in ,

Ben Ayade: For Resumption of Domestic Flights: A Potent Tonic to Stir and Bolster the COVID-19 Gaunt Economy.

Prof. Ben Ayade

The Governor of Cross River State, Senator Professor Ben Ayade.

Recently the Governor of Cross River state, Sir Ben Ayade pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari, to lift ban on domestic flights in the country which was imposed as a result of the present global pandemic, Coronavirus, better refer to as COVID-19.

The Cross River Governor plead with Mr. President and the federal government to lift ban on domestic flights is so germane and cogent bearing in mind the devastating effect the ban has already has on the economy of the nation, especially the very vital tourism, travel and hospitality industry and their allied small industries and businesses that survive from the operations of the major tourism and hospitality sector.

We cannot deny the fact that besides the prime place of the tourism, travel and hospitality industry in the world and as a sector that holds great promises and potentials for the present and future globally, in Nigeria the sector has been contributing some percentages to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the past years.

For example national statistics indicates that in 2007 the sector contributed 6.0 percent to the National Gross Domestic Product {GDP}, it contributed 7.0 percent in 2008, in 2009 it was 5.5 percent, 2010 it contributed 3.9 percent, 2011 was 3.5 percent and contributed 3.9, 4.5; 4.6; 4.4;5.1; 5.4; and 5.0 in 2012, 2013 2014 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively to the GDP of the country.

It is estimated that in the year 2016, direct contributions of travel and tourism to the National Gross Domestic product {GDP} was N1, 861.4bn; in 2017 it was N1.881bn, while in 2018 the sector contributed the estimated sum of N3.63bn to the National Gross Domestic product; just as the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that in 2017 the tourism sector accounted for 34 percent of the GDP and about 20 percent of the nations employment.

Governor Ben Ayade
Governor Ben Ayade

It is therefore a sad reality that since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the world and its first reported case in Nigeria on the 27 of February of this year, this sector became one of the sectors badly hit by the global pandemic, leading to the sack of some workers in the aviation industry worldwide and in the country in particular.

Besides the above stated sector, other economic sectors and the overall national economy has dangerously plummeted, partly to the harsh lockdown policy within the country and also no thanks to the rate at which crude oil price has crashed in the global market, all boil down to the notorious COVID-19.

It is based on this premise that the recent call by the proactive and dynamic governor of Cross River state, Sen. Prof Ben Ayade on the President to lift ban on domestic flights cannot be faulted by any reason or reasons which have been postulated by anybody, organization or officials of the health sector.

Also See: Amazing Facts About The First Efik Female Village Head

Nobody in his right senses and mind can doubt the glaring fact that the continuous closer of our domestic airspace is having a negative impact on the nations economy in general and the aviation, hospitality and tourism industry in particular and the devastating effect it will have on the nation for another uninterrupted closer for one month.

It is based on this facts that Ayade maintained that “The suspension of domestic flights has affected most hotels leading to their closure. It is so bad that most hotels including the 5-star hotels are shutting down because they cannot even sustain the cost of diesel for their generating sets and as that happens, they start laying off workers. So you have a lot of workers, young people who used to work in the hotels and tourism industry out of jobs. And the big question is, how long can this continue?”

As the main aviation, tourism and hospitality industry is under a serious burden now, so is the allied and small businesses and caterers who plays key roles in the functioning of the main industry have been pushed out of businesses causing untold hardship to them and their dependents as well as those they also employ to serve.

“The caterers who supply food to the hotels are all out of business. All the suppliers are out of business. So as we continue to lock the domestic airports for another four weeks, what we are going to have in terms of economic loss, what we are going to have in terms of social delinquency, the associated moral and social tension that will come with it will be just too huge for the country to bear, Ayade sadly warned.

Arguments put forward by some top officials in the health ministry or sector that lifting ban on domestic flights at this time will impact negatively on the nation especially flights between Abuja and lagos is not cogent enough; rather such line of reasoning is demoralizing and shows that the sector is ill-prepared and is not capable confronting new challenges and finding solutions to the issues.

It is the candid opinion of this writer that where there is a will, there will always be a way to get out of knotty issues such as the one we are presently facing as a nation except where there is no sincerity of purpose by those saddled with such responsibilities.

The NCDC and the Minister of Health and other top health officials and the aviation authority can come up with strategies that will firstly ensure that the airlines are all COVID-19 constantly disinfected or fumigate and that the officials, workers, air hostess, stewardess and attendants hostess are thoroughly screen to ensure they are COVID-19 free while those who have been caught up with the pandemic are identified and isolated for treatment.

