Planned shutdown of Abuja Airport is disastrous-HURIWA
A pro-democracy and Non-Governmental Organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned the planned six weeks shut down of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and the diversion of all flights to Kaduna Airport as disclosed by the minister of State for transportation in charge of Aviation.
The group said it has found out that the decision to so close down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport would be counter-productive and may undermine national security since the underlying reason is to seek to attract international attention to the near-moribund Kaduna Airport just as other regional undertones could be deduced from the planned shutdown including reason not unconnected with the 2019 elections.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said the decision to shut the Abuja airport completely for six weeks was irrational and lacking in logic and business sense given that the same repair works on the tarmac can still be done over the night which would only occasion minimal disruptions to already scheduled travel plans of international and local passengers.
“Why is Kaduna the choice for all flights coming to Abuja to be diverted? What has happened to the Minna International Airport which is nearer to Abuja and relatively much more peaceful and safe? Why compel passengers and airlines to land in Kaduna when it is clear that the road from Kaduna to Abuja has not only become a death trap but is the operational base of armed Fulani terrorists and kidnappers,” HURIWA asked.
Besides, the Rights group has called for greater vigilance on the part of the Nigerian security community and all men/women of goodwill to stop the clandestine transportation of heavy military hardware and weapons through the Kaduna airports by troublemakers who may be eyeing the 2019 general elections.
“We recognize that safety and quality of the runway are imperative but a situation whereby mundane reason of regional politics and commercial gains are the driving forces for this planned shutdown of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by the Minister of State a known associate of the Arewa Consultative Assembly with head office in Kaduna, calls for closer scrutiny and review. Eternal vigilance is the prize of liberty as great scholars have stated and since we are at a time when ethno-religious genocide is overlooked by the government, this closure and diversion which would affect the Abuja International airport is a threat to national security.”
HURIWArecalled that Alh. Sabiu Zakari, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation had on behalf of his boss stated this; “The Federal Government has taken a decision to temporarily shut down operations at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. The Six-Week closure of the airport which will be effective from the 8th of March, 2017, is to enable government carry out comprehensive renovation works on the Airport Runway in order to meet the International Civil Aviation standards” the notice read.
“During the period of this closure, the Kaduna International Airport will be used as an alternate, for which the Federal Ministry of Transportation is collaborating with all relevant MDAs, Organizations, Agencies and Critical Stakeholders to ensure the provision of all necessary logistics for a seamless and hitch-free operation” it said.