President Muhammadu Buhari has met with Ethiopian Airlines Board Chairman, Girma Wake, during which they exchanged views on the operationalization of Nigeria Air.
In a release issued on Monday by presidential spokesperson, Mallam Garba, President Buhari told the Ethiopian Airlines Board Chairman that it was a ‘weighty decision’ by the Nigerian government to re-launch a national carrier, expressing confidence that ‘‘things will be alright.’’
Wake had at the meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, canvassed for a resolution of the legal obstacle halting Nigeria Air, which Ethiopian Airlines has 49% stake, from commencing operations.
He also requested the repatriation of the airline funds trapped in the country over foreign exchange challenges.
Wake, who met with President Buhari on the margins of the 36th AU Summit, said the airline has been treated very well in Nigeria since it started operations 60 years ago in the country.
‘‘Nigeria is not just a market but a hub for aviation in Africa. Nigeria is a special country and nobody travels more around the globe than Nigerians,’’ he said.
The aviation chief, who was accompanied on the visit by Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Mesfin Tasswe and Group Vice President Strategic Planning and Alliances, Daniel Abebe, hinted that the airline had plans to expand operations in the country, with additional daily flight services to Lagos from Addis Ababa, as well as Abuja-Addis Ababa.
He said the airline and its partners are ready to commence operations on Nigeria Air as soon as all the court matters are resolved.
In another development, Nigeria has been chosen by the Heads of State and Government of the Sahel Region Climate Commission (SRCC) to host the Secretariat of the Sahel Climate Fund.
A communiqué issued at the end of the second conference of Heads of State and Government of SRCC, held on the margins of 36th AU Summit, also approved the appointment of Issifi Boureim of Niger Republic as the Executive Secretary of the Commission.
Boureim, until his appointment, was the Coordinator of the Transitory Operational Framework of the Commission.
His appointment is for a non-renewable period of three years, without the possibility of candidacy for future terms of office.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had declared Nigeria’s interest to host the headquarters of the Sahel Climate Fund and readiness to provide all necessary amenities.
The “Sahel Climate Fund” is the financial body of the Sahel Region Climate Commission (SRCC).
The body is one of the three climate Commissions for Africa created in Marrakech, Morocco in 2016 at the Summit of African Heads of State and Government, organised at the initiative of King of Morocco, on the sidelines of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Among other decisions by leaders of member countries during the mini-summit in Addis Ababa include the adoption of the methods of contributions from the States for the financing of the operations of the Executive Secretariat and the Sahel Climate Fund as well as for the participation in the 1st recapitalization of the said Fund.
A panel of Heads of State comprising President Buhari, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, President Alassane Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire and General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno of Chad was established to support the work of the President of the Commission.
The communique also named eminent personalities as Ambassadors for advocacy and the mobilization of resources for the financing of climate related programmes and actions in the region.
The Ambassadors are Issoufou Mahamadou, former President of the Republic of Niger and first president of the Commission, Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Tidjane Thiam, Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki, MO Ibrahim, Aliko Dangote, Ibrahima Thiaw, Paul Kammogne Fokam and Mossadeck Bally.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja