The senate, on Tuesday, said that the shut down of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was going to mount a further pressure on the recessed economy.
The upper chamber’s statement follows announcement by the Ministry of Aviation, that the Abuja airport, will be shut down for six weeks from march 8, 2017 to enable total repairs on the runway.
But the senate, in a motion sponsored by Senator Hope Uzodinma and co-sponsored by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe, Abdullahi A. Gume, Fatima Rasak and Baba Garbai, kicked against the moves to divert flights from Abuja Airport to Kaduna Airport citing security concerns.
Uzodinma said a six-week outright closure of a major and the only airport in the nation’s federal capital can inflict untold hardships on international and local air travellers and consequently dent the nation’s image.
He said a complete shutdown of the airport would impact negatively on international trade and related activities, with a multiplier effect that can exact further pressure on the recessed economy.
Senator Ekweremadu said: “No doubt that we have challenges in the aviation sector, including delayed flights and insecurity. What I do not agree with is that the airport will be closed while the repairs are ongoing. It will not be a rocket science to repair a runway. It has been done in many parts of the world.
“Closing the airport means we are not thinking deeply. To think about closing it is an insult to our collective thinking. From those I have spoken with, it means there was no proper consultation.
“On security implications, many former and serving government officials have been kidnapped on that Kaduna road. It will be a major nightmare. We lost a serving minister on that road. Let us invite the minister and dialogue on the way forward. If we have a solution, the minister should be humble enough to accept them,” he said.
Meanwhile the senate has summoned the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State (Aviation), Hadi Sirika; Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Saddique Abubakar; and the Managing Directors, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to provide details on the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja as well as to explore other options that can avoid a total closure of the airport.