SWITZERLAND, MAY 23 – Following the closure of international airports in the country, the governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said the state government is trying to get the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to allow flights from Lagos to Abuja to operate.
The governor lamented that the aviation industry, as well as the entertainment, hospitality, and transportation sectors, had been “significantly” affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Recall that the Federal Government on March 23 shut all international airports in the country before it later extended the closure to all airports in the country, banning all local and international flights.
Sanwo-Olu spoke as a panellist at a webinar hosted by FSDH Merchant Bank on Friday. The webinar, titled, ‘A global pandemic: local realities and peculiarities – a view from the frontlines’, was anchored by the Chairman, FSDH Holding Company, Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, and the bank’s Managing Director, Mrs Hamda Ambah.
Other panellists included the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai; his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki; Senior lecturer and consultant, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr Alero Ann Roberts; Director, Centre for International Development, Harvard University, Prof Asim Ijaz Khwaja, and Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School, Dr Jaya Wen.
The governor said, “In terms of direct economy, I know that the entertainment industry has been affected badly. I know the hospitality industry has been affected greatly, especially as people could not go out. It affected those sectors badly. Transportation business and the aviation sector have been affected significantly and these are large employers of labour. We all know that Nollywood employs many people, so we are thinking through how to reset these economies very quickly but in a very gradual manner.
“So, the aviation industry has been badly hit and just this (Friday) morning, I spoke with a major player in that industry and we are trying to get the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to see whether we are going to resume Lagos–Abuja flights before we get to other sectors. There has to be some gradual process in lifting the lockdown.
“We will continue to have engagements with all of the players down the value chain. At the right time when we see that the t’s have been crossed and the i’s have been dotted, we will do that and you can hold us to that.”