The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has countered the claim by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that bad weather was part of the reasons the commission resolved to postpone the elections.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Khalid Emele, General Manager, Public Affairs, NAMA, accused INEC of finding excuses to justify its inability to carry on with the elections.
Stating the reasons for the postponement just few hours to the commencement of the general election, Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, had claimed that flights were affected by bad weather and as such the commission could not transport election materials by air.
Mahmood said: “Unfortunately, in the last one week, flights within the country have been adversely affected by bad weather. For instance, three days ago, we were unable to deliver materials to some locations due to bad weather.
‘We, therefore, had to rely on slow-moving long haulage vehicles to locations that can be serviced by air in spite of the fact that we created five zonal airport hubs Abuja (North-Central), Port Harcourt (South-South and South-East), Kano (North-West), Maiduguri and Yola (North-East) and Lagos (South-West) to facilitate the delivery of electoral logistics.”
However, in his response to the claim by INEC, Emele said the Nigerian airspace was directed to work round the clock in order to transport election materials for the commission.
Emele said: “The Management of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) hereby wishes to inform the general public that there was no disruption in the provision of air traffic services on Saturday, the 16th of February 2019 in line with the agency’s mandate to provide uninterrupted safe, effective, efficient, and economic air navigation services in the country.
“Furthermore, the agency in line with the directive of the Honourable Minister of State (Aviation), Sen. Hadi Sirika, had earlier ensured a 24-hour operation at all Nigerian airports on Friday 15th February 2019 to facilitate the transportation of INEC materials nationwide."
He urged Nigerians that airlines would remain open and continue to operate under safe conditions.
“NAMA wishes to reassure all airspace users and the general public that the Nigerian airspace shall remain open for all airspace users before, during and after the rescheduled 2019 general election.
"Thus, the agency has put in place appropriate contingency measures to ensure safe flight operations within the period, as well as possible extension of operational hours of any domestic airport when the need arises.”