The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, met the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Chairman of Airpeace, Allen Onyema, over the flight row between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.
The meeting took place behind closed doors at the National Assembly.
Members of the House Committee on Aviation had assembled at the venue for the meeting, but after about two hours of waiting, it was announced that the Speaker was already meeting with the ministers in his office.
The lawmakers who were waiting at the venue expressed their displeasure with the development.
After the closed-door session, Mr Gbajabiamila, alongside the ministers briefed journalists on the outcome of the parley.
“These are welcome developments considering the relationship between UAE and Nigeria particularly in the last few days the president has been there, the vice president has been there, many of our government functionaries have been there to foster stronger ties between the two countries.
“And so we are not going to allow these to mar the giant strides that have been made between the two countries,” the Speaker said.
Mr Gbajabiamila also commended Nigerians for standing by the government to defend the country’s ‘national pride’. He noted that “national pride, if well justified, trumps every other thing.”
The House had resolved to intervene in the row following a motion moved by Ndudi Elemelu (PDP, Delta) in November.
Nigeria had reduced Emirate Airline slot to one from the initial 21 slots approved as a retaliation for the ‘unfair’ treatment of Air Peace airline.
The irate Dubai-based Emirates had then suspended all its flights to Abuja and Lagos after the Nigerian government’s decision on the airline.
Following the controversy, UAE had in a letter signed by the Director-General of General Civil Aviation Authority, Mohammed Ahli, directly to Air Peace, offered the airline the option to fly directly to Dubai and not Sharjah Airport that it had earlier requested.
It said the slots have been made available for Air Peace “as a gesture of goodwill and in support of the relations between the two countries.”