The Senate has expressed strong reservations about state government investment in the Aviation sector.
Senator representing Kogi West and Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, described airports constructed by states as white elephant projects.
He made the submission on Friday while presenting his Committee reports on the 2022 budgetary projections for the Aviation sector before the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
Senator Adeyemi maintained that most of the airports owned by states are waste of public funds as they lack adequate technical capacity and passengers flow.
He said: “Most of the airports built by the Senate lacks the required facilities and passengers flow to be called airports.
“Aside from Lagos which has 65 per cent of passengers traffic, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, most of the other state airports lack the required 500,000 to 1million passenger traffic on yearly basis.
“In fact, many of them cannot even record 100,000 passengers annually not to talk of minimum of 500, 000 by international standard.
“Governors should stop embarking on the white Elephant Projects called State Airport with the attendant waste of resources that should be channelled into welfare and livelihood of citizens.
“N20 billion being spent by some state governors on the construction of Airports would have been better channelled into welfare-driven projects and programmes for people of the state.
“It takes one to two billion naira to contract a functional Airstrip where small aircraft like 50 – seaters can land.”
The Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation further argued that a good airport must have a good landing facility which a functional Airstrip can provide.
“We don’t need a Boeing series that would be looking for 100 passengers to take off before it moves. If we have a 50-seater aircraft, it could land and pick 30 passengers at no loss. But if you are waiting for a Boeing series before you construct airport, you are not helping the Nigerian nation.
“We should not be looking at aviation from the level of America. We have to graduate and the way to do it is to have an airstrip in place.”
Senator Adeyemi informed the Senate Committee on Appropriation that his Committee has proposed in the 2022 fiscal year that eight of the Airstrips built about 40 to 50 years ago be rehabilitated.
The eight Airstrips according to him are, Bida and Kotangora in Niger State, Mubi in Adamawa State, Zaria in Kaduna State, Uli – Okija in Anambra State, Ajaokuta in Kogi State, Irua in Edo State and Zuru in Kebbi State.
“We have therefore proposed Okija airstrip, Zuru, Zaria, Ajaokuta, Mubi, Kotangora, Bida and Urua airstrips for rehabilitation.
“The Uli-Okija airstrip, in particular, is good because it will open up the Nnewi Anambra axis and the entire South-East more when we have an aircraft that could take about 50 passengers to take off and land, to the hinterland.
“They are needed because they service the hinterland. It would enable them to move goods and passengers around the country easily.
“That is the basic thing to help guarantee the social and economic development of our nation.”
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Senate decries investment in airports by states