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Three Years After Unveiling, FG Fixes April 2022 Take Off Date For Air Nigeria

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Three years after it was unveiled, the Federal Government on Wednesday said Air Nigeria, the proposed national carrier will take off April 2022.

Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika announced the take-off date while briefing state house correspondents after the federal executive council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja.

He said the national carrier will be run by a company in which the Nigerian government will hold a five percent stake while Nigerian entrepreneurs will hold 46 percent.

He said the remaining 49 percent will be reserved for yet to be assigned strategic equity partners, including foreign investors.

Sirika said the national carrier, when operational, will create about 70,000 jobs for Nigerians.

Sirika recalled that over 400,000 Nigerians participated in choosing the name which was launched in 2018.

“Today (Wednesday) in Council civil aviation presented two memoranda. The first one is approval for the award of contract for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment, including software support and training, which will be located in Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport

“In summary, this is a software that will allow all of the activities of civil aviation regulation to be done electronically on one platform, including payments, including follow-ups on personnel licensing, the medicals, the economic regulation of airlines, safety regulation of airlines and all other businesses within the envelope of civil aviation will be monitored by this single software.

“It is called ‘the truth machine’ in the quotation in Europe because all of the truth of regulation of civilization will appear on this platform, it’s an extremely important software that the world has now come to terms with.

“The contract was given to Messrs. Arif Investment Nigeria Limited, who are representatives of Empik GmbH. This Empik are the creators of this software, one of its kind in the world, at the sum of N1,492,520,325, which will be including 7.5% VAT and a completion period of six months. So that’s the first memoranda.

“The next one also is approval of the outline business case for the establishment of the national carrier and this is the sixth time the memorandum appeared before Council. The sixth time, we got lucky to be passed by Council.

“The structure of the proposed airline; the government will be owning not more than 5%. So 5% is the maximum equity that government will take, then 46% will be owned by Nigerian entrepreneurs. So, if you add that, it’s 51%. So, it’s 51% majority shareholding by Nigerians and then 49% will be held by strategic equity partners or partners that will be sourced during the procurement phase, which is the next phase.

“This airline, if started, and within the first few years will generate about 70,000 jobs. These 70,000 jobs are higher than the total number of civil servants that we have in the country. Its importance had been well discussed so, I’ll not go back to it. You had discussed it separately also on various fora as to the need for it.

“But one important item is the AU agenda 2063, which speaks to the integration of Africa, which speaks to the cause and trade within Africa that is intra-Africa and to which also another flagship project of AU agenda 2063 called the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

“Now, the only way, the quickest way that you can integrate Africa is by air because if you want to interconnect all the 54 nations of Africa, via rail or road, or waterways, which is even impossible, the quantum of money that you need to do all of these, the time it will take to develop this infrastructure, as well as the maintenance cost, is almost prohibitive.

“It’s doable, it’s time-taking, but with aviation, within a year, once the right policy is in place, like SAATM, you can connect Africa, and then, of course, the needed integration will happen. Part of AU agenda 2063 So, these are the two memoranda that were submitted, and gladly they were passed by Council.

“The name is Nigeria Air which of course, if you remember back in time, this was subject to a national debate and 400,000 people participated, choose the name, the colour, the logo, everything and it was produced that time. It was launched also in Farnborough as far back as 2018.

“So, the business case is a public document. It will be on our website, you can download it and we can give you copies. This airline will pick up and start, by God’s grace, on or before April 2022.”

Asked if the April date is certain, he said: “Well, the best case is that the airline will pick up that period, April 2022 all things being equal. But since it’s an outline of the business we will follow the outline of the business.

“It is our hope and desire that it starts on April. It can be sacrosanct records but it’s dependent upon other factors since we are going to the market right away.”

In 2018, the federal government unveiled Nigeria Air, at the Farnborough International Public Airshow in London.

The federal government later suspended the proposed airline.

Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, had said the project was suspended due to investor apathy.

If successful, the airline will be coming almost 18 years after Africa’s largest economy shut down Nigerian Airways due to perceived corruption and maladministration.

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UK Imposes Travel Restrictions On Six African Countries As New COVID-19 Variant Emerges

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The UK government has imposed temporary travel restrictions on six African countries following the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa.

A new variant of the coronavirus, B.1.1.529, was discovered in South Africa three days ago and 59 cases have been confirmed in South Africa, Hong Kong, and Botswana.

Although the variant is yet to be detected in the UK, it has gone ahead to announce that travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini, will not be allowed into their shores from 12:00 GMT Friday (1 p.m. Nigerian time).

According to Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, “the UK Health Security Agency is investigating a new variant. More data is needed but we’re taking precautions now.”

“From noon tomorrow, November 26, six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned, and UK travellers must quarantine.”

Experts have said that the B.1.1.529 variant could be the most lethal and worrying yet. This is because of its “awful spike mutation profile”, which scientists fear could help it evade immunity. Early reports suggest it is capable of reducing vaccine efficiency to just 30 percent.

“The first indications we have of this variant are that it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and that the vaccines we currently have may be less effective,” Mr Javid said.