In the same vein, passengers who are to travel by plane to another city will have to be subjected to the normal COVID-19 screening and testing to ascertain their state of health as regards the current pandemic before they can be allowed to board any plane to any location, including other life saving rules and guidelines.

It is based on this altruistic reasoning that Ayade provided a simple solution and aver that “We can still be safe while allowing the internals of Nigeria to run. We can do so by allowing the domestic airlines to start operating. As they fly, NCDC should spell out certain conditions like making sure aircrafts are properly disinfected, ensuring temperature tests are carried out before passengers get on board and of course, ensuring that all passengers wear proper masks. The airlines can have their own masks that they can give to passengers,” the governor further posited.

Elucidating further, Governor Ben Ayade explained, “So, for that short flight of one hour, everyone is protected and the hotels can pick up again, the suppliers can have their businesses back so that workers can go to work. For states like ours that depend so much on tourism, we are almost paralyzed. Once visitors, travellers and tourists are not coming into Calabar, the hotels will have no patronage because people do not just leave their homes to go to a hotel to sleep for the fun of it, only once in a while may be. But again hotels need consistent patronage and that can only come when domestic flights are coming in and going out.”

In the same manner, the appeal by the Cross River state Governor Ben Ayade to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government “not to lock down the healthy but rather lock down the sick and allow the healthy to work, could not have come from any other personality but a man with the interest of the people at heart as well as the survival of the nations economy, bearing in mind that his concrete achievements in Cross River are there for all to see.

It should be noted that some countries have resumed domestic flights. Kazakh Carrier, Air Astana resumed scheduled flights from Kazakhstan two largest airports, Almaty and Nur-sultan to other regional airports since May 11, while Air Asia had begun domestic flights in Malaysia. It is also reported that Thailand and Philippines commenced their domestic flights on May 17, 2020, while India started skeletal services since May 7, and will commence fully domestic flights on Monday May 18, 2020 with all the necessary health measures put in place.

Some of the measures include strict observance of social distancing protocols at the airports, mandatory online check-in and earlier airport arrivals for medical check among others. Similarly, Emirates resumes passengers flights to nine countries including UK and Australia.

Air France has scheduled the resumption of flights to Lome, Togo with a stop at Niamey, Niger on June 15 and on the same day scheduled direct flights to Abidjan, Cote dIvoire, Cotonou, Benin Republic and Conakry, Guinea, just as Ghana has become the first African country to resume domestic flights from the Kotoka International Airport.

It is my fervent position that Governor Ben Ayade propositions, line of arguments on the need for at least domestic flights to resume in the country are well thought and without faults, if the authority will follow or adheres strictly to the suggestions proffers by the proactive, smart and charismatic Cross River State governor Ben Ayade, including borrowing a leave from countries that had already taken a bold step in that direction including our ECOWAS brother, Ghana, without sentiments.
While it may be appropriate for adequate measures to be put in place for examinations classes that did not complete their terminal examinations to resume and complete them, and Examinations bodies like WAEC, NECO and others to commence their examinations administration under strict and appropriate social distancing protocols, general resumption of schools at this time is not encouraged, not even private schools.

Reopening schools from the pre-primary to the university level at this period in Nigeria is like inviting and quickening the arrival of Armageddon and equally working to bring to pass the intention of those who created the coronavirus {COVID-19} and those prophets of doom who predicted that Nigerians and Africans walk and drop dead in droves in the streets.

Instead of reopening schools at this time leading to monumental catastrophic, the domestic flights should resume flights with adequate arrangement and sense of responsibility by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and stakeholders in the COVID-19 battle, while at the same time putting in place solid plans and facilities for the schools at all levels to resume without unleashing national disaster. Perhaps, Nigeria can take a example from the United Kingdom plan and arrangement to reopen public schools in that country.

As a person, I feel that the authority’s continuous banning of domestic flights in the country will serve a useful multi-dimensional purpose only for evil end because, besides those who unfortunately had been reported death from the COVID-19, and others who may still pass on from it, thousands will die from hunger and poverty, loss of jobs, frustration, depression, mental derangement among others than from the virus itself.

What do you think?

25 Points
Upvote Downvote

Written by Seth Brendan


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Cross River State Gov Ben Ayade

Cross River State Maintaining Quality in Basic Education

bitcoin forecast

Bitcoin Forecast June 8 2020