By Kingsley Unah
Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo has met with the President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Duailj at the ongoing 15th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation (ICAN2023) holding in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia .
The meeting which has provided countries and participants a forum to learn about current industry trends and issues, and exchange experiences, in addition to negotiation of agreements with respect to air services on direct flight connectivity between countries for the purpose of promoting commerce, trade and tourism, had officials of the Aeronautical authorities of both countries in attendance, including representatives of airlines from Nigeria and Saudi Arabia discussed critical issues with respect to the performance of Nigerian Air Carriers during the 2023 Hajj operations; challenges of Hajj operations during the 2023 Hajj season; outstanding of Nigerian Air carriers; recommendations for 2024 Hajj season; and the preparation for 2024 Hajj season.
The meeting discussed extensively on all the issues and resolved that concerted efforts be made by the Nigerian side to ensure flawless and seamless Hajj operations in the interest of the pilgrims. A standing committee was constituted with representatives from the two countries with the mandate to meet weekly to discuss on progress being made by Nigeria towards preparations for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Makkah and Medina.
Similarly, in order to deepen the implementation of the subsisting Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Seychelles, Keyamo also met with his counterpart, Mr. Anthony Derjacques, the Minister of Transport of Republic of Seychelles. The meeting at the instance of Seychelles discussed on how to further accelerate direct air connectivity between the two countries.
Keyamo applauded Mr. Derjacques for initiating the meeting and promised to fast track the implementation of the signed BASA to promote trade and tourism between the two African nations. He equally informed the Seychelles Minister of Transport that the Government of Nigeria had taken the necessary step towards the ratification of the BASA as the Ministry of Justice of Nigeria had commenced the process of its ratification.
Keyamo and Mr. Anthony Derjacques, the Minister of Transport of Republic of Seychelles
Continuing, he stated that he would liaise with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigeria Immigration Service to ensure adequate profiling were done on those who had the intention of visiting Seychelles from Nigeria to prevent those with bad intentions from entering the country. The two countries appointed Focal Officers that would drive the implementation of the decisions reached at the meeting.
Mr. Derjacques who noted that the subsisting BASA between the two countries, signed at the 2022 ICAN meeting which held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 5th-9th December, 2022 had not been made operational said that the signed BASA instrument had been deposited with the parliament of Seychelles for ratification. He, therefore, stated that nothing should stop the commencement of direct flight between Seychelles and Nigeria, either through chartered flight or scheduled operations. He further informed that his country had put in place a robust system that would ensure that those with genuine intentions were allowed into the country known for tourism and her aquatic splendour.