The Senate has suspended the questioning of Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika due to his inability to provide details on the financial implications of shutting down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for repair work.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over the session, told the minister to get the necessary documents and return Tuesday next week to enable both parties take a final position on the issue.
Saraki, while expressing concerns, revealed that he has been bombarded with calls from Nigerians and ambassadors on the security implication of diverting local and international flights to Kaduna Airport.
Saraki said: “All around the world, international airports are not closed. From Europe to our neighbours in Ghana, they do not close airports. We also want to know how you will handle the security concerns expressed about Kaduna Airport. Nigerians and our partners across the world have expressed worry. Ambassadors have reached out to us to express their concerns.”
Responding, Sirika said: “This work is not for six weeks, but six months. But the closure is for six weeks. This is to enable us work on the runway. We have gotten to a critical stage where we can work on the airport and allow planes to fly. We want to take advantage of the dry season to quickly work on it. If we do not take advantage of this opportunity, we will have to wait till the next dry season.
“Nigeria has closed its runway before. Port Harcourt International Airport runway was closed for over two years. That airport is not less important than Abuja Airport.
Sirika would also appear before the House of Representatives, which has summoned him through a motion by a member of the House, Abbas Tajudeen (Zaria: Kaduna: APC).
At the plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the lawmakers insist on the appearance of Sirika with his technical team to shed light on the desirability of the airport closure.
The minister also explained that government plans to concession the nation’s airport in order to maintain high standard and efficiency in the running of their operations.
Sirika, while receiving a delegation from the International Enterprise Singapore led by its Director, Middle East and Africa Group, Ian Lee, disclosed that the procurement processes for the concession of the national carrier had reached advanced stages and transaction advisers would soon be appointed.