The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has advice state governments against constructing new airports unless it conforms to the socio-economical development of such a state.
He implied that building new airports only serves the interests of the affluent people of Nigeria, but rather, state governments should be concerned with projects that would profit the generality of the nation’s poor and down-trodden.
The former Rivers State Governor gave the advice last weekend in Abeokuta, Ogun state, during his assessment visit to some roads construction projects executed by Ogun State government on behalf of the Federal Government. He noted that airport project is for elites and would not relieve the poor of their suffering.
He added the Nigeria already has many airports that are not even viable.
“Governors should focus on those things that would improve on the lives of the poor, not the rich. It’s the rich people that fly plane. How many poor people know where airport is much more fly an aircraft?
“I believe that the construction of airport should be backed by the growth of the economy. There are some airports that are constructed just for the governors to land and take off. That won’t be the idea for me as minister of transportation.
“I’d prefer that all airports that are constructed would be backed by economic demand. And when we look at the numbers, if the numbers add up. We would not discourage Ogun State if you like to construct an airport, but we would like to advise that they should look at the economics of an airport,” Amaechi said.
He however pledged the Federal Government’s commitment towards the completion of new terminals of the nation’s four international airports in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano and also pledge FG’s support to Ogun State if it want to build an airport.
Amaechi also hinted that the construction of railway between Lagos and Calabar as well as Lagos and Kano would commence this year.
“I am convinced that most of the roads have been constructed. By the time we write the report, we have engineers, we have people from the Public Procurement Department, they would assess the cost and put it in the report,” he said.
The Governor of Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun later solicited the approval and support of the Minister in ensuring the completion of the abandoned airport project in Ewekoro local government area of the state.
The Governor said:
“The airport is being built by Federal Government. In fact it is the oldest airport we have in Nigeria. It was done in 1940/41; that was what they were using during the World War and that’s why we have the Commonwealth cemetery there. Somehow, after the war, nobody said anything about it.
“But 12 years ago, Federal Government started again. Everything has been done. Contractors have even been mobilised to site before they stopped funding it.
“Ogun State is the industrial hub of Nigeria. There is no nation that would develop if the industries are not there. Even in the radius of 5km, in US, we have even about four airports, we have even examples in London.
“But for us, it is not just for the governor to land; people would want to move their goods and services, people will want to come and that’s why we need an airport here. And in any case, the airport in Lagos, where can they expand to? It’s congested.”