The Senate has approved the rehabilitation of eight airstrips across Nigeria in the 2022 national budget.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, stated this in an interview with journalists on Friday.
According to Adeyemi, the eight airstrips are, Ajaokuta in Kogi State, Bida and Kotangora in Niger State, Mubi in Adamawa State, Zaria in Kaduna State, Uli – Okija in Anambra State, Irua in Edo State and Zuru in Kebbi State.
According to him, to resuscitate iron and steel in Nigeria, Ajaokuta airstrip need to be operational to ease movement for the inflow and outflow of equipment and raw materials by the foreign investors.
He noted that Ajaokuta airstrip when in operation, will ensure movement of people from Kogi State to Abuja and other parts of the country.
Senator Adeyemi, who represents Kogi West, also said efforts are on to rehabilitate the Egbe Airstrip in Kogi West that has been abandoned for years as requested by the people.
“It was an airstrip constructed by the colonial masters 45 years ago, we are talking to the Ministry of Aviation, the missionaries are ready to rehabilitate that airstrip,” he said.
”Most of airports built by the State governments lack the required facilities and passengers flow to be called airports.
He stated that the eight of the airstrips built about 40 to 50 years ago, have been proposed for rehabilitation in the 2022 fiscal year.
Senator Smart Adeyemi described most of the airports established by state governments are white elephant projects.
“Aside Lagos which has 65 % of passengers traffic, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, most of the other State airports lack the required 500,000 to 1million passenger traffic on yearly basis.
“In fact, many of them cannot even record 100,000 passengers annually not to talk of minimum of 500, 000 by international standard.
“Governors should stop embarking on the white elephant projects called state airport with attendant waste of resources that should be channeled into welfare and livelihood of citizens.
“N20 billion being spent by some state governors on construction of airports would have been better channeled into welfare – driven projects and programmes for people of the state.
‘It takes one to two billion Naira to contract a functional airstrip where small Aircrafts like 50 – seaters can land,” he added.
Adeyemi said in many nations of the world that he has visited, “whether an airport is having a terminal of N10bn or N20bn does not matter. What matters is that it must have a good landing facility which a functional airstrip can provide.”
“We don’t need a Boeing series that would be looking for 100 passengers to take off before it move. If we have a 50-seater aircraft, it could land and pick 30 passengers at no loss. But if you are waiting for a Boeing series before you construct airport, you are not helping the Nigerian nation.
“We should not be looking at aviation from the level of America. We have to graduate and the way to do it is to have airstrip in place.
“They are needed because they service the hinterland. It would enable them to move goods and passengers around the country easily .
“That is the basic thing to help guarantee the social and economic development of our nation.”