There was increase in activities at the different terminals of the Lagos airport on Thursday as passengers were seen scrambling for flight tickets to various destinations within and outside the country.
The development was attributed to the presidential election, which holds nationwide on Saturday, although some passengers denied this, stating that they were travelling for normal business activities.
At the departure hall of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, many passengers were seen waiting for their flights to be called.
Heavy presence of security personnel was also noticed at the terminal.
Some of the passengers, who spoke to our correspondent, however, denied leaving the country because of the elections, while others said that they had fixed their trips abroad before the change in the election date from February 14 to March 28.
Mr. Julius Ikedi, who was heading for Johannesburg, South Africa, said he was embarking on a business trip, adding that he would be back before the governorship election.
He said, “No, I can’t be running to another country because of elections in Nigeria. Where will I run to? Of course, my whole family is here; if I was running, I would have gone with my wife and children.
“I am just going for a routine business trip and will be back within a fortnight; that is before the governorship election. It is rather unfortunate that I will not be able to vote in the presidential election, but this trip had been fixed long before the postponement from the earlier dates fixed for the elections.”
Another passenger, Mr. Johnson Umoh, who was to travel to the United Kingdom via Istanbul, Turkey, told our correspondent that he was a frequent traveller and was going for normal business activities.
He said, “I travel every two months; I was in the UK in January; it has absolutely nothing to do with the elections, it is my normal business that I am going for.
“I am just grateful that the Federal Government decided not to close the airspace, because I would have had a hard time trying to reschedule this trip.”
A statement from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency on Thursday confirmed that even though the land and sea borders had been closed, the airspace remained open.
It stated, “NAMA hereby wishes to reassure all airspace users and the general public that the Nigerian airspace remains open and safe for air travel before, during and after the general elections.
“The agency has therefore put in place all the necessary measures to ensure safe flight operations within the period.”
A flight official with Etihad Airline said she did not find the crowd at the airport unusual.
The Chief Executive Officer, Gadeshire Travel and Tours, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said it was not right to link the increased activities at the airports to the upcoming elections.
He said, “Of course, the rise in the value of the dollar as against the naira has affected people, so you won’t expect that people will just spend money to buy seats for foreign trips just because of the elections, it is not likely.
“From what we have seen, I can say that there has been more activities in the local travel industry as against international, and that is understandable at this period.”
At the MMA 2 terminal, there was a rush for tickets to different local destinations as most airlines were fully booked.
Some passengers who spoke to our correspondent said they were travelling to their villages where they registered so that they will be able to cast their votes, while others said they were having the Easter break early.