Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has stressed that the long-awaited Nigeria Air project remains suspended despite speculations of its revival.
Addressing journalists during a facility tour of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, NAIA, on Tuesday, in Abuja, Keyamo addressed concerns surrounding the project and firmly stated that he will not overlook any potential red flags associated with it.
Adding that concerns of Nigerians, including all concerned government agencies will not be sidelined, he said 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: “Well, the next step will be for the federal government as a body, not just me as minister, to look at all the reports which I’m putting before them to make a final decision? So, no final decision has been taken on all of these but I won’t be here because it will be very irresponsible of me as a minister to come in and agencies of governments are raising red flags here and there, and I will keep quiet.
“I’m not talking about even Nigerians complaining, agencies of government are raising red flags about both projects. And I, as a functionary of Government as a minister, will then wave all of those red flags away. You know, people were already putting mechinaties in motion to commit themselves so it is to save them and save us.
“Don’t commit! hold on. Don’t commit anything so that your commitments will not go into these adventures. Wait, let us look at it all. Like I said before, be responsive to the feelings of Nigerians, to the red flags that have been raised by certain agencies of government, and then we make a final decision.”
Keyamo expressed his dissatisfaction with the deteriorating condition of certain airport facilities and committed to reinstating a culture of maintenance within the airport.
Keyamo said: “Now on a visit to most of our airports, those are the problems we are facing. Even with this new facility, I understand only four of the ten chillers are working. Now, what is the immediate solution? I have told them that my mentality to some of these things is that for example, most of those lifts that are obsolete instead of fixing them and fixing them, you know, every two months they will bring a bill to fix them and by the time you fix three times you are already almost buying a new one. I told them to get rid of them. Let us buy high quality lifts to promote a new brand here.
“The ones I saw here are not good enough. I know about lifts; they’re not good enough. So, I will not be here and for them to go and buy substandard lifts again, the ones that can take high traffic and we see them all over the world lifts are not what you just buy locally. There are good brands all over the world.
“So I’ve told them to get rid of these lifts. I won’t spend the money repairing them every two months. That’s my attitude towards let’s be patient, rush through emergency procedures for procurement and buy good lifts for Nigerians to enjoy the arrival and good brands.
“Now, but beyond that we should also have a maintenance culture. If we cannot maintain these things internally because these things are more like consumables in quotes. You know, I’m using that word advisedly in quotes because they are things you almost use almost everyday and you see everyday and they are the optics that people see. Let us get people who can maintain them and we can hold them responsible.”
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Speaking about the Abuja second runway, the Minister said compensation to the host communities has began, adding that the project would be completed in 12 months.
“You know I had to go and meet the FCT minister and to get that project off the ground in terms of clearing the obstacles on the way. So as of today the report I have is the money we paid to FCT for them to pay to the settlers there, they have started paying them and they started moving.
“This is a project Nigerians have been waiting for forever. It has been a controversial project from our Obasanjo time to now. Well, 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. You remember the other time when there was a problem with the Abuja runway we all had to go to Kaduna, you know, in a very inconvenient manner, to board our plane.
“So, the second runway for a gateway like Abuja for the capital city is extremely important and I pray that all agencies of government, the National Assembly, the presidency, will give us the support to make sure we deliver that project within 12 months”, he said.
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