Gombe State governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, has said his administration will work with the National Assembly and relevant authorities to ensure the take over and standardization of the Gombe Airport by the federal government such that the state can leverage on what it generates to provide more services to the people.
According to director- general, Press Affairs, of Gombe Government House, Ismaila Uba Misilli, Governor Yahaya stated this when he granted audience to members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation led by Senator Smart Adeyemi and Hon Nnoli Nnaji, chairmen of Senate and House of Representatives committees on Aviation respectively.
The governor described the services rendered by the Gombe airport as national and international aligned with standardisation of the airport through its complete take over by the federal government since the State does not have enough resources to do so.
He said any improvement on the Gombe Airport is not only to the state’s economy and social wellbeing but that of the North East sub-region and the country as a whole.
“We shall go to any length to see that we get reprieve with this Airport and to see that there is an improvement on it for the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The governor described the mission of the National Assembly Joint committee on Aviation to Gombe as a milestone for the people of the State and by extension the entire country, saying of all the previous efforts by successive administrations that changed the fortunes of Gombe and brought the state to limelight, the Airport stands out as one undisputed asset.
He however observed that despite the development the Gombe Airport brought to the State, the facility has placed a huge financial burden on the state because the Government has consistently supported and funded it since its establishment.
“We financed the establishment of the Airport and we are equally financing its operations which are becoming very cumbersome on the state government, especially in view of the current financial squeeze occasioned by covid-19 and the downturn of the economy that affect Gombe State ‘’.
He said the Gombe Airport, which is very strategic in view of the location, has continuously served the people of the State and Nigerians in different capacities, noting that the last of such services was the movement of the covid-19 vaccine to the State.
Governor Yahaya said his earlier interface with the Chairmen of the Aviation committees of the Senate and House of Representatives was aimed at pushing for takeover of the facility by the Federal Government in order to standardize the facility and remove its burden on the state Government.
He noted that being the second to the last on the Federation allocation table, Gombe needs all the support it can get to relieve itself from its financial burden and leverage on the resources therein to provide services to the people.
“We are very proud of what we are doing; this is a government of change; it is a government of reform and whatever we are doing is touching on the lives of the people. So if the Federal Government takes this Airport we shall leverage on whatever we get to do more for the people and the Airport in particular and the aviation sector in general will do better”.
The Governor told his guests that only recently the Nigerian Airforce embarked on setting up of a forward operational base in Gombe known as combat reconnaissance group, owing to the centrality of the state in the North East and the advantages the state has in military operations, especially in a region plagued by insurgency.
Governor Yahaya stated that the state government needs support to ensure that the airport is made standard and to upgrade the facilities to make it cargo or international airport for the Northeast, saying he is ready to support all efforts that would translate into turning the facility into a standard airport for the benefit of the good people of Nigeria.
Earlier, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, said the NASS Aviation committee members were in the state for a `flying visit’ to assess the condition of the airport facility.
“We are here to have a true picture of the needs and challenges of each of the airports in Nigeria. And come out with a position on what the Federal Government should do to improve them.’’
According to Adeyemi, since Gombe State airport is strategically located in the northeast sub-region, there is a need for serious attention from the federal government.
He said that aviation is key to socio-economic development of any nation, as it “is the life of the nation today as no nation can talk about economic prosperity without the aviation industry.’’
On their assessment of the airport, Sen. Adeyemi said, “The facilities here seem to be obsolete, some of them are outdated. There is a need for proper funding for this airport. He added that one of the major requirements for an airport is adequate water supply which according to him is lacking and “quite disturbing.’’
Also speaking, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Aviation, said discussion had begun and would be strengthened for the federal government to take-over the Gombe airport.
“We believe that will enhance the facility as there will also be a need for cargo terminal and the other facilities around the airport. Airport is all about safety and security. It is important, there is air-foot lightening to boost operations especially at night. There is need for upgrade of the facility and the governor requested that it should be taken-over by the federal government. We believe that the federal government should take it over because of its commercial activity and strategic location in the northeast sub-region.”