By Ummi Ismaeel
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Monday, March 13, 2017, paid an unofficial inspection of the Minna International Airport on his way to Abuja.
The visit was to know why many airlines have refused to fly the Kaduna Airport, as the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is undergoing six weeks rehabilitation.
Except the Ethiopian Airline, many foreign airlines have continued to shun the Kaduna Airport siting a number of reasons including; insecurity, nearness to Abuja and not being spacious.
But experts argued that the Federal Government should have considered Minna Airport as an alternative to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport because of its size, security and proxinmity to Abuja, the Federal Capital.
Though no official reason was given for the Senate president’s visit, a source said that it may not be unconnected with the pressure by Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, for the use of the facility due to its relative advantage over that of Kaduna.
Senator Saraki flew into Minna from Lagos in an official aircraft with registration number, 5N FGS at about 1:05pm and was received at the airport by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mikail Al-Amin Bmitosahi who also briefed him on efforts being made by the Bello administration to ensure that Minna Airport is put into maximum use.
The Senate President was taken round the airport to see some on-going renovation work by the state government including the lounge, arrival and departure hall of the airport and was also briefed of efforts to fast-track the rehabilitation of the federal government’s Minna-Suleja road rehabilitation, which has been delayed due to lack of funds.
Before leaving Minna to Abuja, the Senate President who expressed appreciation in what the state government was doing to ensure that Minna Airport is put into maximum use, promised that the Senate would look into the request made by Niger State government on the issue.
Saraki, who spent barely 15 minutes, departed Niger State for Abuja at about 1:18pm in a convoy through the 98 kilometre Minna-Suleja dual carriage road, apparently to have an on-the-spot assessment of progress of work done by the state government on the Trunk A Road.
Recall that, besides stakeholders’ kicking against the use of Kaduna airport as an alternative during the six weeks closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Governor Bello led some political leaders to the National Assembly to lobby for the use of Minna Airport as alternative to the Abuja airport.