“If you ask me, I will close Enugu airport tomorrow …actually today because the runway has failed,” a former Minister of State for Aviation, Hardi Sirika said in Abuja on Friday.
Sirika, who is one of 43 ministerial nominees being screened by the Senate, spoke when he appeared before the lawmakers for screening confirmation.
Describing the runway of the airport as an eyesore, he said it is not befitting of a modern airport.
“I visited Enugu airport as minister thrice including the state government and unofficially twice. It has a lot of problems,” he said.
Speaking he said, “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 to be on the land belonging to Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“Whoever is the next minister will contend with that because this is safety. Enugu Airport will be dear to the next minister. That is my personal opinion. We are very jealous of that city and the airport.”
Responding to a question on the plans he has to revive the national carrier project if reappointed Minister of State for Aviation, he said, “Should President Muhammadu Buhari still think that I go to transportation, I will continue with that good job. It is good for the future and fortune of Nigerians. One aeroplane is equal to 300 direct jobs. This is a priority that should be taken.
“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 barber shop, 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.
“We are the centre, eco-distant to all locations in Africa, we are at the centre of the world we are highly mobile travelling people and this is why the prices of tickets are so expensive because we dont have alternative. We cannot match them, whatever they give we have to take. It is market, it is capitalism, we can not run away from it, I think it is important.
“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.”