Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose has stated that, it is too risky and dangerous to divert local and international flights from Abuja to Kaduna as proposed by the Federal Government.
According to communiqué signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, Fayose criticizes the Federal Government for what he said was its knee-jerk approach to problems.
He said: “They act before they think and they take decisions before consulting critical stakeholders. That way, they always end up putting the cart before the horse. That is how they have messed up the economy and now have brought unprecedented grief, misery, poverty and suffering on Nigerians.”
The Federal Government has said it would close down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for six weeks to repair the runway.
During the period, flights from the airport will be diverted to Kaduna International Airport from where the Federal Government said passengers would now be transported to Abuja by road.
The Airlines Operators of Nigeria has rejected the government’s plan, insisting there are better ways of repairing the Abuja runway without closing the airport.
International airline operators and their domestic counterparts are also opposed to the close down option.
Fayose described the security situation of Kaduna State and its environ as worrisome, saying this alone disqualifies the airport in the state.
He also complained about the dilapidated state of the Kaduna-Abuja Road, which he described as a “death-trap”.
He added: “This same Kaduna is where Shiites waylaid a whole Chief of Army Staff; the crisis created is yet to abate as the Shiites continue to defy the authorities to mount public protests. This is the same Kaduna where over a thousand citizens have been slaughtered like rams and the FG has not brought a single of the murderers to book. The situation in southern Kaduna and in other parts remains as tense as ever.
“This is the same Kaduna-Abuja death-trap of a road where a sitting Minister of the Federal Republic, his wife and son lost their lives in a road mishap. This is the same Kaduna-Abuja road where a Minister and her husband were kidnapped in broad daylight.
“It is also on this same road that an Army officer was butchered; where herdsmen parade their herds in broad daylight causing avoidable accidents and other inconveniences to travellers. This is the same road where Boko Haram and other criminally-minded hoodlums operate at will.”
Fayose chided the government for taking a decision before assembling the critical stakeholders, whose advice now runs against the grains of government’s thinking.
He asked: “Why are they always leaping before they look?”
He said the decision to close down the Abuja airport will further worsen the country’s economic recession.
He said: “We will lose business to neighbouring countries; a government that is parroting diversification of the economy will lose non-oil revenue. An aviation sector that is in crisis before will have its situation worsened. Expect more jobs to be lost in that sector, further worsening the alarming unemployment problem in the country.”
Aligning with the position of the AON, who are resisting the Federal Government’s relocation order, Fayose said all the necessary logistics such as rehabilitation of the Kaduna-Abuja Road, provision of adequate security and adequate consultation ought to have been undertaken before the decision to go ahead with the plan.
He advised the government to immediately constitute a high-powered team composed of Nigerians with the requisite expertise to handle this very critical national assignment, stressing that our image as a country is at stake because foreign nationals are involved.
Fayose added: “In Nigeria under the APC/Buhari administration, we seem to value cows more than human lives but this is not the case with foreign governments which place premium on the lives of their citizens. They are not likely to allow our government gamble with the lives of their citizens.”
Assuring Nigerians and the international community that he would continue to speak out whenever the occasion demands, the governor advised the APC/Buhari administration to be courageous enough to admit its mistakes and retrace its steps because so much is at stake.
Fayose said: “But by their nature, they are usually nonchalant. They believe everything starts and ends with political power, which is very sad. They must change this attitude because it is responsible for the untold suffering that our people are going through today,”