By; BALA B,BITRUS, Minna.
Though the Kaduna airport has since last week been serving as alternate airport to the Nmamdi Azikiwe International Airport which is closed for repairs, the Minna Airport may receive the nod as an alternate choice to save the country from huge economic losses.
The National Assembly had assured to support efforts at completing the repair work at the Minna airport to make it viable as an alternate airport due to it’s nearness to Abuja.
Niger state government have not relented in its bid to have the Minna airport put to use instead of relying solely on the federal government’s preferred Kaduna airport despite rejection and silence by some major airline operators to use the Kaduna airport in the interim as the Nmamdi Azikiwe International airline closes till end of April.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello had last month made a last ditch effort to disuade the federal government against picking the preferred Kaduna airport alone since several major airline operators are still grandstanding on their rejection of the government’s preferred Kaduna airport.
Senate President Bukola Saraki on Monday paid an unscheduled inspection of the Minna International Airport on his way to Abuja ostensibly as part of efforts to address the refusal by most foreign airlines to use the Kaduna airport while the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport undergoes reconstruction.
The Senate President had during his last visit to Minna promised to support efforts at completing the upgrade and repair works at the Minna Airport to make it functional and viable as the closest airport to the closed Nmamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
Since the closure of the Nmamdi Azikiwe International Airport, except for the Ethiopian airline, most foreign airlines have not shown keen interest in using the Kaduna airport as gateway into the country while the Abuja airport remains shut for repairs.
The visit by the Senate President is believed to be part of the efforts to assess the level of work at the Minna Airport particularly at the departure and arrival lounges of the airport and see how government would be made to give it’s approval for the airport to be designated as an alternate airport.
Senator Saraki flew into Minna from Lagos in an aircraft with registration number 5N FGS at about 1:05pm and was received by the Chief of Staff to Governor Bello Mikail Al-Amin Bmitosahi who briefed the Senate President about efforts by the state government to ensure that the Minna airport is put into maximum use.The Senate President inspected ongoing work at both the arrival and departure wings of the airport which is being undertaken by the state government.
The Chief of Staff to the Governor also briefed the Senate President of the state government’s commitment to fast-track the reconstruction of the Minna-Suleja road project which has been stalled due to lack of funds.The Senate President commended the Niger state government for it’s efforts to ensure that the Minna airport is upgraded and put into maximum use.
He assured that the Senate will look into the request made by Niger state government on the use of the Minna airport as a second alternate airport
Senator Saraki was at the airport for less than twenty minutes before he departed to Abuja by road on a distance of 98 kilometres.