House Asks Buhari to Patronise Domestic Airlines in Evacuating Stranded Nigerians

0

* Approves president’s request for conversion of N850bn loan

Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Ministries of Foreign and Aviation; Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) and Presidential Task Force on COVID–19 to stop patronising foreign airlines in evacuating stranded Nigerians abroad.

The House has also approved the request by President Buhari to source for N850 billion from domestic capital market to finance projects and programmes in the 2020 budget.

The House also mandated its Committee on Aviation to investigate the reasons for patronising foreign airlines instead of competent local airlines to evacuate Nigerians stranded in foreign countries.

The decision of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion on the need to stop the use of foreign airlines in evacuating Nigerians stranded abroad, which was moved by Hon. Mohammed Bello.

The lawmakers said the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, and the Presidential Task Force on COVID–19 have engaged foreign airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways and Emirates to evacuate Nigerians stranded in Dubai, London and America due to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.

The lawmaker added that Air Peace and Max Air have three Boeing 777, while Azman Air recently acquired Airbus A340-600 series which can be deployed for such flight operations.

Bello recalled that Air Peace handled the evacuation of Nigerians from South African during the xenophobic attacks in 2019 free of charge and Max Air has been participating in uplifting of pilgrims during Haji without hitches.

The lawmaker noted that the economic objective of Nigeria under the Fundamental Objective and Directive Principles of State Policy in Section 16(a) of the 1999 Constitution provides that: ‘the state shall harness the resources of the country and promote national prosperity, and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy for every citizen of the country on the basis of social justice and equity of status and opportunity.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has approved the request by President Buhari to source for N850 billion from domestic market to finance projects and programmes in the 2020 budget.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Supply, Hon. Garba Alhassan Ado, explained that the N850 billion was not a request for a new loan, but a conversion of foreign borrowing to local borrowing.

He said: “This item is already captured in the 2020 Appropriation Act. It was provided in the budget. All they want is to take the facilities from local sources. During the leadership interface with the Finance Minister, we were assured that the rate will be favourable, and the request was agreed at the leadership meeting.”

The approval was speedily given by the Green Chamber in few minutes.