The minister who spoke at the Presidential Task Force Briefing on COVID-19 explained that most flying seen, in and around Abuja are rehearsals for the Air Force celebration holding soon.
According to Sirika, 98% of flights approved will be connected to COVID-19 I think 1% is either repatriation or request from the diplomatic community which must go through or it will be repatriation due to illness of another kind and those repatriation which are Medical evacuation must have a stamp from a Teaching Hospital.
He further explained the essential flights are either to bring in essential cargo like equipment and medical supplies to combat the dreaded disease as well as food.
“Every single flight we approve has been essential flights it is 98% related to COVID-19, we have probably 1% diplomatic flights, and then there are repatriation which you see and hear of. There is also medical evacuation; this will have a stamp of a Teaching Hospital.
“However I want to share with you a conversation I had with someone on twitter when I said we will not be able to open our airport and airspace for normal operations. Paraphrasing a tweet he got Sirika said, Someone said, kindly stop all the VIPs from going out, It makes no sense to close it and allow governors stream out of Abuja, in the first instance, they carried this virus into Nigeria and now running around isn’t okay
“I said to the gentleman, I agree with you however trust me whoever is approved to fly governor or no governor, is an essential trip and a value addition and 98% is related to COVID-19.
“There is no exception to governors, I have denied several of such flights including two governors from South-South and two from South East and by the way three of them are members of the All Progressive Alliance (APC), I think one is from North Central.
But just to say that, once you see a flight approved, it is diligently done and must be essential, it must be related to COVID-19 or they are essential flights like cargo that will bring in medicine or equipment, medical supplies or something related to COVID-19 or something related to our well being, like food. So please trust us, bear with us, while these will last, it will be for a short term” he said.
On the flights in Abuja air space, “this is occasioned by information dished out by Nigerian air force to celebrate their day and mark their week, I think tomorrow and every single flight that you see have been approved, every single flight we approve will be an essential flight.