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 Air Peace Begins Flight Operations to Makurdi

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Air Peace Makurdi

By Adedapo Adesanya

Air Peace Airline has announced the launch of commercial flights to Makurdi, the Benue capital.

Speaking during a brief ceremony to mark the commencement of the flights today, the chairman of the airline, Mr Allen Onyeama, noted that the commencement of flights to the capital of the Food Basket of the Nation was part of the company’s original plan to connect cities within the country.

He said the company was thrilled to be the first airliner to operate commercial flights to Makurdi as the first flight to the state by the airline company took off from Abuja and arrived Makurdi at about 9:45 a.m.

Represented by the Ground Operations Manager, Mr Adeyemi Ayodeji, the Air Peace boss said Makurdi flights would be either be from Lagos or Abuja.

“For us at Air Peace, this is a historic feat as no airline currently operates commercial flights from Lagos or Abuja into Makurdi.

“The decision to extend our wings to Makurdi was borne out of our persisting original vision to interconnect various cities across Nigeria, thereby fostering unity and promoting impactful economic relations,” he said.

“Today, as we commence flights into Makurdi from Lagos and Abuja, we are promising that this new route will be optimally serviced, and Nigerians will benefit exceedingly.

“We also pledge to work very harmoniously with all the stakeholders domiciled in the state, the aviation regulator, the airport administrator and, of course, the state government to ensure maximum success, ” he added.

He said the airline would also provide employment for Benue citizens.

In his remarks, Governor Samuel Ortom said the commencement of flights to Makurdi would boost economic activities in the state, as well as create employment for residents.

“I believe that this will ease transport challenges to the state and it will further open up the state to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

“This will also boost economic activities here in Benue State and will provide an opportunity for greater impact and participation of our people here,” Mr Ortom said.

Speaking to journalists as one of the first passengers, the Minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr George Akume, said it was a realization of a long dream.

Mr Akume commended Governor Ortom for initiating the partnership with Air Peace and facilitating its take off, admitting that several attempts were made in the past to ensure regular flights into Makurdi but were all futile.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Lagos Int’l Airport is Epicentre of Drug Trafficking in Nigeria—NDLEA

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Lagos airport

By Adedapo Adesanya

The chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr Buba Marwa, has described the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos as the epicentre of drug trafficking in Nigeria.

Mr Marwa, while speaking on Thursday, said this is based on the volume of drugs seized at the Lagos international airport since the beginning of the year.

He said, “Murtala Mohammed International Airport remains the epicentre of the spectacular seizures, including what stands today as the singular biggest seizure from an individual in 15 years, which was 26.840kg of cocaine smuggled from Brazil in January; 24.05 kg of heroin in April; 27.95 kg of cocaine in May, and 26.15kg of heroin in May.”

Mr Marwa, who was a guest at the Presidential Villa in Abuja today for the weekly briefings coordinated by Nigeria’s Presidential Media Team, stated that between January 25 and October 15, more than 2.7 million kilograms of illicit drugs have been seized by the operatives of the agency.

The NDLEA boss said the agency was working on a bill that will prescribe harsher penalties for drug traffickers in the country.

Mr Marwa said NDLEA was seeking a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of between 25 years and life sentences for anyone caught by its operatives indulging in drugs activities.

“As of October 15, the agency has recorded the following: 9, 355 arrested traffickers, including six drug barons, over 5,000 drug offences cases filed in court, over N100 billion worth of drugs and cash recovered, more than 2.7 million kilograms of assorted illicit drugs were seized in 10 months, 5,579 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated by NDLEA, a figure that gives a fair balance between our drug control and drug demand efforts,” Mr Marwa said.

The drug enforcement agency in recent months has moved to strengthen the war against drug abuse and trafficking with the addition of hundreds of newly trained narcotic assistants to the workforce of the agency.

It graduated Narcotic Assistants Course 3 of 2021, which is the largest of the cadre and the first-ever course in over 25 years.

