The Nigerian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Baba Ahmad Jidda, has commended the governments of China and Nigeria for deepening bilateral ties between both countries through the approval of Air Peace’s scheduled, commercial flights to Guangzhou-China, which commenced July 13, 2022.
The diplomat also called on the Chinese government to relax the travel restrictions for Nigerians willing to fly to the Asian country.
Jidda made the call during a courtesy visit to the Chairman of Air Peace, Barrister Allen Onyema, at the airline’s headquarters in Lagos where he noted that the approval for Air Peace to launch flights into China was given on the strength of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement signed between both countries that took about 4 years before the agreement was finally implemented.
The Ambassador, who lauded the efforts of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and those of his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, stressed that a lot went into getting Air Peace, a Nigerian airline, to finally connect both countries through air travel.
He said “I want to say that as an ambassador, we still have much to do to support Air Peace to operate comfortably for the benefit of all Nigerians and the Chinese. So far, the Chinese are benefitting tremendously from the operations of Air Peace because Nigerians are having some difficulty in obtaining visas.
I, therefore, want to use this medium to plead with the Embassy of China in Abuja, to consider relaxing restrictions on Nigerians, such that Nigerians will be given visas and they will now fly Air Peace and the market of Air Peace will expand. This, to us, is very important.”
Ambassador Jidda added that “Finally, I would like to thank the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for making this historic approval of direct flight between Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China”, Jidda asserted.
In his remarks, Onyema expressed delight over the visit of the Ambassador and emphasised the pivotal role he played in ensuring that Air Peace got the statutory nod to kick off the China route.
Applauding the tremendous support of the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, towards the airline, the philanthropist CEO harped on the need for Nigerians to jettison their ethnic differences and support one another.
He affirmed: “This is why I have always believed in the unity of this country. I am Onyema from the South East. You are Alhaji Baba Ahmad Jidda from North East. You have been fighting for me. You have been fighting for this Air Peace owned by an Igbo man. And today, we have it, the China route.
“Today, I want to use this opportunity to tell Nigerians that a Northerner fought for it. A Northerner in the person of the Minister of Aviation Alhaji Sirika, who gave Air Peace the designation to do the China route. Also, a Northerner, our President approved all these and made sure you, Your Excellency, represented the country so well there to ensure a Nigerian airline got this approval. You stood your ground. Even when we were not contacting you, you were working behind the scenes to make sure this happened”.