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Akpan:  Government Should Ensure Documents Signed with UAE Are in Nigeria’s Interests

“What is in it for Nigerians? How many frequencies will be given to Air Peace and in what airport?”

Aviation Expert, Amos Akpan has said beyond being excited about the Dubai ban lift, it is important for the aviation industry to be cautious and ensure that whatever documents that are signed, is in the interest of Nigerians.

Akpan, in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday, said this is important because the United Arab Emirates always have an overall agenda.

“What is in it for Nigerians? How many frequencies will be given to Air peace and in what airport? It is important to have Nigeria’s interest in it and the aviation industry can only be cautious at this point until they see the document and when the document comes out we will know what is in it for us and be able to contribute. But the least we expect is to be consulted before this document is finalized so that the inputs representing our people will be carried along.

“Right now, we have very little to work with because whatever comments is made now is merely speculative. they are not facts on the documents that the directors and ministers are working on now. the optics are okay for Nigeria and our president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made the right move but the devil is in the details. If I were in the team, or have the ear of the minister now, I would like to use this as an opportunity to look more on the Nigerian side.

“Don’t forget, the people of UAE don’t do these things without an overall agenda in their system. Emirate airlines or Ethiad airlines are not designed as a project just because they have to come to Lagos and go back. they are designed to contribute to the GDP of the national economy of the UAE. So, we should take that into consideration when our people are going of this kind of negotiations.” he said

He also said that some of the issues of the aviation industry that have posed a challenge to the customers, is due to the fact that the industry was formed originally without prioritizing the customers.

He said “The aviation system right from time, we designed our businesses without setting the customers as priority. when setting up an airline, the schedule and operational plan should be geared towards the customer satisfaction. When you are setting up an airport, the aviation infrastructural facilities, it should be designed to meet the customer’s needs. but now, what are doing now is that we are forcing the customer into what we are doing.

“When we address that, it would be easier to build on customer satisfaction and that is very key. Also, the infrastructures, facilities that are now, are not adequate. there is also no maintenance culture.”

President Tinubu finalised an agreement with the President of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which has led to the immediate lifting of the visa ban that was placed on Nigerian travellers by the UAE on Monday, September 11.

In a statement released by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, It was also revealed that due to the agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines will immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria.

The statement read, “As negotiated between the two Heads of State, this immediate restoration of flight activity, through these two airlines and between the two countries, does not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government.

“In recognition of President Tinubu’s economic development diplomacy drive and proposals today presented by President Tinubu to his counterpart, an agreed framework has been established, which will involve several billions of US dollars worth of new investments into the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors, including defence, agriculture and others, by the investment arms of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

“Additionally, President Tinubu is pleased to have successfully negotiated a joint, new foreign exchange liquidity programme between the two Governments, which will be announced in detail in the coming weeks.”

Tinubu then commended the President of the UAE for their shared relationship and efforts to “join hands with him to fully normalize and reset to excellence, the standard of relations between the two important countries.”

In 2022, the UAE banned nationals of Nigeria and a few other African countries from entering its capital city, Dubai, when it released a notice which partly read,  “This is to inform you that we will not be posting 30 days visa applications for these nationalities effective today October 18, 2022.”

Chioma Kalu

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