Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that the flight approvals of five governors since the closure of the airports and the lockdown order by President Muhammadu Buhari to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country, were denied because they were for private and not for essential purposes.
Sirika disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday, at the daily press briefing by members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The Aviation Minister revealed that three out of the four governors are members of the All Progressives Congress APC with two of the governors from the South-east, two from South-South, while one from North-central.
“For a flight to be approved, it shows that it is diligently done. It must be essential, COVID-19 related or other essential flights like cargo that will bring in medicines or equipment or other things related to COVID-19 or our whole well-being like food.
“Please trust us and bear with us for this period but it will end soon by God’s grace,” he said.
According him, “Every single flight that we approved and will be approved will be an essential flight and 98 percent of the essential flight will be connected to COVID-19.
“A few of them, maybe 1 percent may be either repatriation, requests from the diplomatic community, which must go through foreign affairs, or repatriation due to illness of another kind which will be medical-kind and those evacuations will also need a stamp of a teaching hospital.
“However, I want to share with you a discussion I had on Twitter with someone when I said we will not be able to open our airports and airspace as a result of the extension of the lockdown for normal operations and someone said; “Kindly stop all the VIPs shuttle going on. It makes no sense to lock citizens up and allow governors to stroll in and out of Abuja. In the first instance, they carried this virus into Nigeria and now running around is not Okay.” I said to the person that I agree with him but whatever is approved or whoever is approved to fly privately, governor or no governor is on an essential flight and it is addition and 98 percent is related to COVID-19.
“There is no exception to governors. I have denied several of such flights. Including two governors from South-south, two from South-east and by the way, three of them are members of the APC and I think one is from North-central.”