The Enugu airport has “a lot of problems” and should be ideally shut down for major repairs, Nigeria’s former aviation minister said on Friday.
Hadi Sirika said this after his ministerial screening at the Senate.
Mr Sirika is one of the 43 ministers appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
On Friday, he was given the traditional “take a bow” treatment by senators.
Being a former senator, the nominee was not questioned but asked to take a bow and go.
After his brief presentation, the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, urged Mr Sirika to consider the renovation of the Enugu International Airport and moved that he take a bow and go.
“We are glad he is here with us and going back as our donation to the executive arm. On this note of speaking for the Senate, in order to ask Hadi to take the privilege of being a member of the hollow chamber, I will like to ask about Enugu airport.
“They took away the generator, as you take a bow, remember the generator and the runway into the same manner you expeditiously dealt with Abuja airport,” he said.
He thereafter took a bow and left the chamber
Briefing journalists after the screening, Mr Sirika answered questions on the planned Nigerian Air and Enugu airport
When asked about his plan for the Enugu airport, one of the several airports across Nigeria owned by the federal government, he said the airport “has a lot of problems.”
“If you ask me, I will close Enugu tomorrow, actually today, because the runway has failed. They are maintaining it regularly to ensure safe operations.
“I am not comfortable because there are also other problems with the runway. It is short, it needs to be extended. We recognise the efforts by the federal government by closing down the market beside the airport.
“Also, people have built within the premises of the airport on the safety area of the airport and that ought not be, on the land belonging to FAAN. Whoever is the next minister will contend with that because this is safety. Enugu will be dear to the next minister,” he said.
Nigeria Air still priority
On the planned national carrier, Nigeria Air, Mr Sirika said should President Muhammadu Buhari reappoint him aviation minister, he will continue that good job.
“I believe having a very vibrant private sector-led national carrier is good for the economy of Nigeria, it is good for the population of Nigeria, it’s good for the centrality of Nigeria, it is good for the wealth and fortune of Nigeria,” he said.
“One aeroplane in Nigeria, wide-body, is equal to 300 direct jobs to start with. The relationship between GDP and air transportation is direct and we have the biggest GDP in Africa.
“By the US estimation we are a trillion-dollar GDP, by official figures of the NBS, we are half a trillion-dollar GDP. All those that are not included like the barbershop, like the ‘akara’ shop and so is considered we might be hitting more than $1.5 trillion GDP, we are 200 million people that will grow more than 400 million people in 2030.
“If it is me or whoever is the minister, I think that this is a priority we will take, thank God a lot of job has been done,” he said.