Buhari Approves Arms for Airport Security.

President Muhammadu Buhari has granted an approval for airport security to bear arms as part of efforts at ensuring security at the country’s airports.
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this yesterday while briefing journalists after the first Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari.
Also at the briefing, were the Minister for Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.
Noting that President Buhari gave his approval last week, the minister said, “We are very serious about aviation security. Just last week, the president approved that aviation security should bear arms.
“So we are trying to make them take the form and shape of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the United States with K-9 dogs, handcuffs, guards, batons, light weapons among others.
“The minister of interior is helping us in that regard with the directive of the president. They are partnering us and other stakeholders to keep our airports secure. All these will be unveiled at the next stakeholders’ meeting.”
Sirika further said the position of the present administration was that the country needs a national carrier.
“When we came in, we were very clear on our targets, goals and what we set out to achieve and we did say that Nigeria needs a national airline.
“The national airline will be one that the government will have no hand in, and normally, it can have three per cent. It will be private sector led and private sector driven.
“Except with the Ethiopian airline, it has been proven that the government doesn’t do well with this kind of venture.
“We are going to have a national carrier; it is on course and because it is a Public Private Participation (PPP) thing, it has to go through all the due process. It is time consuming but I hope very soon, before the end of the year, we will have a very strong viable national airline.”
He said if any airline in Nigeria has the capacity to deploy several aircraft with seamless operation; non-disruptive; provide the service effectively; go the long haul; take advantage and give other international airlines a run for their money, the government would allow it run as a national carrier.
However, the minister noted that Nigeria did not have such a private airline saying “We don’t need to get involved because there is none yet. The Nigerian airways used to do this but in the wisdom of the then government, it liberalized the sector, and because of the absence of Nigeria’s capacity most of these airlines will come and leave as fast as they came in.
“But we are addressing all of these. We are going to establish this national carrier and it will give good service. This is the solution because Nigeria has the market, we are 180 million people; we are in West Africa and in the region has 450 million people and Nigeria is the major player.
“If you add the Central Africa which is in the central belt, we are 600million people which is equivalent to the US market and also equal to the European market.”
Disclosing that FEC had approved the completion of Kaduna terminal building and the variation of the project cost, he said, “The cost is up from N500million plus to N1.1billion plus. This is just for the terminal building and not the runway.”
According to him, the project would be completed in six months and that the contractor had given an assurance that the work would be completed in six months.
He said the project awarded in 2011 and commenced in 2012, explaining that while the rehabilitation work was going on, a contractor noticed some structural damages to the building itself and then increased the scope of what should be done to put it into use.
According to the minister, “The cost of variation is in excess of 15 per cent, it had to go to the then President Goodluck Jonathan for approval anticipation, which was approved and they went to BPP. So we brought it to council to ratify, and of course taking into cognizance the exchange rate and inflation that has increased the cost of completion of the terminal building.”
On the planned rehabilitation of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, he said the rehabilitation work would take six months but that the airport would only be closed for six weeks.
He said: “The runway was designed for 20 years to cater for not more than 100,000 people per annum. Today, it is doing over 5 million persons per annum and has been there for 34 years. So it is going for 14 years in excess of design. It is not a joke; we are a government and a very sensitive one for that matter.
“We would not just cause hardship or disruptions to the economy for the heck of it. It is a very serious matter and for a very good reason”.
He also cited the case of the airport in Port Harcourt which he said had shut down itself.
The minister also said the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport would also have a second runway.

This, he said, would further enhance safety, eliminate delay and introduce efficiency at the airport.


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