Nigeria News

Abuja Airport Closure in Order, Says Uzodinma

Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma Friday, said federal government's closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja was in order.

Speaking with State House correspondents shortly after he met President Goodluck Jonathan at the presidential villa, he noted that the closure was in line with maintenance of the airport as it was practised all over the world.

Uzodinma observed that potholes at the airport, was a major problem for use at the airport.
"This is done for obvious safety reasons. We have some potholes that are already seen as serious hazards. And don't forget that that’s the only runway that lands our President, all the VIPs, all the investors that come into this country.

"So, at the last time, there was a technical audit by FAAN in keeping with international regulations and they opened items on the country, component among them was the Abuja runway. So, we now had series of meetings with the Minister of aviation and the airlines and agreed that from 12 o'clock on Saturday midnight to Sunday that Julius Berger will take enough time to repair the runway and commence navigation once again.

"So, it is just for pure maintenance programme based on safety reasons and it is welcome by all of us", the senator said

On alternative landing places, he explained that "well, all over the world, they know that we have one runway in Abuja. The next thing anybody can do is to look for the nearest airport close to Abuja either Kaduna or Minna and then choose whether it will make a better business sense to land there or not to fly at all.

"And whatever may be the case between midnight Saturday and Sunday, it's not something anybody can cry about. All over the world, airports and runways are usually closed whenever there are obvious maintenance programmes that bother on safety. So, our own should not be an exception".

On the imperative of the country having a national carrier, he told journalists that "we have talked on this so many times. All over the world, what is in vogue now, before this time we used to have national carrier by countries. Government can no longer do businesses that are meant for private sector.

"So, for us to have a national Carrier, it is an airline that government must own 100 per cent and I doubt whether the government has the managerial and technical capability to begin to float an airline in an economy that is being privatised. Rather, it can copy from the United States, France, Britain where they have national flag carrier.

"In this situation, what happens is that private people will own the airline and government will continue to support and then they will carry or flag. It is important to see airline that is carrying our flag."

Meanwhile, Uzodinma however defended Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha in the call for registration of northerners in the state, saying the governor was not involved in the call.
"Well, when the debate was going on yesterday, we didn't have enough information on the exercise; and so the Governor did not communicate properly to us.

"However, we have no reason not to believe what he has said and there is no discriminatory policy that is very important because of our national interest and unity. We don't have to discriminate against people wherever they reside in the country.

"Once you're a citizen of this country, you're qualified, you're eligible, you're free under the law to decide to settle in any party of the country and go about your businesses without fear of molestation" the senator said.

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