To further signpost the agency’s efforts towards the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign aimed at the total eradication of illicit drugs and their effects in Nigeria, Mr Marwa noted that the country is prepared and determined to go after the assets of drug traffickers and barons in any part of the country.

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CopterJet to Position Nigeria’s Aviation Sector as Global Powerhouse

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CopterJet

By Dipo Olowookere

If all things go well as planned, Nigeria’s aviation sector will soon become a global powerhouse with the entry of CopterJet, a specialist service firm, into the aviation value chain.

Last Thursday, the company launched its operations in Nigeria at an event held at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, with several important persons in the sector in attendance.

The Chief Executive Officer of Copterjet International, Captain Toluwa Olorunyomi, the organisation has put in place strategies aimed to shoot the nation’s aviation industry to the top.

However, he called for strategic collaboration with stakeholders because the country has the number and strength to propel the aviation industry to the fore of global competitiveness with innovative solutions.

“At Copterjet, our vision is premised on a resolute mandate to transform the aviation industry in Nigeria and beyond.

“We have drawn a detailed roadmap with back-end strategy geared towards driving major initiatives that would herald a new era of opportunities to position Nigeria’s aviation industry as a global powerhouse.

“Our coming marks the beginning of a new dawn and also a historic event in the aviation industry,” the respected stakeholder in the sector disclosed at the unveiling ceremony.

Mr Olorunyomi, who said CopterJet was fully prepared to step into the aviation industry from the top end of the market, stated that with the right initiatives, support and collaboration with key players, the Nigerian aviation industry would drive economic prosperity and sustainability.

He emphasised that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global aviation ecosystem and its fallout on the tourism and hospitality businesses created an opportunity for stakeholders, including his company, to identify strategies and innovative solutions that would change the narratives in the business space, especially with the right partnership.

“I call on captains of industry to rise to the occasion and make Nigeria the hub of aviation in Africa. We have the number, we have the strength and so it is high time we leveraged on our strengths. We must be as competitive as possible in the industry given the necessary support,” he said.

On his part, the president of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Mr Abednego Galadima, lauded Copterjet for its commitment to taking aviation to an enviable height, noting that the company’s services would not only help airline operators but also other aviation stakeholders.

“Copterjet will provide solutions to aircraft and equipment leasing where there has been a huge gap for years. With greater cooperation in the industry, Nigeria will experience newness and that will spur a new impetus in the industry. They have come and are here for the good of all,” Mr Galadima stated.

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Back-Catering: NLC Threatens Action Against Foreign Airlines

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Nigerian Labour Congress NLC

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has alleged that some foreign airlines engage in back-catering, a situation where they bring in food from their countries instead of from Nigeria.

This claim was made by the Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter, Mrs Funmi Sessi in Lagos. She pointed out that Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines and Rwanda Air were the culpable operators involved in the alleged act.

Mrs Sessi said that preventing local suppliers from providing catering services for the airlines had reduced employment opportunities for the Nigerian populace.

“As part of building the economy and trying to boost the aviation sector following the COVID-19 pandemic, labour through NLC Lagos has discovered that foreign airlines are now in the habit of back-catering,” she said.

The NLC chairman said that some of the companies certified by the federal government to provide catering services had already retrenched some of their workers and lost percentages of their turnovers.

She listed the companies to include Newrest ASL Nigeria; Pan African Catering Services; Servair Nigeria, and LSG Sky Chefs.

“Servair Nigeria has over 200 workers; Newrest ASL over 600 workers, both in Lagos and Abuja; Servair Nigeria has already retrenched about 80 workers since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Also, Newrest ASL has retrenched 122 workers, because these airlines are not patronising them.

“Newrest ASL has lost 58 per cent of its turnover, while Servair Nigeria lost 66 per cent,” the labour union leader said.

She then read out that labour would be forced to take decisive action if the practice does not stop.

She urged stakeholders in the aviation sector, including the government, to intervene and urgently address the issue.

“Other countries do not allow this practice, so why should ours be different; this means there will be job losses for the workers,” she said.

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