Senator Hope Ozodinma (PDP, Imo), has explained that the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja was shut to allow for maintenance of the runway.
Uzodinma, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, said this while fielding questions from State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to him, the airport, which will be closed from midnight on Saturday to 6 a.m. on Monday, is to allow construction giant, Julius Berger, fix the pot holes noticed on the runway.
“This was done for obvious safety reasons. We have some potholes that are already seen as serious hazards. And don’t forget that is the only runway that lands our President, all the VIPs, all the investors that come into this country”, he said.
He also said the closure will allow for a technical audit by the Federal Aviation Authority, FAA, in keeping with international regulations.
The senator, however, faulted the public outcry over the closure of the airport, saying it was not peculiar to Nigeria.
“Well, all over the world, they know that we have one runway in Abuja. The next thing anybody can do is to look for the nearest airport close to Abuja either Kaduna or Minna and then chose whether it will make a better business sense to land there or not to fly at all.
“And whatever may be the case between midnight Saturday and Monday, it’s not something anybody can cry about. All over the world, airports and runways are usually closed whenever there are obvious maintenance programmes that bother on safety. So, our own should not be an exception”, he said.
Senator Uzodinma said there will be no national carrier as government could no longer run businesses meant for the private sector.
“For us to have a national Carrier, it is an airline that government must own 100 percent and I doubt whether the government has the managerial and technical capability to begin to float an airline in an economy that is being privatized. Rather, it can copy from the United States, France, Britain where they have national flag carrier.
“In this situation, what happens is that private people will own the airline and government will continue to support and then they will carry our flag. It is important to see an airline that is carrying our flag”, he said.