Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has disclosed that the construction of the second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) in Abuja is expected to be completed within the next 12 months. He also confirmed that the affected communities have started to be compensated by the government. As of September 5, 2023, the minister said that the report he has is that the money paid to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for them to pay to the settlers there is being paid and the settlers have started moving.
According to Keyamo, Nigerians have been waiting for the project. He said that it has been a controversial project from the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo. In his words, “Thankfully, this government is set to commence that project and it’s one of the projects that is a low-hanging fruit for us and we think it’s extremely important.” He recalled that the day when there was a problem with the Abuja runway, he and his envoy all had to board their plane to Kaduna in a very inconvenient manner.
Keyamo seeks support from relevant agencies, says Abuja runway important.
Thus, he said that the second runway for a gateway like Abuja for the capital city was extremely important and he wished that all agencies of government, the National Assembly, and the presidency will support the ministry to make sure that it delivers the project within 12 months. Meanwhile, speaking during a tour at the airport in Abuja on Tuesday, the minister also stressed that the controversial national carrier, Nigeria Air project, remains suspended. He added that he will not overlook any potential red flags associated with it.
He further stated that the concerns of Nigerians, including from all concerned government agencies, will not be sidelined, stressing that the Nigeria Air project will not commence until all documents signed before, during, and after the alleged launch of the project are thoroughly scrutinized. He said that the next step will be for the Federal Government to examine the reports in order to make a final decision. So, he said that no final decision has been taken.
All stakeholders should hold on, says the minister.
Still on the issue, he said that government agencies are raising red flags with the carrier and it would be irresponsible of him to wave all of them away. He recognized that people were already putting machinery in motion to commit themselves to the project. “Don’t commit anything so that your commitments will not go into these adventures,” he said, asking them to let the relevant government agencies look at it. Only after then will the ministry make a final decision.
Also, Keyamo expressed his dissatisfaction with the deteriorating condition of certain airport facilities and committed to reinstating a culture of maintenance within the airport. He said that now that the ministry is on a visit to most of the airports in the country, those are the problems facing the facilities. “Even with this new facility, I understand only four of the ten chillers are working,” he noted. He revealed that instead of the immediate solution of sending the ministry a bill every two months to fix facilities, such as lifts, he would prefer that new high-quality ones are bought to promote a new brand.
Maintenance culture should be maintained in the industry.
While revealing his mentality for short-term fixes, he said that maintenance culture is very important. To him, these facilities and the equipment should be maintained because they are like consumables. “Let us get people who can maintain them and we can hold them responsible,” he said. Although President Tinubu appointed Keyamo as minister of the aviation ministry on August 16, 2023, it seems that he has hit the ground running with proposed projects and the introduction of maintenance culture.