‘Nigeria-Emirates row stalls Kano Int’l Airport’s transformation’
*NANTA honours Ganduje for travel, tourism devt
About nine months after Emirates Airline withdrew services from Nigeria, the lingering row has continued to hurt both Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
While the UAE has lost patronage and revenue from one of its global busiest routes in Lagos, Nigerians too are missing their easiest transit corridor in Dubai Airport, coupled with Emirates’ footprints in local partnerships.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, yesterday, lamented that since Emirates withdrew services over the COVID-19 test row, the partnership to transform the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, has been stalled.
Ganduje, at his unveiling as the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies’ (NANTA) Governor of the Year, said the state should have been better off with daily Emirates’ flights from Kano, but for the hiatus.
Emirates left Nigeria in March over diplomatic spat on account of additional rapid antigen tests imposed on Nigerian travellers as part of measures to check fake COVID-19 test results used in accessing Dubai from Lagos and Abuja.
Emirates, in July, hinted on the plan to resume Nigerian operation for summer travels. The decision was rescinded about 48 hours later. The UAE government has lately restored its open-door policy to Nigerian travellers, but the conflict of interest between the national carrier and Nigerian authorities remains unresolved.
Receiving the NANTA delegation in Kano, Ganduje informed that he had turned around facilities at Kano International Airport, with the desire to provide the best air transport services that would make MAKIA attractive to international carriers and further boost trade and tourism services in the ancient city.
“We consulted Emirate airlines and they worked with us to upgrade the Kano airport but for COVID-19 and the ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve Emirates airline’s flight issues with Nigeria. The airline would have been operating out of Kano by now. That is how serious we are about making Kano a competitive destination,” Ganduje said.
On infrastructure that aids tourism, the governor reiterated that roads are critical to the movement of goods and persons. Hence, the commitment to eliminating road bottlenecks in the city via construction of flyover bridges and bypasses that brought relief to road users and made a tour of the city very attractive to the growth of cultural tourism in the state.
“This award of excellence from NANTA is most welcome and evidence of the true benefits of what we have done here. We must thank NANTA and assure you of our presence to receive the NANTA Eminent Persons Award in Abuja next week.
“We must add that security is the key to life and we invested heavily in community policing and no doubt, Kano is safe and home to all in Nigeria,” he said.
Ganduje, the first recipient of the NANTA Governor of the Year award, is recognised for creating an enabling environment for the growth of the cultural tourism economy in Kano through the provision of infrastructure and security.
President of NANTA, who was represented by her deputy, Yinka Folami, noted that tourism infrastructural development in Kano could not be overemphasised.
Folami said Kano has been able to encourage the business of travel and tourism trade, which impacted positively on the livelihood of the majority of NANTA members and Nigerians too.
“Your Excellency, your achievements resonate with us as an association, and we felt you deserve our encouragement and support by the way of this award of excellence. This is not driven by any pecuniary interest but out of strong resolve to discover and recognise leaders at the behest of building a new tourism industry in Nigeria.
“We are not living in denial of our security challenges but we doff our hat to a governor, who has beyond measure, proven that in Nigeria, a cosmopolitan state such as Kano can really lead in performance and verifiable developmental milestones, and that peace can be sustained and is possible, with cultural tourism a focal economic reality”, he added.