According to him, British scientists are “very concerned” by this variant.

“We will ask anyone arriving from these countries from 4 a.m. on Sunday to quarantine themselves in hotels,” Mr Javid said, adding that those arriving before that date will have to self-isolate and do two PCR tests on the second and eighth day of their confinement.

“And if someone has arrived from these countries in the last ten days, we will ask them to do PCR tests,” he added.

The WHO will hold a special meeting following the emergence of this new variant.

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Chidinma Sold Ataga’s Laptop To Me For N495,000 —– Computer Village Businessman

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A businessman, Mr Ifeoluwa Oluwo, has narrated how the laptop of the murdered Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Michael Ataga, was sold to him for N495,000 by Chidinma Ojukwu two days after Ataga’s body was found.

Chidinma, a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, was accused of killing Ataga.

The undergraduate and two others, Adedapo Quadri and Chioma Egbuchu, are undergoing trial before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos State.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Oluwo, the third prosecution witness, was led in evidence by the Lagos State prosecuting counsel, Mr Yusuf Sule.

Oluwo said he sells phones, laptops, and accessories at Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, and has been in the business for five years.

According to him, after seeing Chidinma on social media after the sale of the laptop, he immediately ensured that all her documents were kept handy.

The witness identified Chidinma as a customer who had purchased a phone on April 30 and also sold a laptop on June 18, at the same office.

Oluwo said, “On June 18, Chidinma sold me a MacBook Pro laptop for N495,000 after negotiations and market value comparison. In order to make a sale, you have to submit some documents and fill a form with your government identification card, driving license, international passport, voters’ card, and National Identification Number.

“You also have to fill a form which includes email, phone number, house address, and full name. It will also contain the full value of the item for that day, the name of the item, and the serial number of the item.

“This is what we do to contact a customer if there are any issues.

“I asked Chidinma to unlock the laptop and she did. So, I conducted my internal observation which included speed performance, the circle count of the battery, and general functionality.

“After that, I proceeded to ask questions, ‘Do you have a receipt for this laptop?’

“She stated that it was a gift from her boyfriend and that she had two laptops and needed to sell one to pay some bills.

“I conducted a check on a website for my market evaluation. I confirmed the value of the laptop. It was $1,000 to $1,200. The exchange rate of dollars at that time was N400 to N450 and she wanted to sell for N600,000. We were able to negotiate for N495,000, which I initiated from my UBA bank account to her Sterling bank account.”

When asked if Chidinma had produced the receipt of the laptop, Oluwo stated that she was not able to provide the receipt as she had insisted that it was a gift from her boyfriend.

“After the sale of the laptop, we saw her face on social media regarding a murder case. A few days later, the police from the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, invited my manager, Olutayo Abayomi.

“When I got to the police station, I discovered that it was in connection to the laptop we bought from Chidinma on June 18.

“We both made a statement detailing how we came about the laptop and how we made the purchase.

“We gave the police the documents of the former owner, which included a copy of her voters’ card, a copy of our form, and all receipts which already have her information regarding the laptop.

“There is no way we can detect that a phone or laptop was a stolen one,” Oluwo said.

During cross-examination, Chidinma’s counsel, Onwuka Egbu, asked if he was shown any documents, receipts, or proof of ownership to show that the laptop was not for the first defendant at Panti but the witness said he was not shown any.

Justice Adesanya adjourned the case till November 29, for the continuation of trial.

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New COVID Variant Of ‘Serious Concern’ Detected In South Africa

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A new variant of the coronavirus has been detected in South Africa.

The variant, B.1.1.529, is said to have a high number of mutations, which may be a source of concern in relation to immunity and transmissibility.

Confirming the discovery in a statement on Thursday, the NICD said 22 positive cases of the new variant have so far been detected in the country.

“The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, confirms that through collaborative efforts with private laboratories and the NGS-SA members, a new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, has been detected in South Africa,” the statement reads.

“Twenty-two positive cases of variant B.1.1.529 have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing collaborations between the NICD and private laboratories. In addition, other NGS-SA laboratories are confirming more cases as sequencing results come out.”

According to the statement, Adrian Puren, NICD acting executive director, said it is “not surprising” that a new variant has been detected in South Africa.

“Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date,” Puren said.

The institute said Joe Phaahla, the country’s health minister, confirmed that the new variant has also been detected in Botswana and in Hong Kong.

He said the variant was of “serious concern” and behind an “exponential” increase in reported cases, making it “a major threat”.

Michelle Groome, head of the division of public health surveillance and response at the NICD, also said provincial health authorities remain on high alert and are prioritizing the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples.

“This means that individuals should get vaccinated, wear masks, practice healthy hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, and gather in well-ventilated spaces. Individual compliance to preventative measures can have a great collective impact in limiting the spread of the new variant,” she added.

As of September 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had identified five COVID variants — Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Mu.

While it is not unexpected that there will be more variants of the coronavirus, prior to the detection of the B.1.1. 529, the Delta variant had been linked to a high infection rate.

The Delta COVID variant was confirmed in Nigeria in July 2021, and is currently the most dominant strain in the country.

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