increase support for human capital.
Investment in education must include funding for educational technology, taking into account what has worked well in different contexts around the world,” the report said.
The Bank called for improved investment in infrastructure to move education to the digital level and commended countries such as Uruguay and India for making giant strides in that direction.
“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children.
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank Group are working together to ensure that all education systems use technology effectively to close gaps and help reverse learning losses.
“Embedding the use of technology within an overall strategy for ending learning poverty can help improve foundational skills, increase instructional time, and make the most efficient use of resources.
“This is particularly critical in low-income countries, where technology can provide teachers with the support they need quickly.
“Digital access can serve as a great equalizer. Resources must be invested wisely, taking into account countries’ electricity infrastructure, internet connectivity, digitally enabled devices for the most disadvantaged students, and data-management and implementation capacity.
“Without a carefully considered process to increase the use of technology, good intentions and well-designed policies will fail to achieve the recovery and acceleration of learning that developing countries need.
Access to quality education was uneven before the pandemic, and now it is even more so.
“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children,” the report added
Police nabs notorious bandit, Maiyammata during kidnap attempt
Police Tactical Operatives in Zamfara arrested a notorious bandit popularly known as Maiyammata on Wednesday.
The wanted criminal, who hails from Mayasa village, was apprehended within Zurmi Local Government Area during a patrol.
Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkanah, said he was arrested while trying to kidnap passengers at Koliya.
Maiyammata, formerly of the Bello Turji gang, is now believed to be working for another wanted kingpin, Kachalla Sani-Black.
Sani-Black operates along Zurmi, Shinkafi and Birnin Magaji Local Government Areas.
“One AK-47 rifle, double magazines with three rounds of live ammunition and one Boxer motorcycle was recovered from him”, the CP told newsmen.
Elkanah added that efforts are on to catch Maiyammata’s partners before charges will be filed in court.
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