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OPINION

Time To Upgrade Aminu Kano International Airport

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It is not doubting the fact that Aminu Kano International Airport is the oldest in Nigeria. Nigerians from different parts of the country use the airport to travel to different parts of the world.

In fact, in the last two decades, almost all northern states have been using the airport for the annual pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia or via the private travel agencies for lesser pilgrimage.

The relationship between Kano and North African countries and Arab countries saw many flights traveling to the Middle East departing from the airport due to its strategic position for customers.

The administration of Olusegun Obasanjo deliberately abandoned the Aminu Kano International Airport, which is the major cause of its current deteriorating state. Late Yar’Adu’a administration had plans to do something about the airport, he could not live to witness the execution of the project.

Jonathan’s administration, just like Obasanjo’s delibrately abandoned the airport despite the administration’s plan to renovate some selected international airports across  the country.

Stella Odua, the then minister of aviation single handedly removed Aminu Kano International Airport from the list of international airports to be renovated. That obviously drew the ire of the state government under Rabi’u Kwankwaso’s administration.

As a result, a number of international airlines announced their decision to suspend landing in Kano, though after a serious cry out by the state government, it forced the Odua-led ministry to reconsider its decision.   

The airport has lately witnessed an upsurge of traveling people using it, due to the problem of kidnapping along Abuja-Kaduna expressway. Despite that, top government officers who now use the airport more do not even care about the state of the airport, though we always compare us with other countries.

On reaching the airport at the arrival, one could see how unkept the airport is. Many super market halls are more clean then the arrival hall,  as odour struggle with immigration officers in welcoming arriving passengers.

Recently, a friend traveled to Kano from Abuja  with some foreign delegates and they needed to use the restroom. Let me quote what the foreign official said:  “What the hell is this?  Is this an international airport?”

Due to the state of insecurity along Abuja – Kaduna expressway, I use flight more often than road to Kano, where I noticed the airport’s   dare need of renovation.

It was a funny one to many when Representative Gudaji  Kazaure while contributing to a debate regarding the state of Nigerian airports on the floor of the House of Representatives demonstrated the experience of landing in Kano airport.

With the current Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who happens to be a pilot and comes from Kano State’s neighbour, Katsina state, which coincidently used to utilize the Aminu Kano International Airport, it is very surprising that he didn’t utter a word concerning the airport when President Muhammadu Buhari landed in that same airport on several occasions. Both the president and the minister appear to be paying more attention on the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos with no single attention to any northern airport.

The deteriorating state of the Aminu Kano International Airport will definitely affect the state’s development since roads are no longer safe.

Domestic and international investors will also become scared of investing with reference to nonchallant attitude of the government towards infrastructures.

Many will now ask the Minister of State Aviation what is the sin of Kano people that in all his works in the Aviation ministry, Kano has been lagging behind or, as some would say, totally excluded?

Why did he exclude Aminu Kano international airport from the airports listed for the proposed, but now defunct Nigerian Air?

Why is it difficult for him to do something about Kano airport to meet international standard so that international airlines can return and new ones start landing and taking off from Kano?

It is the right time for notable Kano people to draw the attention of President Buhari on the current state of the oldest airport in Nigeria and the most busy one in northern Nigeria. And show him how important it is to have an international standard airport in the commercial hub centre of northern Nigeria.

– Bala sent in this piece from Abuja


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