Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said on Tuesday that the Federal Government would construct 10 new airports across the country to boost civil aviation.
Sirika stated this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Aviation to defend his Ministry’s 2021 budget proposals.
He said the regime of President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the Assembly have done justice to the civil Aviation sector since 2015 through the development of a roadmap, currently being implemented.
The Minister said the Federal Government would build new airports in Anambra, Benue, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, and Gombe states.
He also said that Kebbi, Osubi, and Dutse airports have been taken over by the Federal Government for redevelopment.
He said the Gombe State Government had also written the federal authorities, asking it to take over the Gombe Airport.
Sirika said, “Consequent upon that roadmap, we have seen aviation grow in 2018 to become the second-fastest-growing sector of the economy.
“Also and by 2019, it became the fastest-growing sector of the economy and increased its GDP contribution.
“From 2015 till now, we’ve seen a lot of growth in civil aviation, the number of airports is increasing.
“So far, about seven airports have been added to the map, some of them completed, some of them under construction.
“There are airports coming up in Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Lafia, Damaturu, Anambra and so on.
“All these show that civil aviation is growing during this administration.
“So, we have about 10 new airports coming up, that is almost half the number of airports we used to have in Nigeria.
“We are adding 50 per cent of the number of airports,” the minister added.
The Minister also hinted that the national carrier, Nigeria Air, was part of the Aviation sector roadmap, which would be delivered before 2023.
He said, “We are on it. The transaction adviser has brought in the outline business case.
“It is being reviewed by Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Soon after it finishes, it will go to the Federal Executive Council and it will be approved.
“We will not leave this government without having it in place.”
He justified the need to site another airport in Lokoja, Kogi State as an alternate to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
He said, “Lokoja is an important northern town. It is a cosmopolitan town, it’s a mini Nigeria and it is extremely very important in growth and development of our country.
“We have a lot of agricultural activities there. There is fishery, there is perishable item production and so on.
“So, establishing an airport there is quite apt. For me, it is is something we should have done long ago for its importance.”