Travel agencies have recorded about 50 percent drop in the sale of ticket and reservations on international routes since the outbreak of COVID-19. The President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, Bankole Bernard, told The Punch that the drop in sales rose from less than 20 percent to 50 percent in the last few days when the virus spread to more countries and the United States placed a ban on flights from about 26 European countries. According to him, Nigeria’s aviation industry is not operating in isolation; and like other countries, the effect is being felt especially by service providers. Bernard said, “Right now, the US is a no-go area; Italy and many other countries have been shut down and South Africa’s coronavirus cases are growing rapidly.” Bernard stated that according to the International Air Transport Association’s forecast, the earliest time for airlines and other services providers in the industry to begin to recover would be June. He said members of NANTA had been advised to focus on bookings and reservations within Africa to stay afloat.
The National Emergency Management Agency says 15 bodies, including a family of four, have been recovered from the scene of Sunday’s explosion which occurred at Abule Ado, Lagos. At least 60 students of Bethlehem Girls College located within the area, who sustained various degrees of injury in the incident were also taken to the Nigerian Navy Hospital in Ojo Cantonment. Acting Coordinator of NEMA in Lagos, Ibrahim Farinloye, said that more than 50 buildings, including Bethlehem Girls College and a popular hotel, were damaged in the explosion. The resulting fire later spread to the NNPC’s oil pipeline passing through the area even though the pipeline had been shut down as a precautionary measure.
The US Government says there is evidence that Nigerian security agents, including the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Army, intimidated voters, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission and even election observers during the 2019 general elections. According to the US, this fuelled the impression that the Nigerian Army worked for the success of the ruling All Progressives Congress. The US further explained that the Nigerian judiciary was still susceptible to intimidation by the executive and the legislative arms of government, adding that there was corruption in the judiciary, which made it unable to function independently. These observations are contained in the 2019 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Nigeria released by the US Department of State on Wednesday. According to the report, the judiciary has been unable to function optimally due to executive and legislative intimidation as well as corruption. It said court officials were also poorly paid thereby making them susceptible to manipulation.
Despite an agreement by the governors of the 36 states of Nigeria to reverse the Right of Way charges for telecoms facilities from the planned ₦6,000 to ₦145 per linear metre, their agencies superintending over telecommunication infrastructure have refused to comply. Local newspaper, ThisDay reported that in defence of the refusal to honour the agreement, the Lagos State Government said the ₦145 charge was suggested by the FG in 2013 for a five-year period, which expired in 2018; and could no longer be considered as tenable. Under intense pressure from the FG and telecos, governors had agreed to harmonise their charges with that of the FG after a meeting in January with Isa Pantami, the communications minister. The RoW charge on federal roads is ₦145 per linear metre, but state agencies in Lagos, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Kaduna, Osun, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Adamawa, Kebbi and Gombe refused to collect the old rates for RoW and were no longer issuing RoW licences to telcos. The chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, confirmed that the states were still charging far above the recommended rate of ₦145, a situation he said had stifled telecoms growth across the states. Adebayo said while only Lagos State charged ₦500 per linear metre, all other states were charging more.